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Westchester County Separation Agreement Lawyer

What Is Legal Separation?

In New York State, “legal separation” is defined as two spouses who live separately according to a contract that is mutually agreed upon by both parties. In a helpful document, the New York State Unified Court System explains legal separation as follows:

“A separation agreement is a contract between you and your spouse, where you both agree to the following: live separate and apart, who is responsible for paying bills, whom the children will live with, if child support will be paid, what visitation arrangements will be, what happens to the marital property, or anything else you want to include.”

How Legal Separation Differs from Divorce

The key difference between legal separation and divorce is that a legal separation cannot be decided for you by a family law judge—it must be a mutual agreement that is drafted and entered into voluntarily by both spouses.

With a legal separation, you will still be legally married to your spouse and be able to maintain the benefits that marriage involves. Legal separation gives you and your partner the reigns in deciding how you want to go about living your separate lives. You will remain legally married but have full control over how your personal belongings are distributed, how your financial assets are divided, who has the kids when, and how much child and/or spousal support is paid per month (if any). You decide, not the court.

Reasons to consider legal separation over traditional divorce may include:

  • If both parties aren’t fully committed to the idea of divorce
  • A divorce would hurt both parties financially
  • One of the spouses does not wish to lose their insurance

Contact a Westchester County separation agreement attorney to discuss the terms of your separation agreement and whether this is the best option for your future. Call (914) 873-4410 today!

Pros and Cons of Legal Separation

Legal separation agreements are good options for couples who have children, share a high net worth, are business partners, or are otherwise strongly connected even though their marriage has come to an end.

Compared to divorce, legal separation could help you prevent:

However, legal separation cannot:

  • Prevent financial obligations from being stripped or removed
  • Heal a marriage if it is indeed broken
  • Be the justifier for remarriage, as it is not a divorce
  • Act as an order of protection if domestic violence has occurred

Benefits of Legal Separation

When you are legally separated, you will still benefit from:

  • Healthcare benefits
  • Social Security benefits
  • Military spouse benefits
  • Tax breaks

Divorce, whether contested or uncontested, will dissolve your marriage and therefore make you ineligible for any of the above benefits as pertaining to married individuals. Legal separation does not do this.

How Long Can a Legal Separation Last in New York?

There is no official duration requirement or deadline for legal separations in NY. If you and your spouse wish it to last indefinitely, then it would legally hold up. Although, if you wish to divorce in the future, and use legal separation as a basis for the divorce, then you and your spouse must have been living apart for no less than 1 year.

Are There Residency Requirements to File for Legal Separation in NY?

That answer depends on the situation. If you and your spouse have been current residents of New York State and the ground associated with your case occurred in New York, then no proof of residency is necessary. However, if you and your spouse do not meet this requirement, then you must either:

  • Prove a minimum of 2 years residency; (or)
  • Prove a minimum of 1 year residency along with one of the following:
    • The marriage took place in New York State
    • One of the spouses lived in New York State when the marriage occurred
    • The reason for separation arose in New York State

Experienced Help from Andrea Friedman

At Friedman & Friedman PLLC, Attorneys at Law, we have more than 90 years of combined legal experience and a great deal of familiarity with separation agreements as well as divorce actions. Because we have an understanding of how to deal with sensitive issues that may arise in the case of a legal separation, we can help our clients achieve the results they are hoping for while keeping the process as simple and smooth as possible. We represent clients throughout Westchester County, New York.

A separation agreement may be executed and filed in the county clerk’s office, but filing is optional and is only required when you actually sue for divorce. To find out what you need to do to execute a separation agreement in Westchester County, New York, call Friedman & Friedman PLLC, Attorneys at Law today!

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