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New York Gets First Contested No-Fault Divorce

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on January 27, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Gloria Sorrentino's 56-year marriage to her husband was dissolved this week courtesy of New York's no-fault divorce law. It is likely the first time the year-old law has been applied in a contested divorce case. Some readers might be wondering what no-fault divorce law is.

No-fault divorces are cases where neither party needs to take the blame for a marriage's dissolution.

For example: the marriage was simply "irretrievably broken." This is the reason that Gloria Sorrentino cited for her divorce.

Her husband Sebastian Sorrentino contested the divorce. He wanted to stay married. He said that some of their children were pressuring his wife into breaking it off.

But Gloria Sorrentino's testimony paints a rather dismal picture of their marriage. She testified that they hadn't had "marital relations" in more than five years. They slept in separate bedrooms and ate meals alone. They also did not spend holidays together. Her husband hadn't inquired about her health or taken her to any of her doctor's appointments in five years.

Under the old New York law, couples in contested divorces had to prove the other spouse committed cruelty, adultery, or abandonment.

Sometimes they had to "invent false justifications for the split," reports the New York Post.

Or they could get an uncontested divorce. But uncontested divorces take time. Couples have to live apart for a year and must agree on settlement terms.

Enter the new New York no-fault divorce provisions. It does away with the "justification" requirement. It gives couples the ability to quickly get their marriage dissolved -- without a lengthy wait. Under the old laws, wives like Gloria Sorrentino may have had a tough time getting a divorce. Now it will be a lot easier.

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