New York to Adopt No-Fault Divorce Bill

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New York Gov. David Paterson is preparing to sign a no-fault divorce bill that would make the Empire State the last in the union to adopt the controversial policy.

If Patterson signs the bill into law, the Empire state will become the 50th in the nation to adopt the controversial policy.

After years of pressure, New York lawmakers approved the no-fault divorce in June with a 32-29 vote in the state senate.

The law allows one spouse to file by simply saying the marriage has broken down irreconcilably. The other spouse has no say.

Click play for an updated report with CBN News' Heather Sells.  CBN News also spoke with Regent University law professor Lynne Kohm about the no-fault divorce bill.  Click here for her comments.

The trend started in the 1970s when California became the first state to adopt no-fault. Before then, the person who wanted a divorce had to prove the other spouse was at fault.

"Judges don't want to hear everyone's dirty laundry in the courtroom, and people would like to maintain their privacy," family law expert Lynn Kohm said.

But today, there's great disenchantment with no-fault. In fact, feminists are now joining with conservatives in opposing it in New York.

The president for the National Organization for Women in New York warned that under no -fault, "the moneyed spouse (usually the husband) would have freedom to shelter the marital assets, hire an attorney, and start divorce proceedings before his wife ever suspects what is happening."

Conservatives say no-fault also weakens the marriage contract, which encourages divorce and makes it easier for the divorcing spouse to avoid financial obligations.

"We are really changing the definition of marriage from no longer 'til death do us part' but 'until I feel differently,'" Jason McGuire, with the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said.

"Marriage is the only contract in the entire country that you can get out of just by your choice without any consequences," Kohm said.

Even as New York looks to adopt no-fault, a number of states are re-thinking it.

"Many states are considering going back to looking at mutual consent laws which require divorce be a bilateral action between the marriage parties," Kohm said. "Both of them have to agree to a no-fault divorce. That person now in a bilateral agreement can say, 'You want to leave, great. Then I need these kind of damages.'"

Other possibilities for states looking to strengthen marriage: require pre-martial counseling and pre-divorce counseling.

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