When considering legal separation in New York, it’s essential to understand the options, requirements, and implications of your decisions. At the Law Office of David Bliven, we are here to provide you with a comprehensive and detailed overview of legal separation in the state of New York.
The Different Types of Legal Separation
Legal separation can be pursued through two primary avenues:
1.) A Separation Agreement
The most common and practical method, a separation agreement is a legally binding contract that dictates key aspects of the separation like the division of debts and assets, child custody, visitation, child support, and alimony.
2.) A Separation Action in Court
The two parties can initiate a “separation action” in court to obtain a judgment of separation. This route is rarely pursued, as it involves lengthy, expensive legal proceedings and is less practical than coming to a separation agreement on your own.
What’s Included in A Separation Agreement
A separation agreement in New York is a legally binding contract. It typically addresses the following key issues:
- Property Distribution: This includes houses, co-ops, condos, land, and distribution – or waivers of property assets.
- Financial Matters: Covering bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, the distribution or waiver of financial assets and debts, and the payment of attorney fees.
- Child Custody & Visitation: Outlining custody arrangements and visitation schedules for all minor children.
- Child Support: Specifying the payment schedule and amount of financial support expected for all minor children.
- Spousal Maintenance (Alimony): Addressing the amount and duration of financial support for a spouse, if applicable.
The Reasons You Might Choose Legal Separation Over Divorce
Legal separation in New York offers couples a viable alternative to divorce, allowing couples to address various issues while preserving certain benefits of marriage. Legal separation can be an attractive option for various reasons:
- Maintaining Health Insurance: If one spouse relies on the other’s health insurance, a divorce could result in the loss of coverage. Legal separation allows for coverage to be continued.
- Religious Or Moral Reasons: Some couples may not be ready to terminate their marriage for religious or moral reasons. A separation agreement can provide a legal framework for living apart while maintaining the marital status.
- Time for Reflection: Legal separation offers couples the opportunity to live separately and assess whether divorce is the right decision without immediately ending the marriage.
The Duration of A Separation Agreement
A separation agreement is theoretically indefinite; there is no legal requirement to convert it into a divorce. Many couples do eventually proceed with a divorce, but it’s not mandatory. Parties can choose to abide by the separation agreement for as long as it suits their needs.
How To Obtain a Legal Separation Agreement In New York
While there are websites offering free or low-cost separation agreements, it’s important to realize that these may lack the necessary elements or specificities required for legal enforceability. Having an attorney draft – or at least review – your separation agreement ensures it meets all legal requirements and adequately addresses your unique circumstances.
Considering the complexity of separation agreements and their far-reaching implications, seeking professional legal guidance is recommended to obtain a legally sound separation agreement.
Whether you choose legal separation or divorce, it’s essential to understand the legal processes involved and consult with experienced legal counsel. At the Law Office of David Bliven, we are here to guide you through the complexities of legal separation and provide the legal support you need.