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Choosing to dissolve a marriage is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Divorce has numerous effects and implications. It is advisable to consider legal separation before making a more permanent decision. If you no longer wish to live together as a couple, you can enter into a legal separation. This is an agreement that spells out your decision to live separately. The agreement also includes visitation rights, child custody rights, the division of property and spousal support.
Separation can be sought both for personal and financial reasons. You can consider separation under the following circumstances.
• When you are not decisive and completely sure that you want to end your marriage. Separating legally gives you time and space to think about the decision.
• When your religion does not condone divorce.
What are the financial implications of a legal separation?
• Under a legal separation, one spouse can still be eligible for health insurance under the job coverage of the other spouse. A divorce would end such coverage.
• If you are legally separated, you can still file taxes together and gain some tax benefits.
• A legal separation would make you eligible for social security benefits from the military if you have been married for a period of not less than 10 years. If this time span has not yet lapsed, you can choose to be legally separated until you gain the benefits.
What are the grounds for legal separation in New York?
In Bronx, New York, the grounds to be legally separated include adultery, neglect, and failure to provide child and spousal support, imprisonment for at least three or more consecutive years, cruel treatment and abandonment. A legal separation can also be granted by the Supreme Court. This can be under any of the above grounds. It is important to note that, “non-support,” can be used to get a legal separation, however, this may not hold as a ground for divorce.
Any of the spouses can file for a “no-fault” divorce after one year of separation. In New York, a marriage does not automatically end after a separation for one year. The court must be informed by either of the parties if they wish to divorce after the legal separation period.
What next after a legal separation?
If you begin living together, then the separation agreement is invalid. If you separate again, you may have to draft another agreement or inform the courts that the previous agreement holds. If you opt to get divorced after a legal separation, then you can use the separation agreement as the divorce agreement. This is legally referred to as a merger. You can also wish to modify the separation agreement when getting divorced. If you can do this amicably, then the divorce will be uncontested. If you cannot agree on the key issues, then you can get into a contested divorce process.
The need for a legal separation lawyer
There are certain residency requirements that have to be met for a legal separation to be valid. A legal separation lawyer is the best person to advise you on the legal requirements. The lawyer can also help you draft an agreement that you can later use in divorce proceedings. If you live in different states, you will also require legal expertise on where you can file for divorce and the laws that apply in such situations.
To fully understand your options and the implications of your decisions, it is best to consult with a legal separation lawyer. Our expertise can help shed more light on the issues and help you avoid legal complications in future.