New York family courts do not handle legal separations, but you can still obtain one ahead of or instead of a divorce. Married couples create separation agreements for several reasons, sometimes as the basis for a future divorce.
Many couples opt for legal separation because their faith or culture does not permit divorce. It allows them to retain their married status without living together.
Is it the same as a divorce?
No, although it is similar in many ways. For example, you can live completely apart from your spouse but still be married. You can also:
- Divide your marital property
- Make residential decisions for your kids
- Create a child or spousal support agreement
- Agree not to pay each other’s debts and bills
You and your spouse can even create visitation and parenting time arrangements in your legal separation agreement.
How do you get a separation?
Since the court does not handle or grant legal separations, couples must create their own separation agreements. If you have children or complex marital assets, consider seeking counsel to aid in drafting the document. That way, your property, children and rights remain protected.
What else should you know?
As it is a binding contract, you and your spouse must sign the document. To ensure it is notarized, wait till you are with a notary to add your signatures.
- You cannot get legally separated if your spouse will not sign the document
- If your spouse is missing or absent, you cannot obtain a legal separation
- The separation is not valid legally until both parties provide their notarized signatures
We recommend learning more about divorce and separation as governed by state law. Knowledge of the law can guide you in making the right family-related decisions.