In New York State, married couples are allowed to file for a legal separation – an alternative to filing for a divorce when spouses no longer wish to live together. During a legal separation, the parties are still legally married, and they are not legally able to remarry unless they divorce.
In legal terms, separation means that the spouses do not live in the same household, and they are no longer a part of each other’s circumstances other than involvement with children or joint matters such as bank accounts.
When spouses separate in New York State, they can enter a separation agreement, which is a detailed contract usually prepared by attorneys that specifically describes how spousal support, child custody, visitation rights, and division of the marital property will be handled. The spouses are legally obligated to abide by the terms of the separation agreement.
The process of creating a valid separation agreement begins with both spouses providing full and complete financial disclosure as they have a fiduciary obligation to be truthful when entering into a separation agreement. If they don’t provide truthful financial information, then the agreement can be invalidated at a later date.
Once the terms of the separation agreement are determined and agreed upon, the agreement is then filed with the Clerk of the County in New York where either spouse resides. Once the document is signed and notarized the legal date of the separation begins. At the end of one year from the date of the agreement, either spouse may request a no-fault divorce, which only requires a sworn statement that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage for six months or more.
A separation agreement can form part or all of a divorce agreement, depending on if certain terms need to be revised. However, preparing the agreement can be difficult for someone who does not understand the legal aspect of the issues. Furthermore, if you create a separation agreement and later end up in court, that document might be used against you to show you had previously agreed to something you’re now fighting against. This is why it is so important that parties are represented by a lawyer upon entering into a separation agreement in New York.
Preparations are vital during a separation agreement. An experienced family law attorney is the person looking out for you during this process and making sure the legal language in these documents is not going to harm your rights in any way.
Latonia Early-Hubelbank, Esq. at Early Family Law can help prepare your separation agreement. Latonia will listen to your wants and needs and look out for your best interests when preparing these important documents.
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