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Can the legal separation be withdrawn if we get back together?

October 11, 2017 Our Blog

If you have gotten a legal separation from your spouse, it doesn’t mean that the marriage has to end. In fact, the point of a separation is to see if there is any chance of the marriage working out after spending time apart. Therefore, it is possible to cancel a separation agreement if a couple chooses to get back together.

Separation Isn’t Permanent Like Divorce

On its face, a separation agreement can look a lot like a divorce agreement. A couple may agree to divide assets or determine who is responsible for a form of child or spousal support. However, the agreement is not a permanent one, which means that it can be withdrawn if and when a couple chooses to get back together. The agreement may also be suspended for a time if both parties approve of such an arrangement.

There Is Technically No Separation Anymore

When a couple chooses to get back together, there is technically no separation anymore. In most cases, a couple has to be living either in separate locations or in different parts of the house. For example, a husband may agree to move into a motel downtown or live in the basement apartment. Once a couple is living together and sharing a living space, the separation is over, and the agreement is essentially void.

Agreements Don’t Need To Be Enforced

An agreement is only effective if both parties agree to enforce its terms. If a husband decides not to pursue child support from his wife, the wife isn’t likely to face any consequences for not making payments. However, it is likely that she is providing support or otherwise helping to take care of the child in a meaningful way.

In that regard, it is almost like saying that the agreement does not exist. Therefore, it may not even be necessary to withdraw it, and doing so may be more time and money than either side may have to spend on the matter. However, it may still be a good idea to consult with an attorney as to how long an agreement may be valid if there is no attempt to enforce it.

The Agreement May Come With an End Date

It may be possible to include a stipulation in a separation agreement that it expires at a certain point in the future. At that point, the couple can choose to get back together or start the process of filing for a divorce. Having an end date may be effective as it forces each side to make a decision in a timely manner. This may allow for both the adults and any children from the marriage to have closure one way or the other.

Was the Agreement Valid?

If the agreement wasn’t valid to begin with, there may be no need to reverse it. A legal separation may not be valid if one party was forced to sign under duress or if the terms were found to be especially unfair to one side. It may also be invalid if it was filed incorrectly or was not filed in a timely manner.

Make Sure to Restore Joint Status

After deciding to reconcile, it is important for a couple to regain its joint status. For the most part, married couples that decide to get back together can file their taxes jointly and retain joint ownership of property immediately. As with any other legal issue a person may have, it may be best to talk with an attorney to determine how and when joint status be regained.

It is rare for couples not to fight or otherwise engage in conflict throughout their relationship. In some cases, it takes time apart for people to realize how much they need their significant other around. Therefore, the law makes it relatively easy for separated couples to withdraw any agreement that they created and return to their relationship.

Can I date if I’m legally separated?

New York law on divorce doesn’t explicitly give a “yes” or “no” to this question. Technically, you can date before the marriage is over. We all know a spouse who begins dating even when they’re married in the first place. Despite the fact that it’s possible to date, the big question is always how will the dating impact your divorce and the best possible outcome you’re seeking. For this reason, while it’s technically possible to begin dating after a legal separation, the question you really want to ask yourself is SHOULD you start dating before your divorce is final?

Let’s look at the negative consequences that dating during a legal separation could have during your divorce. There are many. The most obvious impact that dating during a separation will have on your divorce outcome is that it may emotionally scar and anger your current spouse. This can lead to the scorned spouse to pursue more aggressive litigation against you in the divorce. While there’s nothing that will automatically award your spouse everything they ask for in the case of dating during a separation, it can look bad before the spouse themselves and before the court, who may be attempting to call in mediators and save the marriage itself. Long story short, it reflects poorly on your character.

Secondly, in some states, it can be grounds for a divorce itself. In other words, dating while your separated may make the court feel that the divorce is your fault. While there are few states where you have to prove grounds for divorce, New York is one of those states. This means that if you date during a legal separation, there is a chance that your spouse could win a divorce on grounds of infidelity (barring any additional agreements that allow you to date). This shows just how serious dating before a divorce is final can be, and keep in mind that you should NEVER begin dating before you’re physically separated. If you’re dating while living with your spouse, this reflects poorly with the courts, unless you have an explicit or private agreement with your spouse and there’s clear understanding of the rules.

The best part of your situation right now is that you cared enough to look into this matter. That means you’re opening to following sound legal advice about dating before a legal separation. No reputable attorney is going to advise you to do this unless there’s some pressing matter that recommends following this course of action. However, as to whether or not you CAN date after you’re legally separated, yes you can, but it may have lasting consequences for the outcome of your divorce.

If both you and your partner have agreed that it’s okay to date, and they’re also dating, then it may not have as many consequences as when a partner is dead set against dating until the divorce is finalized. Also, some divorces can drag out for years before they’re finalized, and in this instance it may be more understandable as to why you’re dating during the legal separation. In New York, judges will look at all sides of the story and find out what is going on that one partner is dating. If the spouse you’re divorcing or that is divorcing you has no problem with both of you dating, it may not even be an issue.

Like most things in divorce proceedings, it’s logical to take this question on a case by case basis. There is no one size fits all answer because everyone has a different set of circumstances surrounding their divorce. Before going ahead and dating during your legal separation, talk to a lawyer who can represent you in this instance if your spouse has difficulty accepting that you’re dating again. Naturally, the lawyer can shed more light on your circumstances and let you know what the repercussions of dating during your legal separation might be.



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