An unhealthy marriage does not always end in divorce. In some cases, the couple decides that legal separation is the more suitable choice for them. This could be because the couple needs to stay married for one partner to continue to receive healthcare or other benefits, they are not sure if divorce is the right choice for them, or their religion prohibits divorce. In other cases, legal separation is a step before filing for divorce.
If you have ever wondered about legal separation vs. divorce, you might find the answers to your questions below. For more specific questions that pertain directly to your case, speak with an experienced divorce lawyer.
What Happens when you File for Legal Separation?
When you file a Separation Agreement with the Clerk of the county where you or your spouse resides, you agree to its terms and begin living as a legally separated, but still legally married, couple. Your separation agreement can contain many of the same requirements written into a divorce settlement, such as how your property is divided, your child custody schedule and child support order, and whether one of you receives maintenance payments from the other.
After submitting a complaint for legal separation to the court, the filer must “serve” his or her spouse with a summons to legally separate. If you and your spouse do not agree to the legal separation, you can seek a Judgment of Separation from the New York Supreme Court. To obtain this judgment, you must demonstrate that one of the applicable grounds for separation, such as adultery, neglect, or abuse is present in your marriage.
Can you be Legally Separated and Live Together?
No. One of the requirements of a legal separation in New York is that the spouses live in separate households while they are separated. You can later choose to end the separation and live together again or even complete the divorce process, then move in together as an unmarried couple. But you cannot live together while legally separated.
How Long Should a Trial Separation Last?
A legal separation as a trial for divorce can last as long as you and your spouse want it to last. It can last forever if you want it to, which is generally the case for couples whose religious beliefs prohibit them from divorcing.
Most couples who legally separate end up divorcing within three years of filing their legal separation agreements. When a divorce follows a legal separation, it can be easier than divorcing from a state of living together as a married couple. This is because the separation agreement’s terms can be worked into a divorce settlement, essentially allowing the couple to continue living as they had been, just now as divorced individuals. After a divorce, both parties may marry again.
Work with an Experienced Brooklyn Divorce Lawyer
There are many reasons why a couple would choose a legal separation over a divorce or as a precursor to divorce. Talk about your reasons for considering legal separation during your initial consultation with New York divorce lawyer Theodore Alatsas ESQ. Contact our firm today to schedule your initial consultation with us.