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Legal separation is an option for New York couples

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2021 | Family Law

There may be many people on Long Island who, for whatever reason, do not want to go through a formal divorce. Still, they realize that they need to live separate lives from their spouses.

People make this decision for many reasons. Sometimes, people just are not emotionally ready for a divorce, while in other cases, the financial cost of divorce is prohibitive.

People also may want to maintain certain financial or other benefits by staying married, and others may have moral or religious reasons for not wanting to divorce.

Legal separation in New York can be complicated

Long term, living separate lives will entail more than one spouse simply moving out, especially if the couple has children.  The couple will likely want some sort of formal legal protection.

Unlike other states, New York does not have a process in which one person can ask a court for a legal separation without the agreement of the other spouse. In other words, if either spouse refuses to cooperate with a separation, then divorce may be the only option.

As part of their written separation agreement, the couple will have to decide on things like property division, child custody, child support and other family law matters. Once they do so, they may submit their properly executed agreement to the court.

After it has been filed, the court may enforce the agreement if either spouse violates it. Practically, so long as the agreement was properly drafted, each spouse should be able to live independently and have the protection they need.

On the other hand, the spouses should remember that they remain legally married.

One other detail about separation agreements is that after 1 year of following a separation agreement and living part, either spouse may ask for what is called a conversion divorce. In a conversion divorce, the court will grant a divorce, and, usually, incorporate the separation agreement into the divorce decree.