What are the Grounds for Divorce in New York?

New York state law doesn't require spouses to place blame on one another in a divorce case. It does, however, require that you list a reason for the divorce. The most common reason is irreconcilable differences, but the state of New York actually allows seven possible legal reasons – or grounds – for divorce.

Read: Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce: Understanding Both Options

7 grounds for divorce in New York

New York divorce law provides seven possible legal for divorce that you can list on your divorce petition. The first grounds listed below is a no-fault grounds. The others are fault grounds for divorce.

Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage

This refers to a situation in which a couple has been living separately for a period of six months or more. Both spouses acknowledge that the marriage is beyond repair. An example of this could be when one spouse moves out and both parties agree that the marriage has ended.


This occurs when one spouse inflicts inhuman treatment such as physical, mental, or emotional harm on the other spouse. An example of extreme cruelty is when one spouse physically abuses or threatens to harm the other, causing psychological or physical distress.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233. You can also text the word START to 88788.


Sometimes referred to as desertion, this occurs when one spouse deserts their partner for one year or more without their consent or justification. An example would be if one partner were to leave the other without any notice or communication for at least a year.


This occurs when one spouse has been convicted and incarcerated in prison for a certain period of time, usually at least three years, during the marriage. Further, they were still serving time at the time of the divorce filing


If one spouse has an extramarital affair and there is evidence, such as photos, emails, texts, or even private investigator evidence to prove it occurred during the marriage, adultery may be used as grounds for divorce. 

After a legal separation

Legal separation is possible in New York when two people want to live apart yet remain legally married. They may do this for religious reasons, practical reasons, or due to personal preference. When a married couple legally separates, neither can remarry until they are properly divorced. 

To be eligible for grounds for divorce, a couple must have signed a legal separation agreement and lived apart for at least one year.

After a judgment of separation

This is the least common option. After a Judgment of Separation, when all attempts at reconciliation have failed between two partners who are legally married but unable to stay together anymore, they may request court permission to become officially divorced. To be eligible for this process, the court will draft a separation agreement, and the couple must live apart for one year. Upon completion of that year, the court will grant a formal divorce.

Read: Does It Matter Who’s “At Fault” in Divorce?

Hello Divorce can help with your New York divorce

Hello Divorce is a comprehensive online divorce platform that supports and guides individuals looking to end their marriage in New York. We offer an array of services that can support you through your divorce process, giving you access to the right forms and helping you select a mediator or other professionals to help facilitate an amicable divorce. 


Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.