Albany's Approval of No-Fault Divorce, Temporary Maintenance Guidelines and Domestic Workers' Rights Are Major Victories for Legal Aid Society Clients
MONDAY, JULY 05, 2010

The passage last week of legislation allowing no-fault divorce and temporary maintenance guidelines, and granting workplace rights and establishing labor standards for domestic workers are major victories for the clients of The Legal Aid Society.

"We applaud the legislators for passing this important legislation, in particular State Senator John Sampson, State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson and State Senator Diane Savino and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Member Helene E. Weinstein and Assembly Member Keith Wright," said Steven Banks, Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society. "Staff in our Family Law and Domestic Violence Practice played a critical role in the passage of no-fault divorce and temporary maintenance guidelines. They worked tirelessly with legislators and community based organizations to achieve these outcomes for our clients who are the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Our Employment Law Unit staff also provided support to the Domestic Workers United in the successful effort to pass the domestic workers' rights legislation."

"The process of getting a divorce in New York has often, and rightly, been criticized as taking too long and costing too much both in dollars and emotional hardship," said Adriene Holder, Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Practice. "The burdens on New Yorkers are considerable, and New York’s laws on maintenance were responsible for a large portion of this burden. Simply put, the passage of this legislation will create a simpler, faster and better mechanism for divorcing couples within New York." New York is the last State in the Union to allow no-fault divorce.

However, New York is the first State to grant workplace rights to domestic workers. The new legislation establishes labor standards for domestic workers. Employment Law Unit staff drafted a memorandum which The Legal Aid Society circulated in the Legislature, and together with domestic worker clients and the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW Local 2325, also lent support to Domestic Workers United.

"Our employment law attorneys and paralegals are proud to have been able to support Domestic Workers United in their effort to change the course of history for this critical workforce," said Ms. Holder.