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June 16, 2010


It seems like lawyers would make a lot more money on a complicated divorce arguing common law precedent than they would make on a pro se divorce that followed a modern statute with clearly established guidelines for child support & spousal support.

Ah, good explanation. I noticed that newer and thinly populated states like mine (MT) quickly adopted many of the uniform codes long ago, while the big states like NYC and Cali cling to older statutes and their case law of course.

I figured it was due to a huge and powerful vested interest in keeping things as they are.

OT, but you'll appreciate this. Earlier today another agent and I went business canvassing in an upscale Nassau County downtown area. All of the business people we spoke to were polite, with one glaring exception: a personal injury lawyer's office. The receptionist treated us like we were a couple of lepers with Ebola virus.


I had no idea NYC still lacked no-fault divorce. Everything I know about divorce and support is based upon no-fault and community property.

Interesting that the head of New York's NOW chapter opposes no-fault. I suspect she's thinking of the most likely needs of older, wealthy, stay-at-home wives -- a small minority of the divorces in the nation.

I mean, there are spousal support laws and child support laws in place despite no-fault divorce. If someone has stayed at home, there are provisions for their support. And the great thing about community property is that you just divide it down the middle.

Me, I worry what if the guy is an abusive asshole and you want to get away. The old system gives him leverage. Under no-fault you can just divide up what you've got together and walk away, like any other failed partnership. I think most women (and most men) benefit from no-fault divorce.

Requiring fault also gives spouses who want divorces both the need and the incentive to prosecute criminal cases they wouldn't otherwise prosecute. It could lead to trumped-up charges.

I wonder what the typical divorce costs in legal fees in New York, versus in California. We even have a software program called Dissomaster for calculation of support.

Reading the panelists, the two arguments against the law were:

1) Married couples with children should have to stay together no matter how miserable they are.

2) With no-fault divorce, women won't be able to extort huge alimony payments from men anymore.

If these are the best arguments against no-fault divorce, I'm all in favor.

On the flip side of this, when I as a divorce lawyer say that I'm in favor of no-fault divorce, everyone assumes that it is solely because it means more business. It probably would be good for business, and it won't avoid fault-centered child custody trials, but it should reduce some of the stress on "real people" (non-lawyers), too.

Up until 1966, the only grounds for divorce in New York State was adultery. Separation agreements rather than divorce were the norm. You could also establish residence in another state (Nevada was preferred as it required only 6 weeks to establish residence) obtain a divorce there, which New York State was obliged to recognize. An interesting irony is the case of Nelson Rockefeller whose wife, the former Mary Clark, divorced him while he was governor of New York State. She had to return to her native Pennsylvania to obtain the divorce decree.

I filed for divorce 14 months ago; my teenaged son made it clear to his law guardian 7 months ago that my wife was a terror and he wanted to stay with me, but the process just drags and drags. When two people can not stand the sight of each other the long delays only increase tension and accomplish no good for a child. The system in New York state is broke, absolutely, and requires drastic reform. As it stands, it only lines the pockets of lawyers and Psychiatrists ( aka NYS Forensics law in custody disputes).

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