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March 10, 2010

STATE BAR ASSOCIATION COMMENDS STATE SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY FOR ADVANCING NO-FAULT DIVORCE LEGISLATION

President Getnick Urges Full State Legislative Approval Without Delay

New York State Bar Association President Michael E. Getnick (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, LLP of Utica and of counsel to Getnick & Getnick of New York City) today commended the New York State Senate Committee on the Judiciary for advancing legislation (S.3890/A.9753), sponsored by Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson and Assemblyman Jonathan Bing, that would allow a judgment of divorce to be granted to either a husband or a wife without assigning fault to either party. The legislation now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Additionally, Getnick urged members of the State Legislature to pass the measure without any further delay.

"The current fault-based divorce system under New York law severely aggravates conflict between spouses and creates an unproductive and destructive atmosphere for the children of divorcing parents," said President Getnick. "This legislation will help to alleviate some of the stress and the burden placed on spouses and families who find themselves in these unfortunate circumstances and brings New York into the mainstream of domestic relations law."

The legislation allows for divorce when a marriage is irretrievably broken for a period of at least six months, provided that one party has so stated under oath. A judgment of divorce can then only be granted if the following issues have been resolved: the equitable distribution of marital property, the payment or waiver of spousal support, the payment of child support, the payment of counsel and expert fees and expenses, and infant custody and visitation rights.

Getnick continued, "The State Bar Association has long supported efforts to reform New York's divorce laws and I would like to commend the members of our Family Law Section for all of their tremendous efforts. I call on members of the State Legislature to pass this important legislation without further delay."

In April 2003, the State Bar's Family Law Section surveyed its approximately 3,000 members to gather data regarding contested and uncontested divorce cases. More than 75 percent of the respondents agreed that fault should be eliminated as a ground for divorce in New York due to the adverse strain placed on spouses and families during this difficult process.

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Founded in 1876, the 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. The State Bar's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years. For more information, visit us at our Web site at www.nysba.org.