Nassau County Family Law Blog

Friday, March 13, 2015

Court Finds Spouse Does Not Meet Requirements in New York's No-Fault Divorce Law

What is the residency requirement for a New York divorce?

To obtain a divorce in New York, the parties must meet residency requirements. Their purpose is to ensure that a plaintiff does not simply look for the state with the most favorable laws, relocate, and commence divorce proceedings there. In New York, either the plaintiff or defendant must have lived in the state continuously for two years.

There are exceptions, however, if certain conditions are met. According to New York's No-Fault Divorce Law, if "the cause occurred in the state," the parties need only be in New York for one year.

In Stancil v. Stancil, the plaintiff had lived in New York for only 14 months before seeking a New York divorce from her husband, a resident of Virginia. He objected, citing her lack of two years residency in New York. In response, the plaintiff claimed that the ground for her divorce was the breakdown of the marriage, which was a "cause" that occurred "in the state." If her theory were accepted, she would only need to have been in the state for one year, a requirement she could satisfy.

The court had to determine whether, in passing the no-fault divorce legislation, the New York State legislature meant for the grounds of a no-fault divorce to serve as a "cause" triggering a shorter residency requirement. Unfortunately for the plaintiff, the court found that this was not the legislative intent. The court also noted that the plaintiff's ties to New York were weak, as she had moved to the state to enter a graduate school program of short-term duration. Her husband, meanwhile, had no connection to New York at all.

Howard B. Leff has more than 35 years of family law experience, including cases involving divorce. Call him today at (516)739-7500 for a free initial consultation.

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