Separation Agreement: A Divorce Mediation Service
Many people call us at asking about preparing a mediated separation agreement. They don’t want a divorce, but what some clarity between them about money and children and houses. Some want to sign a Separation Agreement to gain a legal separation in New York State, but want to continuing living in the same house. Others are going to live apart for a time, but don’t want to commit to a divorce — a trial separation Suffolk County — and they need a marriage separation agreement. Others want to keep the other spouse in health insurance or some other benefit they would lose if they got divorced but to resolve everything else — a divorce in all but the legal sense. In almost all cases, employers allow spouses to stay on each other’s health insurance if there is a legal separation but not a divorce.
How does getting a separation work? How is it different from divorcing?
Separation and Divorce – A Separation Agreement that defines marital separation is different from a divorce in that you are still married to each other. That seems a bit obvious, but it means that you still have legal obligations to each other. You also still have legal claims against each other. Whether you live together or not, you are still married. A marriage Separation Agreement, giving you a legal separation in New York State, defines certain aspects of your relationship while you are separated legally. It may lay out custody and parenting arrangements, including legal and residential custody agreements. You can also include visitation, schedules and co-parenting rules as part of your separation Suffolk County or Nassau agreement. Standard child support and spousal maintenance amounts can also be included in the agreement.
Often couples want to define who pays for what and who gets what. There may be specific issues they want to deal with or it may be every parenting and financial aspect of the marriage — on the way to getting ready for a possible future divorce. These financial aspects include how to deal with the house – selling it, maintaining it as is, or one person buying the other out. Other financial issues include mortgages, pensions, cars, insurance, stock portfolios, bank accounts, other assets and debts. You may want to not be liable for your spouse’s debts — that is often the reason for a Separation Agreement. The agreement specifies that each of you is no longer responsible for the other’s debt.
Sometimes a couple seeks a separation because they just need a little space from each other. They want to live separately but one or both are hoping that the marriage can be repaired. The couple wants an agreement in order to define what that relationship will be while they are apart from each other. Often this couple goes to marital therapy to see if they can repair the relationship before deciding to get back together or to get a divorce. (In our experience at the Long Island Center for Divorce Mediation, such trial separations more usually end in divorce than in reconciliation.)
Times have changed on Long Island and in NY State in general. A Separation Agreement for marital separation used to be the grounds for divorce. You needed to live more than one year separate and apart and carry out all the obligations required by the agreement. Then, after that year, the living apart could serve as the grounds for divorce. Since we now have what is effectively no fault divorce in New York that is no longer necessary. Couples no longer need to live in separation Long Island to get a divorce. Either spouse can seek to end the marriage based on irretrievable breakdown in relationship for a period of at least 6 months. This basically means that we have no-fault divorce in New York State. Neither spouse can block the other from getting a divorce.
What is Your Goal in Seeking a Legal Separation Agreement?
The real question in preparing a Separation Agreement is — what is your goal? What are you trying to accomplish? You may be seeking to settle all matters between you, so that if you do divorce, the mediated Separation Agreement has covered everything. Just file the divorce papers — it is all already worked out. Or, you may simply be seeking to establish some ground rules concerning things like money or parenting time, whether living together or apart. In that case a Post-Nuptial Agreement might be what you actually need. A Post-Nuptial Agreement deals with a limited number of issues, and is usually for a couple who will continue to actually live in the same residence.
As you can see, there are many different approaches and uses for a Separation Agreement in the context of separation Long Island and divorce. We at the Long Island Divorce Mediation Center are specialists in both mediated divorces and separations. We lead you through mediation of all separation or divorce issues. Then our divorce mediator attorney, Fred Klarer, does all the necessary paperwork. Give us a call to find out more.