There are seven legally valid reasons to have a divorce in New York. This may seem restrictive, but the fact is that nearly every situation falls under one or more of these seven categories. 

These reasons are called “grounds”. The court would require one of these to take action — that is, to issue a divorce document. 

  1. Relationship breakdowns

This is one of the more common grounds for divorce. As explained by the New York State Unified Court System, it involves an irretrievable decline in a relationship’s quality over the course of six months or more. 

  1. Cruelty

There are situations that go beyond a souring relationship. This ground for divorce usually requires an unsafe situation at home because of one spouse’s actions. 

  1. Cheating

Adultery is a valid ground for divorce in New York. However, many plaintiffs find it difficult to meet the evidence requirements. 

  1. Prison

Time in prison could be a valid ground for divorce. However, the sentence would have to be considerable in length and the imprisonment would have to start after the marriage began. 

  1. Abandonment

Abandonment has a time limit. This could be a valid ground if there is one year of physical or constructive absence — the latter being a situation where sex is denied to one partner. 

6 and 7. Legal separation 

There are two situations in which a couple could get divorced after a separation. The distinction has to do with the source of the separation, specifically whether it was by agreement (more common) or by Supreme Court judgement (less common). 

Grounds are important parts of ending marriages. However, as explained on FindLaw, navigating all elements of the divorce process is essential to securing a favorable outcome.