In New York, couples have an alternative to divorce. A legal separation provides them with the same benefits as divorce. However, it also provides the advantages of remaining married. Local divorce attorneys help couples transition through the legal separation process.
Does a Separation Agreement Mean They are Getting Divorced?
No, by becoming legally separated, the couple isn’t required to get a divorce. It is a legal option for living separately and remaining married. Couples that choose this option aren’t sure if they want to file for a divorce. This gives them time to evaluate their options.
Identifying Division of Debts and Finance-Related Terms
The first terms defined in the legal separation are the division of debts and other finance-related terms. These terms define the responsibilities of each party and assigns ownership of debts. It also outlines financial obligations such as mortgage payments, ongoing credit card debts, and college tuition payments for their children.
Child Custody and Support
Most couples come to an agreement for child custody and support that works for them. They don’t need court involvement to make these decisions. They aren’t restricted to the state’s guidelines for support payments while they are separated. However, further provisions may apply if they file for a divorce.
Spousal Support Payments
The couple determines the exact value of spousal support payments. As outlined under divorce laws, alimony must provide the spouse with the same standard of living achieved during the marriage. An alternative to alimony is to provide more marital assets or provide payment for an educational program to increase their earning capacity. Alimony payments are typically based on the income and earning capacity of both parties.
The Separation of Assets and Property Division
All properties owned by each party are included in these terms. Each party has the right to assume ownership of any properties they possessed prior to the marriage. This includes properties or assets inherited from a family member. It also includes family heirlooms that are of a higher than average value.
The marital property is divided amicably according to New York state laws. Each party has a right to fifty percent of the marital assets. The parties can come to an agreement on their own through the legal separation about these properties. This may include allowing the spouses to live part-time inside the marital home instead of uprooting their child.
The couple can use the terms of property division provided in this agree if they choose to file for a divorce. However, it is not a requirement. Either party retains the right to seek additional assets during a divorce case as outlined in New York laws.
Medical, Health, and Other Insurance Requirements
In this agreement, the party that pays for medical, health, or other insurance policies may continue providing these payments. The couple is still married and each party has the right to these benefits. If they choose to divorce, they need to come to an agreement about which party provides these benefits for their child. If the child requires extensive medical treatments, the state may require the parents to pay an equal portion of these expenses.
Freezing Certain Assets
A legal separation can freeze certain assets such as pension or retirement plans to prevent the opposing spouse from taking ownership. The duration of the marriage defines any legal claim to these benefits. However, distribution of benefits and funds from these accounts are addressed if the couple divorces.
Clauses to Prevent Liquidation of Assets
The couple may add a clause in the separation agreement to stop liquidation of assets. If they don’t identify these provisions, the spouse with possession of any asset can liquidate it at any time. This clause prevents issues related to ownership assignments if a divorce occurs.
It also prevents either spouse from using any asset to settle debts through a chapter 7 bankruptcy. These restrictions stop the loss of assets including the marital home, rental properties, vacation homes, and more. It enables either spouse to seek an equitable division of assets if a dispute arises later.
In New York, a legal separation allows a married couple to live separate lives while retaining the benefits of marriage. For some, it is the last resort before filing for a divorce. Couples that wish to become legally separated contact an attorney today.