Divorce and Annulments
Divorce and annulments are a short hand way of saying matrimonial actions as they cover the bulk of them. Matrimonial actions are listed in DRL 236 Part B and are as follows:
- Annulment or dissolution of a marriage
- Declaration of the nullity of a void marriage
- Declaration of the validity or nullity of a foreign judgment of divorce
- Declaration of the validity or nullity of a marriage
- Proceedings to obtain maintenance or a distribution of marital property following a foreign judgment of divorce.
The most common type of matrimonial action is a divorce. Annulments are a distant second. It is the act of getting married authorizes the court to have authority in a matrimonial action, even if the marriage is void from the start.
Before 1966 the only grounds for a divorce was adultery and under the law at the time, marital fault was the largest factor in a divorce, since committing adultery could preclude the wife from obtaining alimony.
As grounds became more liberalized from 1966 through the 1970s, they played less and less of an role in divorces.
Once equitable distribution was enacted in 1980s, the main role for grounds was to dismiss matrimonial actions to prevent the court from awarding marital property.
With the adoption of no fault divorce in 2010, ground play almost no significant role in divorce actions, unless they are so egregious they shock the consciousness of the court.
With the removal of grounds as a main issue of matrimonial actions, the bulk of the focus is on the financial aspect and children. Today, a divorce is best views as a breakup of a business partnership with the issues being how to determine who gets what.