What is a NY Separation Agreement?

New York separation agreement is an agreement that both you and your spouse enter into to obtain a legal separation.

Basically, a separation agreement details the rights and responsibilities of both you and your spouse while you live separate and apart lives for a period of time.

A separation agreement works like this — if you and your spouse are having marital difficulties you can (without court intervention) retain counsel and draft a separation agreement.

Scope of Separation Agreements

Many people don’t understand separation agreements and what their purpose is.  Often people think “If I move out, then I’m separated, right?”  Well, yes, you’re physically apart but still married.

That means that any assets you acquire are still subject to equitable distribution and any debts that your spouse incurs are your responsibility as well. Nice, huh?

Separation agreements deal with issues such as:

  • child support, custody, visitation
  • spousal support (aka maintenance or alimony)
  • who gets the house
  • where you each will reside
  • division of property issues (marital assets and liabilities) and
  • many other provisions that may be unique to your situation as long as they’re not prohibited by law

Generally, one spouse then moves out and establishes a separate residence after the execution of the agreement.

This is a requirement if you wish to convert your separation agreement into a divorce.

New York Conversion Divorce

If you want to convert your separation agreement into a divorce (aka a conversion divorce), there are certain requirements that must be met.

  • you must live “separate and apart” from your spouse, which means you can NOT reside in the same place
  • you must file the separation agreement in the County in which you reside
  • you must purchase an index number that is associated with your separation agreement and can later be used in your conversion divorce

After living separate and apart for one year you and your spouse can file for a conversion divorce under the terms of the separation agreement.

Is a Separation Required Prior to a Divorce in New York?

Although a separation agreement is required for a conversion divorce, a separation agreement is NOT required to get a divorce.  Now you can get a no-fault divorce in New York which does NOT require any separation period.

It’s truly amazing how much garbage there is out there on the internet.  Unfortunately a lot of people read old information about New York divorce laws and believe that they have to be separated for a year before they can get divorced.  Again, this is NOT true.

Do You Need a Lawyer for a Separation Agreement?

Short answer – YES!

Its important to stress that we highly recommended that you NOT try to draft your separation agreement on your own.  If you make a mistake your entire agreement will usually be rendered void and not legally binding.

We recommend that you hire an experienced New York separation agreement lawyer to draft your agreement so that you can be sure that your rights are protected, giving you peace of mind.

For a free separation agreement consultation, please call our law firm at (866) 830-2064