New York, the last state to require either grounds for divorce or a period of separation in order to terminate a marriage, instituted "no-fault divorce" legislation yesterday, making the easy way out of a marriage a truly nationwide reality. New York has, up until now, had one of the lowest divorce rates in the country.
The New York State Catholic Conference, which has historically been opposed to such legislation along with the National Organization for Women, issued the following statement from its executive director, Richard E. Barnes, back when the state Senate initially passed the bill.
“The Bishops of New York State are disappointed with the Senate action today. Increasingly, society has come to view marriage as disposable and temporary. However, empirical evidence shows that children of divorce tend to suffer many negative consequences throughout their lives, from lower educational achievement rates to higher rates of substance abuse, criminal behavior and imprisonment.
“Clearly, not every marriage can be permanent. But when serious reasons exist, such as abuse, adultery or abandonment, the law provides for quick divorces. In cases where no such grounds are present, so-called “no fault” cases, a couple may divorce following a one-year legal separation. The state has a legitimate interest in such a waiting period, where reconciliation is still a feasible possibility, because of the important place of marriage in society, particularly as it relates to the stable rearing of children.
“New York State has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country. While we see that as a cause for state pride, some sadly may see it as a problem to be corrected. We urge the state Assembly to reject this proposal and, failing that, we call on Gov. Paterson to veto it.”
Paterson signed the bill into law yesterday, saying in a statement: "Finally, New York has brought its divorce laws into the 21st century."