Sometimes couples hesitate whether filing a divorce is the right solution. Actually, hiring a divorce attorney is not a single possible way out. As an option, according to Family Law, a couple might get a legal separation, which enables the spouses to take time to work out their problems while living apart. With legal separation, debts and property are divided, and the couple also need to come to custody arrangements.
It is an essential step when you either think that there are chances to make up or intend to dissolve your marriage. No matter what is the reason for this decision, a separation agreement lawyer is necessary to facilitate negotiations and the legal processes. In New York State, a separation agreement is a detailed contract that has to be prepared by a separation lawyer.
What Is a Separation Agreement?
A legal separation agreement is a written contract that allocates the rights and responsibilities of each spouse while they are living separately. Keep in mind that it’s not the same as divorce: separation agreements do not end marriages. According to the agreement, generally the spouses agree to live apart for the rest of their lives, although you can be legally separated for any period of time you and your spouse think is the most suitable. Yet, if you intend to use your separation agreement as a ground for divorce, you should live separately for at least one year.
In essence, you stop living with your wife or husband, but follow some arrangements. They typically encompass division of assets, spousal support, and, when the couple have children, child custody, child support and visitation. In case when a spouse violates the agreement, the court can enforce it.
Reasons for legal separation
There can be many different reasons why couples might want to enter into separation agreements instead of divorce. The most typical ones include the following:
- The spouses are not completely sure if they want a divorce. In such situation, living apart is the time for them to understand if they really want to dissolve the marriage.
- The couple is financially incapable to cover divorce expenses at the moment.
- The spouses may not get divorced due to religious or other related reasons, but have resolved that living under one roof is neither appropriate nor beneficial any more.
By entering a separation agreement, the spouses pursue some financial benefits, for instance, continued health insurance. Staying on one medical plan, you save money.
How to Enter into Legal Separation Agreement
There are two ways to obtain a separation agreement in New York City.
The first one is to conclude a New York Marital Separation Agreement. Remember that it’s important to get assistance from lawyers for legal separation. A qualified attorney will help you carefully to draft a separation agreement so that it clearly reflects your interests and can be enforceable.
Another option is to get a Judgment of Separation. Unlike the Marital Separation Agreement, it is very close to divorce, but the spouses remain married at the end of the Judgment of Separation. The thing is that you need to provide valid grounds for obtaining a Judgment of Separation according to Family Law, such as abandonment, imprisonment, extramarital sexual relationship, cruel treatment etc.
Requirements for entering separation agreement NY
To be able to sign a separation agreement in NY, you need to meet the state’s residency requirements:
- The grounds for separation happened in NY and at least one spouse is a NY resident for one year or more at the moment of filing.
- At least one spouse is a NY resident for two years or more at the moment of filing.
- The spouses lived in NY as a married couple and both of them have been maintaining a New York residence for the last year or beyond that period.
- The couple got married in NY, at least one of spouses is a NY resident for at least a year prior to the filing.
A lawyer for separation agreement
While filing the separation agreements, it is essential for couples to stick to certain formalities. It can be challenging to handle all the procedures concerning separation without a lawyer, so it’s highly recommendable to take advantage of the assistance of a qualified family law expert. At Shtark Law in New York, we offer practical assistance with drafting and obtaining an agreement that will most effectively determine your rights and concerns.
On the flip side, if your agreement has been drafted by your spouse or your spouse’s lawyer, you should ask an independent attorney to carry out a separation agreement review before you sign it.
If you and your spouse decide to live apart, an attorney for legal separation will give you legal advice concerning your and your spouse’s duties, responsibilities and the effects of the division and distribution of marital assets. Having financial data and family information, the expert will conduct detailed negotiations over the terms of settlement agreement.