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What Are Grounds For A New York Divorce?

What are grounds for a New York divorce?

Infidelity, incarceration, abandonment. Those are three of the seven grounds for divorce in New York.

Let’s take a look at all the grounds for divorce that can be used, as well as the one that is most common in our state.

The seven grounds for divorce accepted in New York are as follows:


Adultery is grounds for divorce in New York if your spouse cheats on you. However, this can’t be used as grounds in certain situations: If you also cheated, or if you forgave your spouse after their cheating, or if you encouraged your wife or husband to commit adultery.

Cruel and inhuman treatment

This can be invoked in court filings if remaining married means that your physical health or mental well-being is threatened.

Irretrievable breakdown

This grounds for divorce applies if your relationship with your spouse has irretrievably broken down for at least six months.


Your spouse leaves you (abandons you) for at least a year and does not intend to return.


This applies if your husband or wife is incarcerated for three or more years. However, if your spouse was released from jail more than five years ago, you cannot cite this as a reason for divorce.

Judgment of separation sums this one up nicely: “You and your spouse have not lived together because of a ‘Decree of Separation’ or ‘Judgment of Separation,’ given by the Court, for at least one year.”

Separation agreement

You and your wife or husband have signed before a notary public a written “Agreement of Separation” and have lived under the conditions of the agreement – including not living together – for at least one year.

The most commonly cited ground for divorce is irretrievable breakdown. It’s similar to laws in no-fault divorce states.

A discussion with an experienced New York family law attorney can help you understand which grounds suit your situation best. The attorney can also help you navigate the legal system as well as resolve disputes over child custody, property division, and more.

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