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Legal Separation & Separation Agreements

When considering filing for legal separation, individuals need to understand there are important principles that go into these petitions. Legal separations differ from divorce for many reasons but many of the same issues must be addressed to finalize these agreements and ensure an amicable resolution to marital differences.

By understanding these issues, couples can craft a legal separation that keeps both parties best interests while addressing such issues as child custody, property division, and child support. One of the benefits of a legal separation is that parties may not need to go to in front of a judge to have separations approved.

Filing for separation

To begin the process, one spouse must file for legal separation in the county where the other spouse lives. There are certain residency restrictions that must be met to file these actions. At least one spouse must live in New York to proceed with legal separation petitions.

Petitions for legal separation must be filed in the county where the spouse resides. Once the petition is filed, spouses and their attorneys must work out issues amongst themselves and present the proposition to a judge for approval to become binding.

Crafting a separation agreement

After the petition for legal separation is submitted, spouses must craft a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a legally binding document both parties must abide by. Issues that need to be addressed in a separation agreement include:

  • Child custody and visitation
  • Who keeps the house, car, and other property
  • Child support and alimony payments
  • Division and sale of any real estate
  • Apportioning and settling any debts
  • Paying property taxes

One key advantage of seeking a legal separation over a divorce is being able to divide property without a judge signing off on the agreement. The separation agreement is essentially a private contract between two individuals.

Can I remarry while legally separated in New York?

While legally separated, couples are still married and cannot remarry or enter into domestic partnerships. The purpose of a legal separation is to keep the legality of the marriage intact while resolving issues to make the separation as amicable as possible.

Responding to petitions for legal separation

Once one spouse files a petition, the other will be served with a petition and summons for legal separation. Once an individual is served with a petition, he or she has various options to respond. The spouse may choose to:

  • Do nothing and grant the other spouse whatever he or she is asking for in the petition, known as “true default”;
  • Not respond because there is already a separation agreement in place between the two parties, known as “default”;
  • Respond but agree to a settlement agreement, known as “uncontested”; or
  • File a response challenging the other spouse’s demands, known as “contested.”

Whichever way a spouse chooses to respond, it is strongly recommended that he or she consult with an experienced New York divorce attorney for advice. Attorneys have the legal experience and training necessary to identify possible issues and craft legal strategies in the best interests of clients.

Syracuse divorce and separation attorneys

If you or your spouse is considering filing for legal separation, contact The Bombardo Law Office for a consultation about your case. Our attorneys understand the difficulties clients may face when going through this difficult time and work to represent our clients with dignity and respect. Contact or call us today (315)488-5544.

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