What You Need to Know about Legal Separation
Legal Separation is often a first step toward a divorce. It allows a married couple to legally live separate lives while remaining married. In my practice as a Divorce Attorney representing clients in Nassau County and Suffolk County courts on Long Island, I often see couples use the Legal Separation as a “trial run” before getting a divorce. It allows each person to live separate lives for a time to determine if they really want to be divorced.
Separating from a spouse can be a difficult time for anyone. It’s strongly advised that when going through a separation, the parties write out a Separation Agreement. A Separation Agreement addresses all the same issues as those addressed during the divorce process, including division of property, assets and debts, child custody and support, visitation, etc. Should you eventually divorce, the Separation Agreement can be converted into a divorce. There is a strong public policy in favor of separation agreements. Courts have said parties in domestic relations are encouraged to settle their own affairs; a separation agreement achieves this goal.
Creating the Legal Separation Agreement
In New York, when parties enter into a separation agreement, they must live separate lives. Most couples choose to live in separate households and live their lives as though they are no longer married. This is often referred to as “living separate and apart” which is required if the party later seeks to “convert” the separation agreement into a divorce. The agreements must be in writing. In addition, they must be signed by each party, and verified under oath before a notary or the parties must have an affidavit signed and sworn to by a witness. Further, the separation agreement must be filed with the clerk of county where either party resides.
Benefits of the Legal Separation Agreement
According to New York Domestic Relations Law 236 (B) (3), the agreement itself should be able to settle issues and anticipate future problems; it allows for the parties to mutually benefit on family decisions going forward. If needed, the parties have the ability to deviate from the typical New York Law in order to fit the needs of the couple.
The agreement can be used as a basis for a divorce action. This requires living apart more than one year after execution of the separation agreement and the compliance with the agreement. In order to properly maintain the agreement, it needs to be fair and reasonable at the time of execution, and not overly benefit one party or the other.
As a Long Island Divorce Lawyer and Family Law Attorney, I typically help spouses negotiate separation agreements. My daily experience with divorce and separation, keeps me up-to-date with the most recent changes in the law, as well as the most modern separation agreements and clauses in use in Nassau County and Suffolk County Courts on Long Island, NY. If you are considering seeking a legal separation from your spouse, I invite you contact our office for a free consultation, during which time, we will discuss the unique circumstances of your case, and devise a course of action suited to your needs. Call us today at 631-923-1910 or fill out the short form on this page to schedule a free, complimentary consultation.