of outdated notions of marriage. They have significant financial and emotional costs. A trial on the issue of grounds often costs the litigants thousands of dollars in legal fees, as well as costing the legal system significant court time hearing the details of a marriage which is obviously dead, but may not be entitled to come to an end under the current law. Most troubling, the inability to get divorced may increase incidents of domestic violence and jeopardize the safety and well- being of the spouses.
Since 1967 some portion of the Family Law Statutes of the State of New York (the Domestic Relations Law or the Family Court Act) has undergone major modifications approximately every ten years. This march of change has permitted the modifications to take hold while giving time for reason to prevail before the next modification. Thus, the Legislative and the Executive Branches have had the benefit of reviewing societal change, court rulings or federal mandates before enacting statutory changes. For some, this move for change has been too slow, for others, too fast. It is now, however, clearly time for the next modification, the enactment of legislation permitting grounds for divorce based upon the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage.
In enacting legislation to permit “No Fault” divorce, New York would be joining every other jurisdiction of the union that permits marriages to end without casting blame on either party. The bill under consideration does not eliminate any of the grounds for divorce that presently exist under Section 170 of the Domestic Relations Laws. Rather, the proposal would amend Section 170 by adding legislation to permit parties to end their marriages without the finding of fault on the part of either party while permitting other parties to still avail themselves of the fault grounds if they choose.
There has been much discussion over the years that the institution of marriage is the foundation of civilization and as such everything should be done to foster its continuation. However, there is no indication that the advent of "No Fault" statutes actually undermines the institution of marriage. The varying rates of divorce cannot be tracked to any particular state's "No Fault" statute. It does no damage to the importance of marriage, as an institution, to understand and accept the fact that the ideal of a perfect marriage or relationship, while important, may not always be attainable, or that some marriages should end even when adultery