Divorce and “No Fault”

Since last year, New York, like Florida, has become a “no fault” divorce state.  Generally, this means that spouses don’t have to allege wrongdoing to have their marriage dissolved.  A petitioner simply has to allege that the marriage is broken beyond repair, and maybe give a few facts (such as a statement that the parties no longer are in love). But, according to attorney Doug Kepanis, at least one New York judge requires more:

In the case of Strack v. Strack, a wife sought to divorce her husband based on the New York “no fault” divorce statute. She alleged, in accordance with the statute, that “the relationship between husband and wife has broken down such that it is irretrievable and has been for a period of at least six months.” This is basically a paraphrase of the actual law.

However, Judge Robert J. Muller of Essex County pondered the following question: “Whether the [wife’s] unilateral statement under oath is irrefutable…or [is] defendant to be afforded the same…due process as is available for any other cause of action in our jurisprudence.” His ultimate answer…drum roll please…was that the “no fault” statute was “…not a panacea for those hoping to avoid a trial. Rather, it is simply a new cause of action subject to the same rules of practice governing the subdivisions which have preceded it.”

It is settled law in Florida that a party may be granted a divorce simply on the basis that the marriage is irretrievably broken.  If one party denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the judge does have the option of ordering the couples to counseling and pause the case for three months, giving the parties an opportunity to reconcile.  However, most judges will not order counseling if one of the parties is firmly opposed to the idea because “[i]f one marital partner has made the considered decision that the relationship should be terminated, perhaps it may be properly said that the marital relationship has broken down.”  Riley v. Riley, 271 So. 2d 181 (Fla. 1st DCA 1972).

If you are facing a divorce and you wish to speak with a Florida divorce attorney, you may schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., by calling us at (813) 443-0615 or filling out our contact form.

About Adam B. Cordover, Attorney-at-Law

Family Diplomacy is dedicated to helping clients restructure their families privately and respectfully. We practice exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution, with a focus on collaborative divorce and family law, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services. We maintain this out-of-court practice because we strongly believe that family disputes should be resolved in a private conference room, not in a hostile and public courtroom environment. This unique perspective on family law stems back to Adam B. Cordover’s experience studying International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Adam had the rare opportunity to work closely with ambassadors and diplomats from war-torn regions around the world. He traveled around the globe, learning from diplomatic leaders as they applied dispute resolution techniques to tackle seemingly impossible conflicts. It dawned on him: If these techniques can work in the complex world of International Relations, why not Domestic Relations and Family Law? This realization lead Adam to create an exclusively out-of-court practice and to bring a more peacemaking approach to family law. In his previous role as a litigation attorney, Adam witnessed parties experience the negative emotional and financial effects that long, drawn out divorce battles can have on families. As a result, Adam has become a strong proponent of the Collaborative Process, where a structure is put in place so that life’s hardest moments do not have to be any more difficult than necessary. A thought leader in the international collaborative law community, Adam successfully spearheaded an effort of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to draft an administrative order safeguarding the principles of collaborative family law (just the fourth such administrative order in Florida). Adam has been featured in or interviewed about collaborative practice by the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Florida Bar News, NBC, Fox 13, Bay News 9, ABC Action News, The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine, and Spirit FM 90.5. Adam regularly speaks at professional and civic organizations locally and internationally regarding the collaborative process. Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) and Florida’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice group with member attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties. Adam is also on the Executive Board and co-chair of the Research Committee of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida. Further, Adam is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. You can learn more about us and our services at www.FamilyDiplomacy.com. Attorney Adam B. Cordover is admitted to the Florida Bar and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. His office is located at 412 East Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
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