Seven Grounds for Divorce in New York Explained

Seven Grounds for Divorce in New York Explained

New York requires that a person list grounds when filing for divorce in the state. There are seven listed grounds for filing for divorce, and depending on your case, you may be able to list one or more grounds when submitting your petition for divorce. Below is an explanation of each of the grounds for divorce in New York. For more information about utilizing the proper grounds for divorce in your case, call or contact an experienced New York divorce attorney today.

Cruel and Inhuman Treatment

In order to claim cruel and inhuman treatment, the petitioner must show that acts occurred within the last five years. Having arguments with your spouse or not getting along does not rise to the level of cruel and inhuman treatment. Examples of cruel and inhuman treatment include physical and mental abuse or other instances that show the court that it is unsafe or improper for the petitioner to continue to be married to his or her spouse.


In order to claim abandonment, the spouse of the petitioner must have abandoned the marriage for at least one year or longer prior to the divorce petition. Abandonment refers to one spouse leaving the residence of the couple with no intention of returning. This ground also includes “constructive abandonment,” when one spouse refuses to engage in sexual contact with the other spouse for over one year.


Claiming imprisonment as a ground for divorce in New York can be done if the petitioner’s spouse has been imprisoned for three years or more after the marriage begins. The petitioner can use imprisonment as a ground for divorce while the spouse is in prison or up to five years after the spouse is released from prison.


In order to claim adultery as grounds for divorce, the petitioner must include evidence that the spouse committed adultery during the course of the marriage. Evidence of adultery can be submitted as photos, videos, witness statements, or other types of evidence that prove that the adultery occurred. A mere insinuation that a spouse cheated is not enough to claim adultery as a ground for divorce.

Judgment Separation

This ground is used rarely and only applies if the state Supreme Court draws up a judgement of separation for the couple and the spouses live apart for one year.

Separation Agreement

In order to use a separation agreement as grounds for divorce in New York, both spouses sign and file a valid separation agreement as well as live apart for one year. The agreement must contain specific provisions and should be reviewed by an attorney prior to submission.

Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage

This ground was added in New York in 2010 and is also referred to as the “no fault” ground for divorce. In order to claim an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, the marriage must be over for at least six months and all marital issues including property distribution, alimony, child custody, and child support must be settled prior to filing.

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