Legal Separation in New York State
Legal separation is when you stop living with your spouse but follow certain arrangements as per a written agreement between you and your spouse. A written separation agreement must be voluntarily entered into by both spouses. Should either spouse violate the agreement, family court can enforce it. A properly executed separation agreement that makes you legally separated. Without one, you are not considered separated.
What is a separation agreement?
A separation agreement is a written contract between you and your spouse that is entered during your marriage. It demonstrates the rights and responsibilities of each spouse while living separately. The rights and responsibilities can include the following: division of property and debt, amount of child support to be paid and/or received, and child custody/visitation schedules.
What does a separation agreement cover?
A separation agreement generally includes basic information relating to your marriage such as date and location of marriage, date of separation (or intended date), allocation of debt and bills, division of property, division of pensions or retirement accounts (if applicable), details relating to your child(ren) if any, such as; child living arrangements, child custody and visitation, child support as well as child care and education expenses.
What are the steps to getting a separation agreement?
First, you would want to speak to an Attorney to fully assess your situation and what should be put into the agreement.
Next, our agreement would then be drafted by the Attorney (we do not recommend you attempt to draft a separation agreement on your own to avoid any legal errors). Then, both you and your spouse will read and sign it before different Notary Publics. As soon as it is notarized, it becomes legally binding.
Lastly, the fully executed agreement must be filed with the County Clerk. Once filed, the process is complete.
What if I want to file for divorce after I already have a separation agreement in place?
You are able to file for a divorce based on your separation agreement one year after the date of notarization. This is called “conversion” under DRL 170.6, no grounds would be necessary except for the agreement. We suggest you contact an Attorney to get started with initiating your divorce to properly incorporate the terms of your agreement.
Keep in mind with legal separation, you are still married to your spouse (even if you are physically living apart). If you prefer to be divorced from your spouse, head over to the uncontested and contested divorce page.
We suggest you hire an experienced matrimonial lawyer to insure your best interests are protected and reflected in your agreement. Contact us for a consultation.