For couples in Buffalo who are considering divorce, the emotional impact and concerns will often come to the forefront as they decide what to do next. This can obscure the basic legal issues that should also be factored in when the decision is made. These issues include deciding what grounds the divorce will be based on.

There are seven grounds for divorce in New York State. One ground is an irretrievable breakdown that has been in place for a minimum of six months — also referred to as a “no-fault” divorce. To cite this as a ground for divorce, issues such as property division, spousal support and all other considerations must have been settled upon. Another ground is cruel and inhuman treatment. This requires the judge assessing the marriage and any of the problems that happened in the previous five years. Arguments are not sufficient; there must be danger mentally or physically. Abandonment is also a ground for divorce. A spouse will have abandoned the marriage if that spouse left the other spouse for at least one year. This includes departing the home or refusing to have sex with the other party.

Imprisonment is a ground for divorce if the spouse was in jail for at least three consecutive years and it happened after the marriage started. This can be used for as many as five years after the spouse’s release. Adultery is also a ground for divorce if it is shown that it occurred during the marriage. A caveat is that it can be hard to prove as it is necessary to have evidence from other sources that it happened. If the couple has been a legally separated, have signed and filed a valid agreement for separation and have lived apart for at least one year, this can be grounds for divorce. Finally, there is the unusual circumstance of a divorce after judgment of separation. The Supreme Court is involved in this ground and will draw up a judgment of separation once the couple has lived separately for a minimum of one year.

When a couple believes they cannot continue with their marriage, divorce might be the best alternative. However, there are criteria for getting a divorce, which must be fully understood before starting the process to avoid delays and other problems. Those with questions about family law and divorce issues should seek the help needed to make informed decisions.