Effective October 2010, either party may assert that the marriage has been "irretrievably broken" for a period of at least six (6) months immediately prior to the commencement of the action to obtain a divorce under the new "No-Fault" ground. The court will grant a divorce on this ground once the ancillary issues of custody, support and equitable distribution are resolved by the parties, or by judgment of the court.
Prior to that date, it was more difficult to obtain a divorce in New York, as the previously existing grounds were "fault-based." For example, allegations of abandonment, cruel and inhuman treatment and adultery required a showing of fault by the other spouse, and were subject to various defenses. This would often lead to a more protracted litigation, and a grounds trial would potentially result on the issue of grounds.
In this situation, if the party seeking the divorce were unable to demonstrate that the marriage should be dissolved by the court based upon the grounds alleged, and the factual evidence presented in support of their case, the action would be dismissed.
The "No-Fault" ground of "Irretrievable Breakdown in Relationship" is designed to reduce acrimony and overall conflict among the parties during a contested litigation.