The Divorce Reform Legislation – Parsed for Perspicuity 2010


The most significant package of domestic relations legislation since passage of the Child Support Standards Act of 1989 (CSSA) was signed into law on August 13, 2010 by Governor David Paterson.

This monograph will delineate and describe the new changes in the law and attempt to anticipate some of the issues that will confront bench and bar. It will also endeavor to suggest possible resolutions for some of those issues, recognizing – and, yes, this is by way of disclaimer – that the courts have been so chaotic in recent years that any attempt at prediction is undertaken at extreme peril.

What is written here is by no means intended as “the last word” on anything. Indeed, it does not even qualify as an “intermediate word.” It makes no pretense that it is definitive. Indeed, there can be no definitive analysis of a law that has yet to go into effect and hit the intellectual meat-grinder of litigation wherein consistency is indeed the “hobgoblin of little minds,” to borrow Emerson’s splendid phrase. It purports to be no more than a beginning, a starting point for thought about the issues that will confront both bench and bar in fleshing out the skeletal statute that has delivered no-fault divorce to New York and in trying to make sense out of the labyrinth of the temporary maintenance provisions enacted this year.

Certainly, this monograph leaves depths unplumbed. That is the inevitable compromise between the imperative of timeliness and the desire to explore every possible nook and cranny of the philosophical, substantive and procedural issues lurking within the new law.

Not all of the new statutory language merits the same depth of coverage. In the case of the new no-fault ground, we will look to other jurisdictions for guidance to see how other courts have addressed some of the important issues over the past four decades. One would expect the New York courts to do likewise as they go about the business of interpreting and applying the new no-fault ground.

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About The Authors


timTimothy Tippins Esq.

Timothy M. Tippins, Esq. is an adjunct professor at Albany Law School and serves on the faculty of the American Academy of Forensic Psychology and on the Affiliate Postdoctoral Forensic Faculty at St. John’s University. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Forensic Psychology at Siena College. He is a private practitioner who has engaged in matrimonial and family law practice since 1975 and devotes his practice exclusively to serving as trial counsel and consultant to other family law practitioners on a nationwide basis, with special emphasis on the presentation and cross-examination of expert mental health testimony. Tippins has served in all major professional leadership positions in the New York family law community, including President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers – New York Chapter, Chair of the NYSBA Family Law Section, and Chair of the NYSBA Task Force on Family Law. Tippins is a regular feature columnist for the New York Law Journal and is the author of the multi-volume treatise New York Matrimonial Law & Practice (West Publishing).

Company Name: MatLaw Systems Corp.
E-mail: tmtippins@matlaw.com