Few people enter a marriage thinking that the union might one day disintegrate. However, there may be instances when spouses grow apart. In New York State, however, such an occurrence does not always mean the couple must divorce.
Under state law, marriage partners are afforded the opportunity to enter into a legal separation and draft a separation agreement. If you reside in New York City and might be facing these circumstances, a New York City Separation Agreement lawyer may be able to offer assistance.
Legal Separation Defined
A legal split allows spouses to live apart and enjoy a “cooling off period” during which time they can attempt to iron out their differences or reach the conclusion that divorcing would offer the most favorable outcome. That said, a separation agreement must be filed with a court of law which would approve the arrangement and enter the contract into official court record.
There is no definitive time period for how long a legal separation can last. However, if the action has been in existence for one year, either spouse can then seek a divorce if he or she so desires. It is also important to note that during the separation’s duration, the couple in question still remains legally wedded and are not free to remarry.
What Is A Separation Agreement?
This document, also known as a separation arrangement or separation contract, dictates how the couple’s legal, financial and personal responsibilities will be handled while the contract is in effect.
In order for the agreement to be considered official, both spouses must agree to the written terms and ratify the contract with their signatures. In addition, the filing document, legally referred to as a complaint is also required to include other key information such as the names of the parting spouses, the monikers of their minor children (if applicable), each spouse’s new intended living arrangements (as spouses granted legal separation must live apart at al times during the split) and grounds for the separation.
Are Grounds Necessary?
A spouse can seek a legal separation based upon the following legal grounds: abandonment, an adulterous relationship, the incarceration of one spouse for a period lasting no less than three years and inhumane treatment (neglect, physical or mental abuse).
Why Opt To Enter Into A Separation Agreement Instead Of Just Divorcing?
Arguably, the most common reason spouses choose to initially ratify a separation contract is simply because they feel their union could be salvageable and wish to explore every possible opportunity to preserve it. In some instances, religious beliefs may prevent a spouse from seeking divorce. Moreover, separation agreements may enable certain spouses to enjoy more favorable financial benefits.
What Issues Do Separation Agreements Resolve?
From a financial standpoint, a separation arrangement will resolve issues such as how a couple’s assets (checking, savings, investment accounts, vehicles, homes and other tangible property) will be divided, as well as defining each spouse’s obligation in terms of satisfying debts including mortgages, monthly bills, various insurance payments, car notes and other loans.
Should the separating spouses be the parents of minor children, their separation contract may also include details regarding pertinent issues relating to their offspring such as who will retain custody, establishing visitation rights for the non-custodial parent and negotiating child support payments.
Though spouses can offer suggestion as to how specific matters surrounding their children should be handled, a court might ultimately be the deciding factor and, in such cases, will render decisions that serve the children in question’s best interests.
How Can A Lawyer’s Counsel Prove Beneficial?
Spouses contemplating a separation agreement will often seek the assistance of a lawyer with experience drafting such legal contracts. An attorney may be able to help his or client identify additional issues in need of resolution or help negotiate better terms prior to the contract’s adoption. If you need the services of a New York City Separation Agreement lawyer, please contact us today.
A separation agreement is markedly different from a postnuptial or a prenup agreement. Prior to the enactment of the no-fault divorce law in New York, couples wishing to end their marital relationships while at the same time protecting each other from the economic and emotional stress of divorce court proceedings would negotiate the terms of their separation and detail it in a legally binding agreement commonly referred to as property settlement agreement or separation agreement.
What is contained in the separation agreement?
The duly signed separation agreement may include but not limited to:
• Child support
• Division and distribution of marital assets
• Custody and visitation of children
• Spousal support, alimony or maintenance
When does the agreement take effect?
Once the separation agreement has been signed and filed, it comes into effect allowing the couple to live separate and apart, as long as they each abide by the terms and provisions set in their agreement. After a year of living apart, any of the spouses can commence actions meant to dissolve the marriage. The divorce decree incorporates the details of the separation agreement in giving orders for the divorce.
Reduced impact of separation agreements
Separation agreements are not as powerful and impactful the way they were when they were first enacted. The advent of the “no-fault grounds for divorce” in New York has seen the agreement lose most of its impact except for those who for religious, moral or other reasons are opposed to divorce but cannot continue staying or living together. These parties may decide to remain legally married and define their ongoing relationship, rights, and expectations in a separation agreement. They can then go ahead and live separate and apart from each other.
How to file for separation in the State of New York
It is critical that you remember that the laws on separation agreements may vary from one state to another. That is why you need to acquaint yourself with what the laws in New York say about this type of agreement.
Thinking of filing a separation agreement in court? This is what you need to do:
i. Understand what a separation agreement is
If both you and your spouse are agreeable to the various terms and conditions of your separation, you can opt to draft and sign a separation agreement which you can then file in court. Once the filing has been made, the court will issue an order for separation whose terms will be enforceable against each of the two parties.
ii. Check if you meet the legal requirements for filing for separation in New York
Prior to starting the process, you should make sure that you and your partner fulfill the following conditions:
• You were married in the state, either of you resides in New York at the time of filing for separation and has been residing in NY for at least one full year before filing.
• Either of the parties has been a resident of the State of New York for at least two years before the separation action was filed.
iii. Choose the right court
You should file the separation agreement in a court where both of you live. If you reside in different counties, you and your partner can agree on the court where you will file the agreement.
iv. Hire a separation lawyer
You then need to get the services of an experienced lawyer to take over the remaining steps and secure you the orders you seek from the court.
How an attorney can help
Our experienced separation lawyer will help you draft a balanced separation agreement that is in your best interest. Speak to us today and let us help you get the order for separation that you seek.