Legal Separation in New York
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A legal separation in New York is an action between a couple which does not sever the marital ties but establishes a separation agreement which includes all the important issues such as childcare, joint investments and the community property.
After being legally separated, the couple still remains married and cannot remarry unless they opt for a divorce by filing a divorce plea.
Legal separation in New York is considered as the final step towards divorce. A married couple living apart for a long time is not considered as legally separated as New York is the state which recognizes the documentation of legal separation, regardless of the duration they have spent apart.
There are two ways of obtaining a legal separation in New York. These are as follows:
These grounds are as follows:
- Signing a Separation Agreement – A separation agreement is a legal document prepared by attorneys and notarized to be legally recognized. This agreement deals with all the marital issues same as it would deal with them in a divorce case. The property issues such as selling or retaining the place of residence, childcare issues such as child custody, visitation and payment of child support, financial issues such as payment of alimony or spousal support, joint bank accounts, retirement plans and investments, medial expenses whether for the other spouse or the children all should be addressed and jotted accordingly.
It is always advisable to hire separate professional attorneys for both the parties. The pro se or representing the self is allowed, but later the partner representing himself / herself may apply and try to invalidate the agreement as it was not represented by a proper legal channel. This may cause a lot of complications and bitter legal battles between the spouses.
It is also a wise move to file the copy of the separation agreement with the county clerk. A county clerk certified copy might be required for the divorce proceedings if one decides to go for it after the required time period.
- Obtaining a Judgment of Separation – In a bid to expedite the separation proceedings, a spouse may decide to bring an action against the other spouse on the following grounds as defined by the statute of New York.
New York Legal Separation Agreement:
- Cruelty or Inhuman Treatment – A partner can always ask for a quick separation on the grounds of physical abuse, bodily harm and citing a threat to one's life. If the proof is presented, he / she is granted an immediate separation. This also involves refusal to engage in sexual relations for a long time, deliberately posing hindrances in another partner's life or any conduct that can cause mental or physical harm to the other spouse.
- Abandonment – In case of abandonment, you don't have to complete the one year separation period and the legal separation is granted immediately on the basis of non-support. Abandonment comprises of one spouse not taking any responsibility and not making any contribution to the household expenses and chores, locking other spouse out of the place of residence, etc.
- Failure to Provide – It is every partner's responsibility to contribute to one's marriage and the household. If a partner fails to provide the basic necessities for day-to-day living, legal separation can be granted on the grounds of failing to provide for the household. The partner who does not take any responsibility of the children as well as does not contribute in the non-financial fields such as home-making or not providing day-to-day expenses is regarded as non-supporting.
- Adultery – If either of the spouses engages in adulterous relationship and extra-marital affairs, the other spouse can ask for an immediate separation on the grounds of the same. However, they need to produce a solid proof for the adultery. Having sexual relations out of marriage, bearing or fathering illegitimate children and ignoring the spouse all comes under adultery.
- Imprisonment – If either of the partners is serving a term of jail for consecutive three times, the other partner can get an immediate separation on the basis of imprisonment. The spouse in prison is considered to be unfit to provide for the basic necessities and thus the separation is awarded immediately.
A New York legal separation agreement serves two purposes. Let's look at these in detail:
- A Separation Agreement is a document put into writing about all the important issues you need to address for the period of separation to divorce. This agreement consists the division of property, child custody and visitation, insurance coverage, retirement plans, child support and financial support.
- The separation agreement is taken as a decree if you decide to go for a divorce after the waiting period of one year. It is a trial of how things will be once you decide to divorce each other. However, the legal separation does not necessarily means that you have to file for a divorce plea exactly one year later. You can keep the arrangements as they are for a while before coming to a final decision.