When things are not working out in a marriage sometimes the best thing to do is to give the situation some space. Often that cannot be achieved when two people occupy the same household. Especially when there are children involved, couples may want some time to determine if splitting up is really what they want to do. In New York, a separation agreement allows two people to remain married while living separately.

At Randi L. Karmel, PLLC, our Manhattan separation agreement lawyer helps make sure our clients’ interests are protected when they need to separate from their partners but are not ready for the legal finality of divorce.

What Is A Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement details the rights and responsibilities of each spouse as they live separately. It addresses many of the same issues as divorce. The division of property and issues relating to children are decided. The agreement also determines if one party will make support payments to the other. Once a separation agreement has been properly executed, it can be enforced by a court.

Each spouse is advised to work with a separate attorney to make sure each has independent representation when making the agreement. Courts generally favor upholding separation agreements as long as they don’t seem unfair to either spouse. However, a court will only enforce provisions regarding child support, visitation, and custody if they are in the ‘best interests’ of the child or children.

Reasons to Get a Separation Agreement

When you go through a divorce, the marriage is over. That means any entitlements you received from being married are now over too. The divorce process can take a long time. There are court appearances and attorney fees. It can be a major life disruption in addition to the marriage ending. For some, divorce may be stigmatizing or contrary to beliefs. A legal separation can be a workable alternative because it can

  • Save time and money – A separation agreement does not require court involvement. As long as the required formalities are observed when the agreement is signed, it becomes legally enforceable between the spouses.
  • Provide time needed to work things out – Couples may realize that making decisions about their future together while the atmosphere is so negative between them might not produce the best long-term results. A legal separation gives couples the opportunity to take a break without having to call it quits.
  • Allow continued financial benefits for one partner – There are financial benefits conferred on married couples – such as tax filing status or extending health care benefits – that will be lost if they divorce.

When Does a Separation Agreement End?

A separation agreement does not have a termination date but may contain provisions that will cause it to terminate if certain events occur.

  • Divorce – If a couple has lived ‘separate and apart’ under the terms of a separation agreement for at least a year, they can ‘convert’ their separation into a divorce via a streamlined process.
  • Reconciliation – The separation agreement may say that it becomes void if the marriage reconciles. Generally, if a couple moves back together with the intention of reconciling the marriage, the separation agreement will become invalid as it no longer represents the intent of the parties.
  • Agree to end the separation – The separation agreement may require that a second agreement terminating the separation be filed.

A separation agreement can be a less expensive and faster way to get some separation between two people so that they can clear their heads and make more thoughtful decisions about the future. The Manhattan separation agreement lawyer at Randi L. Karmel, PLLC, knows that separating from a spouse – even though it’s not a divorce – is still very life-altering. We help you work out the details of your separation agreement so you can start to focus on moving forward with your life. Contact us here for a consultation to discuss your unique matrimonial circumstances or call our office at 212-755-0224.