Staten Island Attorney Handles Marital Separation Agreements
Under New York state law, grounds for divorce must be established in every case — and the admissible grounds do not include irreconcilable differences, inability to communicate, or other terms that assign “no-fault.” This contributes to some people’s preference for a marital separation agreement. Contact me to discuss whether a separation agreement may be right for you and your current spouse.
As an experienced family lawyer, I have helped people draft and file separation agreements under a variety of circumstances. This may be a valid approach for those who:
- Are not comfortable basing a divorce action on other grounds and consequently choose to live separately for one year under a formal separation agreement
- Choose to file a separation agreement with the court so that the basic framework for divorce is already in place, but the parties have a time period to consider whether to end their marriage legally.
- Have religious or other personal beliefs that prevent them from seeking divorce
It is important to recognize that agreement between the parties is necessary to file a marital separation agreement. A legal separation cannot be accomplished through a one-sided or forced action without communication between the parties. People who know they want to end their marriage — but who cannot agree on the issues that come up when they do so — should gather accurate information on contested divorce.
Such difficult issues often include child custody and visitation, as well as child support and maintenance. For many couples, property distribution is also a serious point of contention.
Separation Agreements in New York
In New York, a marriage separation agreement is a contract between a husband and wife that resolves all the issues arising from their separation and divorce. Once the agreement is signed by both parties and notarized, it is binding on both spouses — even if they live in different states.
The couple can file the agreement with the court, and once a judge approves it, it has the same legal effect as a divorce judgment. Separation contracts are common in New York and are often used by couples who want to live apart but are not yet ready to divorce.
The key to creating a valid marriage separation agreement is that both spouses must sign it voluntarily and without duress. If either spouse can prove that he or she was coerced into signing the agreement, the court may void it.
A marriage separation agreements can be as simple or as complex as the couple desires, but it must address certain key issues, such as:
Transfer of Assets and Liabilities
In a marital separation agreement, the couple can address how their assets and liabilities will be divided. This is important for those who have significant assets or debts and want to protect themselves going into the divorce process. Without an agreement in place, state law would apply, and the court would have discretion over how to divide these items. In your separation agreement, I can help you negotiate a fair and equitable division of assets and liabilities.
Property distribution, including any real estate, savings accounts, retirement accounts, and personal belongings, can be addressed in a marital separation agreement. This is important for couples who want to avoid the lengthy and expensive process of litigating these issues in court. I can help you come to a fair and equitable agreement on property distribution in your separation agreement.
Child Custody and Visitation
If the couple has minor children, they must address child custody and visitation rights in their marital separation agreement. This is important for couples who want to have a say in how their children will be raised and who want to avoid the stress and expense of litigating these issues in court. I will work with you to negotiate a child custody and visitation schedule that meets your family’s needs.
Child Support and Maintenance
The couple can address child support and maintenance payments in a marital separation agreement. This is important for those who want to ensure that their children are provided financially. I can help you determine the appropriate amount of child support to include in your agreement.
In some cases, one spouse may be required to pay alimony or spousal support to the other spouse. Alimony is generally awarded when there is a significant disparity in incomes between the spouses or when one spouse gives up employment opportunities to stay home and care for the couple’s children. I can help you determine whether alimony should be included in your marital separation agreement and, if so, how much should be paid.
Debt and Financial Obligations
Debt and financial obligations, including credit card debts, mortgages, and car loans, can be addressed in a marital separation agreement. This is important for couples who want to protect their credit rating and avoid liability for debts incurred by the other spouse after the separation. As a family law attorney in Staten Island, I can help you determine how to best handle your debt and financial obligations in a marital separation agreement.
A Staten Island Lawyer Whom Will Empathize With Your Beliefs
For more information and to learn more about what is necessary to file a marital separation agreement or marital settlement agreements, please contact Benjamin Haber, Attorney at Law, on Staten Island. I can handle these procedures and provide capable counsel should you decide to proceed with the divorce or should you need help in other areas of family law.
Frequently Asked Questions
In a marital separation, the couple remains married but lives apart. This can be either temporary or permanent. The couple can negotiate a marital settlement agreement that sets forth their rights and obligations with respect to child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, property division, debt and financial obligations, and other issues. Once the agreement is signed, it is legally binding on the couple.
The marriage is legally ended in a divorce, and the couple is no longer married. In a marital separation agreement or property settlement agreement, the couple remains married but lives apart. A divorce decree is not necessary to implement a marital separation agreement.
There is no set length of time for a separation. Some couples separate for a few months before getting back together, while others remain separated for years or even decades. It all depends on the couple’s individual circumstances.
Separation does not necessarily defeat the purpose of marriage. Some couples find that living apart helps them appreciate each other more and avoid the problems that led to the separation. Other couples use separation as a way to ease into the divorce process.
A marital separation agreement or property settlement agreement can provide couples with the clarity and certainty they need to move forward with their lives. It can also help couples avoid the stress and expense of litigating these issues in court.