Suffolk County Separation Agreements Lawyer Guiding Clients Through the Legal Separation Process in New York
In New York, couples wishing to live apart without permanently ending their marriage have the option of entering into a separation agreement. Learn how separation agreements work in New York, what should be included in a separation agreement and how to determine whether a separation or a divorce is the right choice for your case.
What Is a Marital Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement is a document written and signed by you and your spouse when you wish to begin living apart and want to resolve important issues amicably, such as the question of child custody and visitation and property division. It gives both sides a chance to work out their differences in a more amicable manner without the stress and pressure of going to court.
The terms included in the marital separation agreement can, later on, be incorporated into a final divorce order if the couple wishes to permanently end their marriage or can be canceled completely if the couple wishes to reconcile and go back to living together. The agreement usually includes the rights and obligations of each spouse. Typically, if one spouse is not in compliance with the terms of the agreement, the other spouse may request the court to help enforce the agreement.
In addition, the separation agreement may contain provisions defining what should happen to the agreement if the couple decides to get a divorce. The agreement may call for a merger, which simply means the separation agreement is merged into the divorce agreement and stops existing as a separate document. Alternatively, the agreement may state that the document is to continue existing separately from the divorce agreement – a process called survival. In some cases, parts of the separation agreement can be merged with the divorce agreement, while others may survive the divorce judgment. You should consult a separation agreement attorney to better understand what should happen to your separation agreement in the event of a divorce.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Entering Into a Separation Agreement?
In simple terms, a couple that is separated but not divorced is still technically married but living apart. This arrangement is preferred by some couples for many reasons. First, there may be financial reasons for a separation, such as maintaining medical insurance or other benefits provided by the other spouse’s employer. Next, there may be cultural or religious reasons and even personal reasons. A separation agreement may continue in place indefinitely or may be canceled by both parties at any time if the spouses decide they wish to work on their relationship and seek reconciliation.
On the other hand, there may be a few downsides to a separation agreement. After spending time living apart, you may decide you are ready for a fresh start with a new relationship. However, if you are separated and not divorced, you are not legally allowed to marry another person. In addition, if your spouse’s financial habits pose a threat to the integrity of your marital assets, it may be best to seek a divorce so your finances can be kept separate from your spouse’s. It is always a good idea to seek the advice of a seasoned family law attorney to discuss your case and fully understand whether a separation agreement is the right choice for you.
Can You Challenge a Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement can be challenged under certain circumstances. A court might not enforce an agreement if it is deemed invalid due to fraud or coercion or if it is considered to be unfair and benefits either side more than the other. For example, if your spouse is not honest and is hiding financial assets or has failed to disclose them, the separation agreement may be seen as fraudulent and unenforceable. If you were pressured to sign the agreement by your spouse or were rushed into it without time to consider it or discuss it with your own attorney, the agreement might be challenged due to duress and coercion.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney in Order to Get a Separation Agreement?
If you are thinking about entering into a separation agreement with your spouse, hiring your own attorney or using a trained mediator is highly recommended. If your agreement was drafted by your spouse or their lawyer and you are not sure if you should sign it, you should have a knowledgeable attorney review it to make sure you are not giving up your rights. If you and your spouse want to have a separation agreement drafted, but are not sure where to start, then using a trained divorce mediation attorney can help the process move smoothly and keep you from missing anything.
At the Law Office of Gina M. Pellettieri, PLLC, Attorney Gina M. Pellettieri and her legal team have the knowledge and skills to help guide you through the process of getting a legal separation agreement written in a way that is fair and valid, ensuring you are not giving up your rights and making the right choices for your case. Her office serves clients all over Suffolk County and vicinities and can provide the legal services and guidance you need to reach a favorable resolution for your case. Call (631) 320-1493 to learn more.