When the relationship between two married individuals falls apart, divorce is not the only option. In some cases, a legal separation might make more sense for everyone involved. Separated couples are not technically divorced, but they could enter into an agreement for financial maintenance from one spouse to another while living apart. A Manhattan separation agreements lawyer could assist with negotiating and preparing this arrangement.
If you are considering separation as an alternative to divorce, let a trustworthy family law attorney help. Whether you are financially reliant on your spouse or are facing a request for spousal maintenance, legal counsel could help ensure you are treated fairly by the courts.
The primary difference between a legal separation and divorce is whether the marriage formally ends or not. Legally speaking, separated spouses are still married. Should one pass away without a will, the other spouse would inherit as any spouse would under the circumstances.
Where separation and divorce are similar involves spousal support and child custody issues. Like in a divorce, a separation agreement could establish spousal maintenance to be paid monthly. This agreement could also set out custody rights and visitation schedules based on the two spouses living separately.
Importantly, the courts cannot force a spouse into a separation agreement. For example, if one spouse wants to separate while the other wants a divorce, the court must hear the divorce action. Only in cases where both spouses are willing to enter into a separation agreement is this option a possibility. An experienced local attorney could advise on the potential of a separation and assist with drafting the document itself.
Pursuing a separation maintenance action is similar to a divorce. This process begins when one spouse files a formal written document known as a petition with the court in the county where they live. This petition will set out the grounds for the separation and include other important information about the marriage.
As is the case with divorce, there is a residency requirement for separate maintenance. A spouse seeking maintenance must establish one or both of the spouses has been a resident within the state for the 60 days leading up to the filing of the petition.
There must also be viable grounds for the separation. According to state law, the same grounds for divorce also apply to a separate maintenance action, so no-fault divorce rules apply. This means that a spouse is not required to make the case that the other person in the relationship was responsible for the break-up. Instead, the person filing the separate maintenance action must only establish that the spouses are incompatible. A well-practiced attorney in the area could explain the relevant grounds for separation in a given case.
Separations are not immediate. In each case, there is a 60-day waiting period that applies. This 60-day waiting period begins to run the day the petition is filed, and the court cannot finalize a separation agreement until that window closes.
If you are unsure about divorce, a legal separation might make sense for you. In many cases, it is a better option for spouses if their relationship has ended but there are practical reasons for remaining married.
If you have questions about the process, speak with a Manhattan separation agreements lawyer. Reach out today to discuss your case during an initial consultation.