Sunday, March 06, 2005

New York - Opinion Articles on No Fault Divorce

New York has been considering a bill to turn it into a no fault divorce state. Below are excerpts from opinion articles both for and against. Link to see the entire article.

Time for no fault divorce? NO : Proponents also argue that New York needs no-fault because we are almost the only state without unilateral no-fault. That means that one party, with no grounds - legal reasons - for divorce, can walk out, abandon the family and then claim that abandonment as a ground - legal reason - for divorce.

By not encouraging Separation Agreements, more cases will be sent into court. The failure to negotiate drives the issues of child custody, child and spousal support and property division into court, where women continue to face gender bias, a fact admitted by the court administration itself.

Do we need divorce reform? Yes! We have a whole list of reforms needed in New York. Among them are:
1. A bill that requires judges to award attorney fees and expert fees during the divorce action to the spouse without access to the marital money to "level the playing field."
2. Better medical coverage from the spouse who has the coverage to the noncovered spouse after divorce, such as in Massachusetts.
3. Custody awards that provide stability to children after divorce by having the children live with the parent who did most of the care-giving during the marriage.
We would like to see these and some other reforms to current law before we consider no-fault divorce.

Christ, I copied almost the entire article. Just so we all know - while my position on fault/no fault divorce has not quite yet been cemented- I find this article atrocious. I might eventually decide I fall on the side of preferring fault divorce - but never for any of these reasons. In fact, having read this all of the sudden find no fault much more appealing that I have previously.

We all need to know that the NO editorial was authored by: Kozak and Jacobs, are co-chairs of National Organization for Women's Domestic Relations Law TaskForce in New York. So that explains the "reforms."

My take on these "reforms" is that one parent wants to be able to access the money of the other parent for purposes of litigation - but that same parent does not want to "share" parenting responsibilities - that they were likely able to be the primary caregiver of as the other party was out making an income with which to support that arrangement. So what NOW is saying - share the money, not the kids. What a wonderful message for liberated women to be espousing.

Anyway, I digress, on to the Yes editorial:

Time for no-fault divorce? YES : Individuals here must prove cruelty, which is the infliction of emotional or physical pain, adultery or spousal desertion (or, no sex) for at least one year.

Because of New York's divorce law, some couples agree for one to be at "fault." But there is no purpose served by using fault-based divorce rules in ways that lead to disrespect for the law.

Some have argued that we shouldn't make it easier to get divorced because this will lead to unnecessary breakups of more couples. But experience with no-fault systems in other states shows this is unfounded and divorce rates 10 years later were no higher than before the change.

Litigants should not feel compelled to lie about "fault" to end their marriages. It is time for New York to join the 48 states that have already adopted no-fault divorce.

Standard is president of the New York State Bar Association

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