New York: Unilateral Divorce Case Shakes Legal System


Both parties must say “I do” to begin a marriage, but can just one party say “I don’t anymore” to end a marriage?

New York – the 50th and final state to allow no-fault divorce - the struggle over this issue continues in the courts.

The statute in question: Signed into law on the 15th of August 2010, New York’s Domestic Relations Law §170 permits divorce where "[t]he relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months, provided that one party has so stated under oath."

The case: Mrs. Strack swore under oath that her marriage had broken down irretrievably. Mr. Strack would like a trial by jury to prove that she is correct. So far the courts (Essex County’s Supreme Court under Justice Muller) have concluded he is entitled to a trial, but this decision is pending appeal.

What the left wants: Many find that the unilateral statement under oath is irrefutable. In other words, divorce would now be a unilateral decision and the abandoned spouse would have no basis to defend himself in court. The legislature also evidently expected this to be the case.

How this case affects marriage: If no-fault divorce was designed to simply eradicate the blame-game from divorce between mutually consenting parties, Justice Muller’s decision does not challenge it. What Justice Muller does challenge is the idea that marriage is “irretrievably broken” the moment that one party feels like it is.

Once again, the Left has elevated the wild freedom of choice of one individual over all other concerns. The Left obsesses over escape routes. The trapped individual is their sole concern. Abandoning all care for dependents: spouses or children, the individual has been allowed to flee at any cost. Dependents are not given the right of consent, or even a fair trial to determine whether the bonds between them have been irretrievably broken.

Have we forgotten the ages when divorce laws were meant to protect women from their fleeing husbands? In those days, marriage was essential to social and economic well-being. Only now when marriage seems like a fun (but unnecessary) adventure have we become careless about defending those who don’t want their marriage to end without a fair trial. Perhaps we should start asking: what is it that these spouses find necessary about their marriage? Why do they want to keep it in spite of the trials?

Perhaps we depend on marriage for more than pleasant interactions with our spouse.

Thanks to Beverly Willet for informing us about the case.