No-Fault Divorce, Can It Be Contested?

As a result of the relatively new No-Fault Divorce Law in NY, the courts, clients and attorneys are still attempting to determine the true meaning of the new law. When one party states under oath that the marriage has "broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months", can the other spouse still contest the divorce? The answer may very well be "it depends" on which judge is deciding your case.

Recently in Sorrentino v. Sorrentino, Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge James F. Quinn stated that a hearing was required to determine if the wife was entitled to her no-fault divorce because her husband alleged defenses that his wife was of advanced age, frail, not in her right mind and that she was the subject of the undue influence of her children.

The couple had been married for 56 years and had four adult children. The wife testified that there were no marital relations for more than five years, that they live in separate bedrooms, never have meals together, do not spend holidays together, do not socialize and her husband does not take her to her many doctors' appointments. Her testimony was supported by the further testimony of two of their children.

Nevertheless, the court decided that the husband was still entitled to try to establish his defense that his wife was improperly influenced and not making a sound decision.

The Court granted the divorce at the conclusion of the trial. So while the wife won, she was still put through the emotional trauma and financial expense of a trial.

There are other cases in NY from other trial judges that have held differently. However, until the higher appeal courts review these decisions or the law is clarified, whether or not a trial will be required for a No-Fault Divorce is still not clear.

If you have questions whether or not you are entilted to a Divorce please contact my office to arrange for a consutation to help you understand this developing law.