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A Common Divorce Alternative – Separation Agreement in New York

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Not all marriages last forever. Many couples undergo rough patches; some come out of this as whole while; others may end up broken. In case, the couple have reconcilable differences that cannot be patched up, there are two alternatives available to them; either they get separated or divorced. A separation agreement is an agreement that is signed by a couple to get a legal separation from each other. It is usually signed by a couple when they want to live apart from each other for a period of time without dissolving their marriage. In such a case, a couple still has the hope of reconciliation and be together again in the future. It is an alternative to divorce which is quite common these days.

Just like in marriage, there are certain responsibilities and rights that are associated even during the time of legal separation. Both the spouses need to respect those rights and responsibilities which are mutually agreed upon and mentioned in the separation agreement.

What are the major issues dealt within a separation agreement?

When it comes to a separation agreement, the main issues dealt in it include:

  • Which partner will get to keep the house?
  • Details of child custody, support and visitation
  • Spousal support like alimony or maintenance is discussed
  • Issues of property division (marital liabilities or assets)
  • Any other provisions unique to the couple’s situation

Importance of a Separation Agreement in New York

In New York, mere physical separation from one’s spouse is not considered an actual separation. The couple needs to sign a ‘separation agreement’ and get it notarized by a notary in order to live legally apart under the New York law. Living apart from one’s spouse without a separation agreement will only be a physical separation. In this case, both the spouses will be entitled to equal distribution in any newly acquired property or in any debt incurred. This can further complicate matters if the couple chooses to go ahead with divorce after legal separation.

Additionally, if one spouse starts dating before signing a separation agreement, it is considered adultery, which is a crime under the penal code. Moreover, adultery can give a reasonable ground to file a divorce to the other spouse. Thus, it is important to sign a separation agreement to be able to dodge such problems.

Is there a need to hire an attorney for a Separation Agreement?

Though Sample Separation Agreement NY are easily available, hiring a highly competent attorney before drafting a separation agreement is recommended. This is because even a small, single mistake can render the entire agreement void and thus, not legally binding. A competent New York separation agreement lawyer will be helpful in drafting a separation agreement taking care of protecting your rights.

Can a couple of file for divorce after signing a separation agreement?

If even after the best of efforts, a couple fails to reach reconciliation even after living separately and apart for a year and wants to completely end their marriage, they can file for a New York conversion divorce under the terms of the separation agreement. However, there are a few requirements which must be met:

  • The couple must not be residing in the same place. It is mandatory for the couple to live separately and apart from each other at least for a year before filing for a conversion divorce.
  • The separation agreement must be filed in the residing county of the couple.
  • An index number, associated with the separation agreement, needs to be purchased. This index number is later used to file for conversion divorce.
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