There are many reasons a couple may choose to live apart even though they are still married. If this is the case, it is often wise to get a legal separation. When you separate, it’s necessary to agree on a number of things that are similar to those you must agree upon for divorce. For example there are child custody matters, visitation and child support. You can also agree to a division of your assets, although you don’t have to do so. Spousal maintenance is another issue that can be in your separation agreement if it’s appropriate. But be aware that if you do get a divorce, the judge will consider the agreement you made when you separated. In other words, there are pitfalls in separating that may not be immediately apparent. That’s why it’s wise to consult with a good Bronx separation lawyer rather than filing a separation agreement on your own.Grounds for Legal Separation in New York State
When people get a legal separation, they can agree to key issues and have their attorneys draw up an agreement which they will sign and notarize and file in the Bronx clerk’s office. After a year, your Bronx separation attorney can file a petition for a no-fault divorce
If they do not agree on key issues, or if one of the parties does not want to separate, one of the spouses can sue the other in court for a legal separation. Similar to divorce, people need grounds to sue for a legal separation. Such grounds include abandonment, cruel and unusual treatment, adultery, refusal to provide support and imprisonment of the defending spouse for three years or more during the marriage.Why Legally Separate?
You could live separately from your spouse without a legal separation, but there are reasons for filing for a legal separation.
- Want to try it apart: Many people don’t jump right into divorce. Divorce is difficult, and the couple may still have strong feelings for each other or are concerned about their children. So they do a “trial separation.” Sometimes people feel they need the space to decide what to do about the relationship. Working together on a separation agreement can also seem less stressful than trying to agree on the same issues when people move directly to divorce, even though much of what is agreed to in the separation agreement will carry through to the divorce should the couple decide to make their break-up permanent.
- Concerns about spouse’s spending. When you are married and living together, you may have liability for debts your spouse incurs. So if your spouse is a big spender or is about to take a financial risk, it’s better to get a legal separation than wait if you are considering splitting up.
- Health insurance and other benefits. Losing health insurance in the United States can be catastrophic for some people, and expensive for others. In addition to fear of losing health insurance, people are concerned with social security and military benefits.
- Religious concerns. Couples sometimes separate, because their religion bans divorce but not separation. Legal separation offers some of the benefits and protections of divorce such as court-sanctioned child custody, child visitation and child support.
There are some requirements for residency if you would like to file for separation in New York. Sit down with your attorney at their Bronx office to discuss separation grounds. Your circumstances must match one of these:
- You both live in New York
- One of you lives in New York at the time of filing the separation, and has lived here for at least two years
- You were married in New York, and one still lives here and has lived here at least one year
- You both used to live in New York and one of you still lives here and had for at least a year
- One of you has lived in New York for a year and the grounds legal separation occurred in New York
If you are considering legal separation, contact an experienced separation attorney here in the Bronx to be sure all your rights are protected. The attorneys at the Law Officers of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience successfully representing clients in the New York Supreme Court and New York Family Court with issues related to separation, dissolution of marriage, child custody, child support and spousal support. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with a separation attorney in the Bronx regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.