The Legal Differences Between Separation and Divorce

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018, 11:35 pm

If you and your spouse have reached a point where you no longer wish to live together at the moment, but may attempt reconciliation, you may not want to get divorced. Instead, you can separate. Legally, these two options are very different from each other.

Separation Is Not Divorce

Just because you’re living apart doesn’t mean that you’re divorced. In fact, you’re legally considered to be married even though you’re not living together. However, because you’re legally separated, it’s not the same as simply deciding to live apart from one another for a period of time. A legal separation does create a binding agreement regarding finances, custody, and other arrangements. This means you will be legally required to follow the terms agreed to, rather than simply making a deal with your spouse and separating on your own.

Is It Required?

Some states do require couples to legally separate before the divorce, but New York is not one of those states. Couples here can divorce without any prior separation through both fault and no-fault divorce petitions. There are only two situations in New York that require a period of separation before divorce: filing for abandonment and filing to convert a separation agreement into a full divorce. In cases of abandonment, you’re asking the court to grant a divorce based on the fact that your spouse left you and has had no or little contact with you for a period of time.

Is the Process Different?

The process for getting legally separated and divorced is actually fairly similar. In both cases, judgment is made and recorded by the court. In both instances, you and your spouse will need to determine how assets and debts will be split, deal with child custody and support, and other factors. After a year, one of you can petition to convert the separation to a full divorce if you want, but you don’t have to. Couples may be legally separated for years.

Why Do It?

Why get legally separated instead of divorced? Some couples don’t want to divorce due to religious beliefs. Other times, it’s done to keep one person on the other’s insurance or to take advantage of various tax benefits.

If you want to know more about how a legal separation or a divorce would affect you, contact the practice of FK Law Group today.

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Category: Divorce Law


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