No fault divorce have been the newest concept introduced in American legislations, pertaining to marriage ends. First come into effect in 1969 in most parts of the country, no fault breakup was a revolution of sorts when it was first introduced. The entire purpose of the concept was to ensure that individuals, especially women, did not have to undergo additional stress and inconveniences while attempting to go through with a legal termination of relationship, itself a stressful and painful process, without the element of legal entanglements stepping in to complicate matters even further.
It was for this very reason that the concept was introduced in the late 1960s. Previously, people had to provide “proof” before the court against the spouse they were seeking a legal separation from. This proof could be based on various reasons- be it domestic abuse, sexual deviancy and/ or unfaithfulness, financial instability, addiction, abandonment et cetera.
This was obviously a practice which was burdensome and not entirely relevant in most cases where both parties had given the mutual consent for the breakup. No fault breakup enabled aggrieved parties to file for legal break-off in the court without having to provide any kind of proof against their spouse. A claim of “irreconcilable differences” by one or both of the parties in question was enough to file such case. The passing of the “no fault divorce” bill was welcomed in most states except for one very prominent exception- the state of New York.
New York and its Relationship With the Bill
The state of New York was opposed to the passing of the bill in its jurisdiction even after decades of it being passed in other states of America. The reason for this seemingly unreasonable opposition was because the legislators in New York felt that the concept opened up loopholes for unreasonable advantages to be taken against vulnerable parties, for example, aggrieved women involved in the troubled marriages would be made to settle for less, i.e. a case of lesser alimony from abusive and/ or neglectful husbands, weakening the influence of women in break-off cases as the bill ensured that the cause for the filing an appeal for legal termination of relationship was not as severe as other legal kinds of separations. Hence, its divorce statistics was quite different as compared to other states.
However, all this changed by the turn of the decade and by late 2009, New York legislators were giving some serious thought to legalizing and validating the no fault form of breakup. Finally, in October 2010, the bill was passed, a good 40 years after the citizens of other states were able to take advantage of the simplified and faster process that also impacted the divorce statistics.
Breakup Rates and Trends Before the Passing of the Bill
We saw what a historic, social, psychological and legal change the introduction of the bill brought about in the country, but what about the raw numbers? So what has changed when it comes to breakup rates after the introduction and passing of the bills in the various states?
Well, just before the passing of the bill in 1969, it was noted by Miami based lawyer Stanley Rosenblatt that about every one in four marriages would end in breakup, out of which 85% to 90% would go uncontested. It was also observed that before the passing of the bill, the number of lawyers who specialized in break-off cases were highly small, and that people would be a lot more analytical and careful while choosing a marital partner for a lifelong relationship.
Also, before “irreconcilable differences” became such a popular reason or ground for filing an appeal for legal termination of relationship pre no fault breakup, the most common cases for the separation were cruelty (leading at 40%), desertion came in second at 33%, followed by the ever present adultery, then addiction (specifically alcoholism), then felony conviction, with non-support and impotence rounding up the top seven reasons for marital breakups in America.
With the lengthy legal proceedings involved with split-up removed with the arrival of the bill, combined with the increase of women in the workforce in the 1970s, there was a steep rise in breakup rates in America at that period of time. Remarriage after divorce statistics also grabbed attention of a high number of experts on the topic. (also refer to our page on “Divorce Statistics in America” for more on this subject).
Break-off Trends in New York Post the Passing of the Bill
Even though the bill was introduced in New York legislature on October 2010, by July 2011 it was observed that there was already a 12% increase in the number of breakup cases filed in the state. The spike in the percentages in NY took place over only a 7 month duration after the bill was passed.
No fault divorce may have simplified the court procedures related to breakups, but in the process, the split-up rate have also experienced a steep rise wherever the bill was passed in the country.