What Does Legally Separating Mean for Your Kids In NY?

by | Apr 25, 2023 | Child Custody NY

It’s always tough on kids when their parents separate, even if it ends up being for the best for everyone involved. If you and your spouse have legally separated, you’re not alone. While divorce is final, legal separation gives your family the chance to reconcile. It also keeps you married on paper, so you can continue to access certain important benefits. Sometimes, this is the best option not only for you and your spouse, but also for your children. But how does it impact them and how can you mitigate any ill effects?

How Legal Separation Works When You’re a Parent on Long Island, NY

The process of legally separating is similar to getting a divorce. You will still have to reach an agreement with your spouse on things like who gets child custody or how property is divided. Once your separation agreement has been signed by a judge, it becomes legally enforceable. You may be penalized if you fail to meet the court-ordered obligations of your separation agreement, even though you’re technically not divorced.

Some parents opt to mediate their separation. If you do, you’ll meet with a professional who will help you negotiate with your spouse. You’ll go over each aspect of your marriage, from custody to property division, and make decisions about each one. Mediation can help make separating much easier on you and your family by offering a buffer through which you and your spouse can reach a compromise.

What If We Reconcile?

Legal separation gives you the option to reconcile after a period of time, whereas a traditional divorce doesn’t. You can reconcile with your spouse but the terms of your original agreement will remain in effect until they’re updated in court.

This could spell trouble for you and your kids if your spouse later changes his or her mind and decides to take you to court for violating the agreement. New York courts won’t honor verbal or implied agreements, even when you and your spouse are back together. So if you do reconcile with your spouse, make sure you have a new agreement in place before doing anything differently with your children.

What If We Can’t Agree?

If you can’t reach an agreement on new terms while reconciling, consider whether or not it truly is the right move. Parents need to be on the same page as one another and staying married to someone with whom you can’t make parenting decisions can be extraordinarily challenging. You may also want to consider mediating your reconciliation. Even if you and your spouse intend to get back together, a mediator can help facilitate effective communication.

How To Protect Your Kids When Separating

You need to take steps to protect your children during your legal separation. First, establish clear rules and consistent routines. Your kids need to know what to expect when everything feels unsteady. Try to give them stability by agreeing with your spouse on the rules for each home.

You should also maintain communication with your spouse, even if you’re not getting along. Your kids need you to be civil and focused primarily on their needs and best interests. Try not to speak badly about your spouse in front of your children, even when you’re angry. This adds even more stress for your family.

You should also make sure you and your children have access to professional support. As your family dynamic changes, your family may need extra guidance or advice to navigate life. Consider working with a counselor or therapist who has specific experience working with children whose parents are separating. These professionals are equipped to provide you with tools and resources tailored for your individual situation.

Finally, make time for your kids. Put in the effort to spend quality time with them doing things they are interested in or like doing. Your children need reassurance that you’re still there for them even though their family might look a little different now.

Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. – Your Long Island, NY Separation and Divorce Resource

Don’t wait to get legal help if you’re separating from your spouse. If you have children, qualified representation is even more crucial. Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. can provide you with comprehensive advocacy you can rely on. When your family faces big changes, you need someone on your side who can advocate for the best possible outcome.

Contact our office today for help by dialing 631-923-1910 or fill in the short form on this page to book your free initial consultation with our experienced Long Island divorce lawyers.

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