Position Statement – 2012
No-Fault Domestic Violence Exemption Bill
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) opposes A.06992 which would amend the Domestic Relations Law, in relation to requiring that victims of domestic violence must accede to a no-fault divorce.
WBASNY is opposed to the No-Fault DV Exemption Bill. This bill may have serious unintended consequences for victims of domestic violence and may actually harm more victims than those it is intended to help. Many abusers have learned to manipulate the legal system and obtain orders of protection against their victims based upon false allegations or where victims have used self-defense protective measures. As a result, it is foreseeable that abusers may attempt to utilize and exploit this sort of relief, thereby preventing legitimate victims from obtaining a no fault default divorce.
The existing no-fault law provides grounds for divorce as long as all other collateral matters are adjudicated or settled. This condition seeks to protect domestic violence victims from being tossed aside without consideration of the financial impact of dissolution. Thus, the law as it stands now, offers significant protection to battered women, especially those who have lost their grounds, or who fear the dangerous repercussions of pleading cruel and inhuman treatment. Moreover, locking her into the marriage may present even more harm as this bill may do where an abuser can refuse to permit a no-fault divorce. Because of poor drafting, the bill language also raises many questions about the meaning of “documented victim of domestic violence,” and this vague language will contribute to misuse.
WBASNY, with over 3,500 members from eighteen chapters across the State, is the largest statewide bar association dedicated to promoting the advancement of women in the legal profession and in society. Our mission commits us to improving the status of all women, and WBASNY addresses complex legal issues as we advocate for change for women and children throughout the state, and promote the fair and equal administration of justice for all. Members of WBASNY include individuals from all levels of the state and federal benches, as well as prominent attorneys practicing in all areas of the law, educators and government leaders.
WBASNY opposes the passage of this legislation.