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Grounds for Legal Separation in Suffolk County

Understanding Legal Separation in New York

Often married couples find themselves not wanting to get divorced, although they want to go in separate directions and lead different lives from each other. This is usually after being married for many years and there are often kids to think about in making such a serious, life-altering decision.

There are multiple different circumstances that would allow for a couple to legally separate, rather than obtain a divorce. The grounds for a legal separation are quite similar to the grounds for divorce, so often this decision is made to preserve health insurance benefits as well as the possibility of reconciliation.

What is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce in New York?

Man and woman signing papers - grounds for legal separation

A legal separation exists when the married couple both sign an agreement in proper form that states that it is their intent to live separate and apart from each other even though they are still married. Couples that have been living apart but have not yet signed such an agreement are not legally separated.

The separation agreement will usually contain nearly all of the same provisions that a full divorce settlement agreement contains. However, the parties have agreed not to immediately pursue the finalization of their divorce. Therefore, all of the provisions for child support, custody, property division and spousal support are usually contained in both agreements. When a year has passed, either party may choose to obtain a divorce based upon their having lived separate and apart for a period of at least one year pursuant to a written agreement.

Much like a divorce, determining important details such as child custody and support, spousal support is the goal so that a written separation agreement can be reached. In such a case, it is important that you have a lawyer's assistance with ensuring that all the legal issues are addressed in a carefully drafted separation agreement.

As in a divorce, the court can determine all of those issues and the distribution of a married couple's assets if they cannot come to an agreement.


Contact a Suffolk County separation lawyer for experienced legal guidance during the separation process.


What to Include in Your Legal Separation Agreement

The terms laid out in your agreement should be analyzed carefully, as it can be utilized if you and your spouse decide on a divorce later down the line. For this reason, consulting with an attorney should become a priority. Generally, a legal separation agreement would include:

  • How property would be divided; this includes any debt
  • Who would be responsible for the larger bills
  • Who would have custody of the child(ren). This can include visitation and parenting schedules
  • Who is responsible for child support and/or spousal support
  • Information that includes your date of marriage and date of separation

Are There Options Outside of Legal Separation or Divorce?

Both divorce and legal separation have their pros and cons, resulting in scenarios that are not appealing for everyone. For this not interested in these two options, here are a couple things to consider:

  • You can live separately without putting it into writing. Sometimes getting away from your spouse, even for months at a time, can save a marriage.
  • Live apart and file for a petition in a family court that would help designate issues such as child custody, support, etc.

Why Would you Get a Legal Separation Instead of a Divorce?

Some advantages to a legal separation include:

  • Health insurance coverage for the spouse that does not have his or her own coverage can be maintained as part of the "family plan" if legally separated and not divorced
  • Couples that are not sure if they want to divorce and wish to leave open the possibility of reconciliation will not have to remarry since they were never divorced
  • Couples that for religious reasons do not wish to divorce but still want to live separately

Keep in mind that one cannot remarry until a divorce is granted. So if one person wants to remarry and does not want to wait, a separation agreement will not meet his or her needs.

Let Us Represent You

Having Steven P. Kuhn, Esq. represent you means having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney on your side. With over 30 years of combined experience in the field of family law, we can advise you on how state law will affect your case.

We will work aggressively on your behalf to help you negotiate the separation agreement and obtain everything to which you are entitled. A separation can be a very difficult and stressful experience, and it is our goal to make it as fast and smooth as is possible for you. Our firm serves individuals seeking a legal separation throughout the towns of Suffolk County.


To learn more about a legal separation and how to proceed, contact our Suffolk County divorce lawyers.


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