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Divorce vs. Legal Separation in New York

When you and your spouse decide you no longer wish to live together as husband and wife, you may file for a divorce or a legal separation. The main difference between the two options is that a legal separation does not dissolve the marriage legally and you cannot remarry until after you are divorced.

There are benefits of a legal separation that appeal to those with religious prohibitions against divorce, in situations where health insurance is a major issue, and those uncertain about their future relationship.

  • It allows couples time apart to decide if divorce is what they really want.
  • Because your marital status is maintained, so are certain benefits such as health insurance.
  • If you do decide to get a divorce after one year, a legal separation can be used as grounds for divorce, and your legal separation agreement can form the basis of your divorce settlement agreement.

If you intend to be legally separated in New York, it is important that you and your spouse draw up a separation agreement. This contract details the respective rights and duties of husband and wife and addresses such issues as child custody, support payments, basic living arrangements, distribution of property and all other matters pertaining to the separation —in other words, all the same issues that must be resolved in a divorce. Since separation agreements often set the precedent for the terms of the divorce, it is crucial that a contract that is fair, legally binding, and agreeable to both parties is drawn up.

Meeting with an attorney on Long Island who has experience handling separations and divorces is the best way to start moving forward. Contact a New York divorce attorney today for a consultation.

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