Separation Agreement Attorney in Garden City, NY

Although a separation is not the same as a divorce, it brings with it many of the same issues. New York is one of the majority of states that provide for legal separation, with only six states having no form of legal separation. During a separation, spouses live apart from one another but remain legally married until they either decide to reconcile or to divorce. A legal separation affects the financial responsibilities of each spouse. A legal separation is the only type of separation which changes your legal status. A trial separation, as well as a permanent separation, done without the benefit of the legal process, has the potential to affect the legal rights of each spouse and often leads to unintended consequences.

Some couples may choose a non-legal separation method, essentially “taking a break” from the relationship, however, it is generally assumed that the same “rules” apply during a trial separation as they apply to the marriage. Whether there is the hope of reconciliation or little hope of reconciliation, it is usually a good idea to make the separation a legal one. Why choose separation over divorce? Some couples choose legal separation rather than divorce due to religious beliefs, a desire to keep the family “together” for the sake of the children, or the necessity for one spouse to continue providing health insurance benefits that would be lost with divorce.

Those considering separation should speak to a knowledgeable New York family law attorney before making any decisions that could affect their rights. The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., can help those who choose separation, to choose the grounds for the separation and to address property, debt, and child-related issues. Katherine Ryan has significant experience helping those who are not quite ready to file for divorce to file for a legal separation yet remain protected in the future.

Residency Requirements for a New York Separation Agreement

Under the Consolidated Laws of New York Annotated, Domestic Relations Law, Article 11, Sections 200, 230, and 231, if only one spouse resides in the state at the time of filing a legal separation, the residency requirement is two years. That residency requirement is reduced to one year if the spouses: 1) once resided in New York, and one spouse remains a resident of the state; 2) the spouses were married in the state of New York, and one spouse remains a resident, or 3) the grounds for the legal separation arose in the state of New York.

Grounds for a New York Separation Agreement

Legal separation is also known as separation from bed and board; the grounds for legal separation in the state of New York include abandonment, failure to provide support, cruel and inhuman treatment, imprisonment on the part of one spouse for three or more consecutive years, or adultery. The Supreme Court of the State of New York can also grant a Judgment of Separation in the state, based on one or more of the same four “fault” grounds as for divorce, however, the period of abandonment can be for less than one year. While “non-support” is a ground for a judgment of legal separation, it is not grounds for a divorce.  The “uncontested ground” of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is only available when obtaining a divorce and is not available when obtaining a Judgment of Separation.

The Process for a New York Separation Agreement

A legal separation agreement is, essentially, a mirror image of a New York divorce agreement, resolving issues related to child custody and support, financial issues, including separating assets into marital and non-marital, valuing the marital assets, equitably distributing the marital assets, and resolving issues related to spousal maintenance. A separation agreement may later be used to put together a divorce agreement in the event the couple is unable to resolve their differences. One caveat to this is that when the spouses sign a separation agreement in the state of New York which includes provisions regarding the children, the Court has the authority to modify or change the terms related to child custody and support, in the final divorce decree, should one parent show the court that the separation terms are not in the best interests of the child.

Each spouse must provide a full and complete financial disclosure for the legal separation and must be honest and truthful when entering into a separation agreement. If it is later discovered that one or both spouses failed to provide full and complete financial disclosure, the agreement can be invalidated by the Court. Some New York couples may attempt to create their own separation agreement without the benefit of professional legal assistance.

It must be stressed that a separation agreement in the state requires formal execution, and, should there be any mistake in the document, the entire agreement could be voided. New York couples should also be aware that a temporary reconciliation could invalidate all the terms of the separation agreement; an experienced family law attorney from The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., can include a reconciliation provision which will supersede the common law that would otherwise terminate a separation agreement in the event of a temporary reconciliation.

What Happens After Filing for Legal Separation in the State of New York?

Either spouse may sue for a “no-fault” divorce at any time after signing a Separation Agreement if the parties are married for six months, based upon the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  Alternatively, either party can file for a no-fault divorce based upon the spouse’s year of living apart while adhering to the terms of the agreement. It is important to note that the divorce is not automatic after the year has passed; rather, Court action must be taken.

How The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., Can Help with Your New York Separation Agreement

Those who are considering a legal separation in the state of New York, require a Separation Agreement, which is a detailed contract, prepared by a family law attorney. An attorney from The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., can help an individual through the process in the most efficient way possible. We can answer any questions, offering a comprehensive evaluation of each unique situation. At the Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., we encourage lasting relationships with our clients, who then refer friends and family to our firm. Katherine Ryan represents clients in Garden City, Stewart Manor, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Huntington, Melville, Woodbury, Commack, Smithtown, Syosset, Jericho, Roslyn, and Manhasset. If you are looking for a solid, experienced, knowledgeable legal team, contact the Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., today.