Am Jur 2d - Divorce and Separation § 2

I. Divorce and Separation Proceedings, Generally, A. Nature and Validity, 1. In General, § 2 - No-fault divorce

Most states now have statutes which allow for no-fault divorce, or divorce by consent, in which the parties are not required to prove fault or grounds for divorce other than a showing of irreconcilable differences or an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.[1] Divorces provided for under this type of statute are also known as "conversion" divorces, since they permit the conversion of a judicial separation decree or separation agreement into an absolute divorce decree.[2]

A primary purpose of such a statute is to remove from domestic relations litigation the issue of marital fault as a determining factor,[3] to abolish the necessity of presenting sordid and ugly details of conduct by either party to obtain a dissolution of marriage,[4] and to replace the concept of "fault" by substituting marriage failure or "irretrievable breakdown" as a basis for a decree dissolving a marriage.[5] It has also been observed that the purposes of a no-fault divorce statute are:

  • to strengthen and preserve the integrity of marriage and safeguard family relationships;

  • to promote the amicable settlement of disputes that have arisen between parties to a marriage;

  • to mitigate the potential harm to the spouses and their children caused by the process of legal dissolution of marriage;

  • to make reasonable provision for the spouse and minor children during and after litigation; and

  • to make the law of legal dissolution of marriage effective for dealing with the realities of matrimonial experience by making irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship the sole basis for its dissolution.[6]

Cases:

Husband's affidavit, in which he stated that he and wife had been separated for sixteen years and had not communicated with each other within past five years, was sufficient to establish that parties' relationship has been irretrievably broken for more than required six months, as required under no-fault statute. McKinney's DRL § 170(7) . Tuper v. Tuper, 98 A.D.3d 55, 946 N.Y.S.2d 719 (4th Dep't 2012) .

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1   In re Marriage of Bates, 141 Ill. App. 3d 566, 95 Ill. Dec. 922, 490 N.E.2d 1014 (2d Dist. 1986) ; Joy v. Joy, 105 N.M. 571, 734 P.2d 811 (Ct. App. 1987) ; Cary v. Cary, 937 S.W.2d 777 (Tenn. 1996) ; Haumont v. Haumont, 793 P.2d 421 (Utah Ct. App. 1990) ; Grosskopf v. Grosskopf, 677 P.2d 814 (Wyo. 1984) .

2   Christian v. Christian, 42 N.Y.2d 63, 396 N.Y.S.2d 817, 365 N.E.2d 849 (1977) .

3   In re Marriage of Fink, 54 Cal. App. 3d 357, 126 Cal. Rptr. 626 (2d Dist. 1976) .

4   Baxla v. Baxla, 522 S.W.2d 736 (Tex. Civ. App. Dallas 1975) (disapproved of on other grounds by, Eggemeyer v. Eggemeyer, 554 S.W.2d 137 (Tex. 1977) ).

5   Posada v. Posada, 179 Conn. 568, 427 A.2d 406 (1980) ; In re Clark's Marriage, 13 Wash. App. 805, 538 P.2d 145 (Div. 3 1975) .

6   Chapman v. Chapman, 498 S.W.2d 134 (Ky. 1973) .
 Purpose of no-fault divorce laws is to effect a "clean break" between spouses and encourage a onetime division of marital property. Drake v. Drake, 555 Pa. 481, 725 A.2d 717 (1999) .

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