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Entering into a legal separation agreement or being granted a judgment of separation by the Supreme Court of New York are the only ways in which to become legally separated in New York.
Couples enter into separation agreements for many reasons. The couple may be contemplating divorce and need time away from their spouse to determine if that is the actual case. They may not want to divorce, but want to reside in a separate residence for a period of time.
What Is A Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement in New York is an agreement between you and your spouse to legally separate. It details the agreement between you and your spouse regarding what you both can and cannot do during the separation.
The other issues that are detailed in an agreement are numerous. Each couple will include their own particular details which pertain to their marriage and some of the most common contents of a separation agreement include details such as:
- Child Custody (physical and legal)
- Maintenance Support (Child and Spousal)
- Division of Property and Assets
- Health Insurance Coverage and Premiums
- Tax Returns
- Income and Financial Disclosure
- Debt Responsibility
A separation agreement that is poorly worded or poorly detailed can lead to future legal issues between you and your spouse or cause you to incur debt belonging to your spouse or you may not receive what was agreed upon and must petition the court to uphold the agreement. It is always wise to involve a lawyer who can ensure that the separation agreement is precise and legal.
Although a separation agreement is not required before a divorce, a separation agreement can be converted into a divorce, which then becomes known as a conversion divorce. There are requirements that must be met such as:
- You must have lived separately and apart for 12 months
- Your separation agreement must have been filed in the county in which you reside and are now filing for a conversion divorce
- You must buy a separation agreement index number
When a person files their separation agreement, they must purchase an “index number.” This index number is included in their agreement, and the person receives a receipt. At a future time, they can convert their separation agreement into a divorce.¹ The index number is a way to reference all the details of their agreement. If nothing at all has changed from the time they signed their agreement to the time they file for divorce, the court will make judgments based on the details of that agreement.
Why You Need A Separation Agreement Lawyer
Whether there are children from the marriage or whether there are substantial property and assets involved, having a lawyer for your separation agreement is the wisest decision for both parties. Each spouse should have their own lawyer so that there is no bias in the language that could cause a court to decline its enforcement.
Other reasons you need a lawyer for your separation agreement are numerous, and though this is by no means an exhaustive list, some of the reasons include:
- To ensure fairness and equity
Is the distribution of the property between you fair? If you have children, have you been given the family home or use of vehicles that benefit the children?
- Mediation for Reconciliation
Perhaps, you aren’t sure you want a divorce, and you want to work towards ending your separation at a future time but need help. An attorney can provide a third party mediation that can assist.
- Orders of Protection
Is a partner abusive or threatening? Your lawyer can petition the court for your protection.
- Criminal Charges (if required)
If your spouse has committed acts of violence against you or has committed fraud or attempted to siphon your personal assets from the marriage, your lawyer can initiate a criminal case.
- Modifying Wills and Living Trusts
A lawyer can change your will to reflect your current wishes during a separation.
- Convert the Agreement To Divorce
If after 12 months of separation you decide to divorce, your lawyer can assist in filing the paperwork with the court.
- Name Changes
If after separation you convert to divorce, your lawyer can file for your name change if desired.
- Enforcement Through The Courts of Agreement
Separation agreements are legally binding to both parties. If your spouse has agreed to pay insurance premiums under the agreement but fail to do so, your lawyer can have the agreement enforced by the courts.
¹nycourts.gov, What You Need To Know Before Starting Your Divorce Action (Rev. 3/1/16), CONVERSION OF A WRITTEN SEPARATION AGREEMENT DRL §170 (6) (2016).
When married couples split up, there is a lot of work to handle while moving forward. The specialized assistance of NYC Separation Agreements Lawyers can streamline the legal process of becoming single. This guide demonstrates the ways that expert attorneys can assist their clients during separation and divorce.
Most married couples share practically everything they own, so it can be uniquely challenging to divvy up possessions between former partners. NYC lawyers that focus on Separation Agreements can map out the terms of ownership of all belongings. Every single piece of property can be allocated with an itemized inventory. This list can make sure that the financial worth is equivalent for each person’s share. Additionally, major investments can be handled with minimal hassle. These attorneys can help figure out who gets to keep residential properties, automobiles, stocks and amenities.
Arrange Alimony and Child Support:
Financial income must also be settled upon severing a relationship. Many spouses can claim that they were acclimated to a certain lifestyle, which can earn them monthly alimony payments to maintain expensive habits and existing obligations. Separations are more complicated if children are also involved. In these cases, child support may be necessary on top of the alimony. Eligibility for receiving monetary support from the other party is based on a combination of several nuanced factors. This is also true for the exact amount of payments. The elements that most commonly influence a judgment in these matters are earnings, debt, prenuptial contracts and marriage duration.
Determine Custody and Visitation:
Most separating couples fail to agree about a lot of issues, but determining who gets to raise the kids is a chief concern during this process. If they cannot come to a working arrangement on their own, a NYC Separation Agreements Lawyer can facilitate sessions to work it out. If animosity persists, the matter can be brought before a judge. This official can grant custody to one or both parents; furthermore, they can stipulate the exact terms for each kid’s living situation. These regulations apply until each child reaches the adult age of 18. At this point, they are allowed to make their own decisions about home and family.
Separation is the preliminary stage before divorce. This next step takes a little more time and work. The NYC Separation Agreements Lawyers at this firm cater to streamlining this process. By making the first stage easier, the entire divorce becomes less of a hassle. Acquiring the initial separation grants a clearer perspective to both sides. Once the distance is set in place, a cohesive plan for divorce proceedings can be discussed with less emotional disruptions and volatile interactions. The most important step is entering the first stage of freedom, and this arrives when a separation is officially set into motion.
Apply for Name Changes:
After the divorce is finished, both parties may not want to keep a matching name. This predicament is more common among women, especially since they are more likely to have taken their husband’s name in the first place. A lot of parties choose a return to their familial birth name, but others simply create a new name and identity. A few people decide to drop their surname altogether. Ultimately, there are a lot of options to explore in the realm of picking an original legal moniker during this new beginning.
Modify the Will:
After the dissolution of marriage, many partners forget to remove their former lover from their will. As a consequence, ex-spouses are sometimes left as beneficiaries to old estates. This is why the recipient of an inheritance should be switched right away; otherwise, their fortunes may fall into the wrong hands. When someone alters their will after a separation, the most common new recipient is either a parent or a child.
Get Restraining Orders if Needed:
If it is impossible for a pair to achieve amicability, one of these expert attorneys can navigate the steps of attaining a protection order. This legal document prevents any contact between two people. All it takes for formal approval is the ability to back up claims of mistreatment in court. Harassment and intimidation should never be tolerated. NYC Separation Agreements Lawyer will do everything in their power to protect their clients from abusive former spouses. While their main goal is to handle everything in a peaceful fashion, they will not take criminal threats lightly. Their seriousness helps get the job done for newly independent victims of abuse that need a fresh start in life.
Consider Pressing Criminal Charges:
If matters escalate out of control, a NYC Separation Agreements Lawyer can help a victim of abuse file charges against a violent partner. Jilted spouses can commit acts of revenge, and these incidents must be handled diligently. This kind of scenario also indicates a lack of cooperation, so proving criminal activity in front of a judge will help the victim’s separation case too. If a parent is convicted of a felony, their fitness to raise a kid is called into question and cast into doubt. Their rights may be quickly revoked in favor of the other parent.
Look into Settling Outside Court:
Personal agreements require less formality and bureaucracy, so it is wise to consider reaching a settlement before litigation is finalized. If both sides are willing to engage in a productive conversation about the future, then there is no need to get a judge involved. With the guidance of a professional NYC Settlement Agreements Lawyer, these meetings can lead to a positive outcome for everyone.
Find Extra Resources:
Separations can be too much to handle for some people, especially if they have been attached to their union for a long time. Homelessness is a somewhat frequent concern that NYC Separation Agreements Lawyers can fix. In emergency situations, they can give clients access to food and shelter. Medical resources may also be on hand if financial changes cause declines in health. Child services and day care can be found on short notice before a trial.
Some couples decide not to split after all, and it is often thanks to the mediation services of a NYC Separation Agreements Lawyer. All of the big differences can be hashed out while debating the terms of their split; amazingly, this discussion can actually facilitate a healing discourse. When every concern is resolved on paper, the pair may realize that there is no reason to separate anymore. This does not happen every time, but it is always a welcome possibility.
Premiere NYC Separation Agreement Lawyers fight hard to help couples separate amicably. They understand that every relationship is uniquely nuanced, so they are suited for tackling a wide range of marital conflicts. By creating an environment where everything is out in the open, these wise attorneys can solve interpersonal issues that have lasted for decades. No case is too difficult for Raiser & Kenniff, PC. This organization innately knows how to remove the stress from separation and divorce. The specialists here will work tirelessly to find a satisfactory resolution to an unsatisfactory union.
Laws governing marriage and divorce vary from one place to the next. Each state will have highly specific laws that apply to issues such as child custody, the division of property and any other issues that arise once the parties get married. The same is true of if they decide to get divorced. One area that has highly specific laws in regards to this matters is New York state. New York allows for many different types of laws and varied types of financial arrangements. One such arrangement is that of what is known as a legal separation. A legal separation is an option that many couples have chosen. It serves many purposes. It can allow both parties to the marriage to come to an agreement to live apart from each other without conflict. This kind of arrangement can also help as the couple starts to figure out if the path to divorce is one they would like to take. Like a number of other states, a separation is possibility in New York City. Anyone who is thinking about this process should keep certain things in mind along the way. It is important to begin with legal counsel before signing any legal separation agreement.
The decision to have a separation needs to be done properly. Each party must agree to the terms of the separation agreement. They need to understand what is going to happen and why. For example, one party may agree to vacate the primary family home. In that case, the agreement may work out when they leave. It may also work out what rights they have to visit the space as well as what they are entitled to in the event the primary residence is sold. Another aspect of the agreement that needs be worked out with care is the issue of children. Just like any divorce, it is possible to arrange for custody during the course of a separation. The custody agreements can be quite detailed. One parent may assume primary custody while the other agrees to certain visitation rights and the amount of child support they will agree to pay to help that spouse. Anyone who is planning a separation should keep in mind that this process can take some time to complete. It may take several weeks or even months for the process to get off the ground and for it to be finalized under law.
A Legal Document
Anyone who is planning this type of living arrangement should keep in mind that in New York state, the separation is not merely a private agreement between the two parties. The agreement is considered a formal contract that can be enforced by the court system. If one party fails to pay the required spousal support or has not moved out of the house by the required time, this is considered a breach of contract under New York state law. The other party can go to court and legally require someone to live up to their end of the separation. This is why it is a good idea to make sure to have proper legal counsel as the process begins and as it continues apace. The right legal counsel can help with many varied aspects of the procedures involved. Under state and city laws, each party has the right to have an agreement that meets their needs and allows them to get what they need in order to get a separation that works for them. A lawyer can offer the kind of counsel necessary to create that document and make sure it is legally enforceable.
Any Further Steps
Some people are content to let a separation continue for many years. This can be a useful solution in a region where housing prices are much higher than the national average. This allows both parties to continue to function without the need to live with a party they do not like. The agreement can be also be a useful tool that lets people realize they would like to think about getting together again. An agreement of this kind can give them time to cool off. If this happens, it will be necessary to legally break the agreement under state law. A lawyer can file all necessary paperwork. However, sometimes the legal separation can make it clear that a divorce is a good idea. In that case, the legal separation can illustrate the parties have met the legal conditions for a divorce.