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Legal Separation in New York: an Alternative to Filing for Divorce

New Yorkers looking to part ways with their spouse have three options: divorce, annulment, or legal separation. When you’re dating and you want to take a break from your relationship, it’s easy. But when you’re married? Not so much. Can a legal separation help you avoid the hardships of divorce?

Many people don’t realize that divorce and legal separation are two different things, each with their own benefits. A divorce terminates a marriage, and often involves a lengthy court action.

Legal separation, on the other hand, doesn’t terminate a marriage. It simply allows couples to enter into a contract of sorts. This written agreement addresses aspects of the couple’s married life, such as finances, children, property, etc. Couples are still legally married even when they have a legal separation.

A legal separation is a great alternative to divorce when a couple doesn’t want to be together, but doesn’t want to file for divorce, either. There are many benefits to proceeding with a legal separation over divorce. Because parties are still legally married, each person retains the rights to:

  • File joint tax returns;
  • Continue getting health insurance through their spouse, which would otherwise end with divorce;
  • Receive a portion of their spouse’s social security benefits (you must be married for a minimum of 10 years to qualify)

A legal separation allows couples to have a “trial run” for divorce. Their separation agreement can outline child custody and support arrangements, as well as how assets may be divided. Oftentimes, couples will use their separation agreement as a reference in their divorce.

Legal separation isn’t right for every couple, and it does have its downsides:

  • It is hard for couples to create a separation agreement if they do not get along
  • The agreement is meaningless unless signed by both spouses
  • Couple who wish to use their agreement as a basis for divorce must wait one year
  • You must get a divorce if you want to marry someone else

Take time to consider the pros and cons of  separation, and decide if it is the best course of action for your family.

The family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. specializes legal separations. The team of experienced attorneys have helped hundreds of New Yorkers negotiate fair separation agreements.

For information on divorce and legal separation in New York, contact Brian and his team at 718-875-7584 today!

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