Separation and divorce both involve spouses living apart and running their own households. However, in legal terms, the two situations are different. Spouses who are legally separated are still married.
Spouses become legally separated when they create a legal separation agreement or when a judgment of separation is entered by a New York court. Although the couple is still married, the agreement or court order specifies the terms on which the spouses will live apart. These terms may include arrangements for child custody, as well as child support, spousal support, and the distribution of assets.
A separation agreement may be a good choice if you and your spouse are having trouble agreeing, but are not yet willing to consider ending the marriage. The agreement allows you to set the terms of separation in writing, and it provides the opportunity for a “trial run” of arrangements, like visitation or shared custody, giving children the support they need from both parents while the parents work on issues surrounding the marriage.
When considering a separation, it is important that each spouse work with his or her own attorney. With an attorney you trust on your side, you can ensure that a separation agreement meets your needs, protects your opportunity for an equitable divorce or reconciliation, and serves the best interests of your children.
Although New York no-fault divorce law does not require spouses to live under a separation agreement before they can divorce, there are situations in which a separation may be valuable for spouses. An experienced New York divorce and separation attorney can help you determine whether a separation agreement is right for you.