If you wish to remain legally married but physically apart for financial or religious reasons, or even if you plan to separate for a trial period before pursuing a divorce, then you need to consider a separation agreement.
There are many advantages to separation over divorce. It can keep health insurance available to both partners for example. It can have a positive impact on your taxes. There are many other financial considerations as well.
Too many couples simply move into different homes and leave it at that, without formalizing the agreement. This can create trouble later if one partner decides to stop paying support or decides to start ignoring informal agreements regarding custody and parenting time.
Note that separated couples may also share a home, but should have separate rooms if they wish to be considered legally separated. The idea is you will go from a marital relationship to a roommate relationship. If you don’t engage in sexual relations and don’t live as a married couple would while signing a legal separation agreement then you will still have a legal separation. You may end this separation at any time.
A separation agreement is a formal contract drawn up between you and your spouse that addresses all the major issues of the separation, from the division of assets, to the payment of support, to the disposition of custody. This agreement can be enforced in court like any contract.
The major issues include:
- Where the children will live
- A parenting time schedule
- Who will pay which bills
- Division of assets
- Spousal support
- Child support
If it proves to be livable and you wish to divorce later it may also form the basis of your eventual divorce settlement. This can save a lot of time and money as typically separation agreements aren’t quite as acrimonious as divorces can become. This is known as a conversion divorce: simply converting the terms of a separation agreement into a divorce decree.
In order for a separation agreement to be valid and enforceable you must both have your own attorneys to aid in the negotiations. In addition, both you and your spouse must disclose all assets. Both parties must sign the agreement of their own free will and be uncoerced. The agreement must also be equitable in order to be enforceable. Finally, child support must still be paid in accordance with New York law.
If you’re seeking to separate from your spouse, don’t try to go it alone. Call (516) 679-4300 for a separation agreement consultation today.