So the NY State Senate was busy today. It approved Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting in NY state and also approved No-fault Divorce. It would have been nice if they also agreed on our long-overdue budget but , Hey you can only ask for so much. From my point of view both of these were no brainers, though lets see if the Assembly will vote the same way.
Let’s start with No-Fault Divorce. NY is the only state in the union that still requires proof of “fault” to get a divorce. You need to establish one of the “A’s”: Adultery, Abuse, Abandonment or Agreement. The last one meaning you had to live apart under an approved Separation Agreement for one year. This was a lawyer’s dream – no quickie divorce meant no quickie legal fees. It meant hiring investigators to track down and catch a cheating spouse on tape; or getting your kids to claim abuse; or paying for hour after hour of high-priced divorce lawyers to hammer out a separation agreement and then wait one year after you have filed it. Or worse. As divorce lawyer Malcolm Taub said in today’s NY Times, the system “institutionalized perjury” as spouses often had to make up a reason to get out of a marriage quickly. Now if this becomes the law, you can tell the truth, claim “irreconcilable differences,” and file for divorce.
NY should go one step further and adopt California’s idea – Once you file, you are divorced. Then AFTER the divorce, you work out child custody and property distribution. This way, one spouse can’t tie up the other’s plans for moving on and getting re-married while they fight over the kids and the Mercedes. It will be interesting to see the effect this has on NY divorce lawyering if it passes.
Now that it severely weakened one blood sport, the State Senate sought to return balance to the universe by approving another – MMA. NY is one of only six states that ban MMA – Connecticut,Vermont, West Virginia, Alabama and Alaska are the others. Why MMA is any different than boxing is hard to understand, but here’s what legislator Bob Reilly of Latham, NY, who is against MMA, had to say about it:
“You just can’t have people beating each other. You can’t expose children to that”
Wait, was this quote about MMA or are we back on divorce? When he was asked why MMA is different from boxing, he replied that he thought boxing should be banned too. Has he seen hockey?
Like it or not, the legislature must be responsive to the public and must keep up with the times. Arcane, protectionist statutes meant to cast the legislature as our uber-parent are not going to fly. While both of the old laws allegedly sought to try and make NY a more civilized, kinder place they were in fact arbitrary restrictions that were kept in place solely because “that’s the way it always was.”
Now if the Senate would just require divorcing spouses to resolve their differences in the Octagon, they might really be onto something.