White Plains NY Legal Separation Attorney

How Do Legal Separations Work in New York State?

The process of legal separation is often misunderstood. Many believe it automatically happens when a married couple physically separates, and each party begins living in their own individual residence.

While that situation certainly creates a physical separation, it is not, strictly speaking, a legal separation.

It is worth emphasizing from the outset that a legal separation is just that – a separation – it is not a divorce. The couple remains married, with all the financial, legal and other rights and obligations that a lawful marriage entails. For example, even if you are legally separated from your spouse, you are not free to marry someone else.

Couples may take the step of legal separation for many different reasons, such as their religious beliefs not permitting divorce, or for a wide variety of financial and personal reasons.

In New York State, a legal separation involves the creation of a detailed legal agreement, acknowledging that both spouses will be living separately. Among other legal requirements, both parties must voluntarily sign the agreement for it to be legally valid.

This legal agreement normally includes defining and documenting each spouse’s rights and responsibilities, often focusing on matters such as:

  • Child Custody and Visitation: If the couple has children, they need to decide if there is to be a joint or sole child custody They would also need to agree upon a regular visitation schedule, as well as vacation and holiday visitation schedules.
  • Child Support: The spouses will need to decide how much and how frequently the non-custodial parent will pay in child support. They should also clearly define payments for additional child-related expenses, such as sports participation or musical training classes, additional health insurance and the like, and the portion of those expenses each parent will agree to pay.
  • Spousal Support: The spouses will need to decide if spousal support is to be paid from one to the other, the frequency of those payments and for a clearly defined period of time.
  • Division of Assets, Property and Debts: The couple will need to decide who will pay which bills, such as mortgages, credit card debt, car payments, etc. If a spouse wishes to claim entitlement to a specific asset, such as a car, that should be documented in the separation agreement.

In cases where there is a family home involved, the spouses should agree about how and by whom that home will be occupied, used, and managed. For example, both spouses may agree that the home will not be leased out or sold by one spouse without the permission of the other.

A properly and fully executed legal separation agreement is a legally binding and enforceable contract upon both spouses. If either party violates the written terms of the agreement, the other can ask the Family Court to enforce those terms.

If you are considering legally separating from your spouse, you want to work with a Westchester County NY Legal Separations attorney highly skilled in the creation of such lengthy and complicated agreements, who will ensure that your rights and interests are protected under the terms of your legal separation.

I offer my clients 24 years of attorney experience in New York Divorce and Family Law, including the drafting, negotiation, execution and enforcement of Legal Separation and other Marital Agreements, such as Prenuptial Agreements and Post-Nuptial Agreements. I look forward to working with you soon.

You can contact my office by calling 914 821 5200, or by submitting my online Contact Form.

Free Initial 15 Minute Phone or Video Consultation

Convenient Downtown White Plains NY Office Location