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Rockland & Westchester County Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > Legal Separation under New York Law

Legal Separation under New York Law


Sometimes, you’re not ready to divorce but you want space and time to yourself to help make that decision. For that reason, New York State law allows couples to legally separate from one another without divorcing. In this article, the Rockland County divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine, P.C. will discuss legal separation agreements and New York law.

What is legal separation in New York State? 

Legal separation is a situation in which you stop living with your spouse but agree to follow certain living arrangements via a voluntary written agreement. If one spouse were to violate the agreement, a family court can enforce it. A voluntary separation agreement is a contract signed by both parties pursuant to a potential (but not inevitable) divorce. Unlike divorce, a legal separation would not end your marriage. Couples can decide to legally separate instead of divorcing for many reasons. They may be unsure that they want to divorce. They may not be able to afford the cost of divorce. Or, there may be some financial benefit such as continued health insurance.

It is important to note that legal separation is more than just living apart. If you want to legally separate, you will need a separation agreement.

What is a legal separation agreement? 

In New York, a separation agreement is a written contract between you and your spouse. The contract outlines the rights and responsibilities each spouse will have while living apart. Legal separation agreements are similar to divorce decrees. They address matters such as property and debt division, how much alimony or child support you will pay or receive, and child custody arrangements such as visitation schedules.

It is important to note that having a separation agreement is what makes you legally separated in New York State. In addition, you and your spouse must agree to all terms of the separation agreement. A court will not force the separation agreement upon you as it would in a divorce.

For your separation agreement to become part of the official divorce decree, you must be legally separated or living apart for at least one year.

What issues does a legal separation agreement address? 

Generally speaking, a legal separation agreement covers:

  • The date you were married and the date that you separated
  • Who the children will live with
  • Who will pay what bills
  • How property such as your home and cars will be divided

It is important to carefully consider the terms reached in your separation agreement. If you later decide to get divorced, these terms can be rolled into your divorce settlement.

Talk to a Rockland County Divorce Lawyer Today 

The Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine, P.C. represents the interests of couples who are separating or divorcing in Rockland County. Much depends on drafting a legally binding separation agreement, so you will want the aid of a skilled divorce lawyer to help you. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin addressing your concerns right away.

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