The termination of a marriage by legal action, requiring a petition or complaint for divorce by one party. In New York, The substantive issues in divorces are division of property, child custody and support, alimony (spousal support), child visitation and attorney's fees. Only state courts have jurisdiction over divorces, so the petitioning or complaining party can only file in the state in which he/she is and has been a resident for a period of time (as little as six weeks in Nevada).

Until 2010, New York recognized divorces only upon fault-based criteria, though the parties could agree to enter into a separation and have the separation agreement or judgment be the further basis for a divorce after one year. The parties could also agree to an uncontested divorce as long as one of the parties was willing to allege one of the fault based grounds or had the requisite separation agreement or judgment.  
On August 15, 2010, Governor David Paterson signed no fault divorce into law in New York state.  The new NY matrimonial laws provided that a divorce could be granted where the relationship between the husband and wife had broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months.  The laws also modified the process for awards of temporary maintenance (spousal support) while a divorce in New York was pending. The revision included a formula and list of factors for making such awards so that spouses who earned less would not fall into financial hardship and indigence during the divorce. The new laws also created a presumption which generally provided that the spouse who earns more money in a New York divorce is required to pay the other party’s divorce legal fees.

The cause of action for divorce in New York state (accusations against the defendant by the plaintiff that are grounds for divorce) include:

*Cruel and inhuman treatment (Domestic Relations Law §170.1)
*Abandonment for a continuous period of one year or more (DRL §170.2)
*Imprisonment for more than three years subsequent to the marriage (DRL §170.3)
*Adultery (DRL §170.4)
*Conversion of a separation judgment (DRL §170.5)
*Conversion of a written and acknowledged separation agreement after living separate and apart for more than one year (DRL §170.6)
*The relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months (DRL §170.7)