Some couples don’t want to commit to a full divorce, even when their relationship is struggling. They could still be emotionally invested, hoping to fix their issues over time. Perhaps there are cultural or religious reasons for them to stay married. There may also be legal benefits to keeping the marriage going.
Even so, they know something needs to change, and they need time apart. For these couples, we recommend a legal separation. In this agreement, the couple typically lives apart as singles. They are still, however, legally married.
New York is among the many states that recognize legal separation. To separate, a couple must create a separation agreement and submit it to the court.
Your separation can include virtually anything pertaining to the relationship. Here are some examples of items you can put in your agreement.
Even though you are still married, it’s helpful to put a direct custody plan into your agreement. This way, you can avoid future conflict and confusion. Your plan is in writing, and each parent knows exactly what to expect. Your custody agreement can be as broad or specific as necessary
Spousal and Child Support
When a couple separates, it is assumed that they won’t be living together. This could leave one spouse in a financial bind. To avoid this, you should consider including spousal support in your agreement.
Your support plan needn’t be as detailed as it would be in a divorce. It could be as broad as making sure one partner pays the other’s rent. For some couples, however, rigid specifics may be necessary. For instance, you can create a specific allowance for groceries, entertainment, and so on.
The same is true for any child support agreements you create. Just like your custody arrangements, it’s better to specifically put this plan in writing to avoid complications later.
It may not be enough for one partner to simply move out. Legally, both parties can be more protected if you include specifics of your living arrangement into your plan.
Your plan can be broad, simply stating that one spouse will live in Location A, and the other will reside in Location B. It could also include more granular details. For instance, the plan may allow one spouse access to the main residence on certain occasions for specified amounts of time. You can craft your plan to meet your needs.
Getting Help from an Attorney
It’s important to get legal help when creating your separation agreement. Any slight miswording can lead to loopholes or misinterpretations. A vengeful spouse could use these mistakes to their advantage.
You should let a lawyer double-check your plan for these errors. They can help make sure your plan is sound, covers everything, and cannot be wrongly manipulated.
If you need help creating the plan, you can also attend mediation. In this process, a legal professional acts as a neutral third party, and they help you negotiate the terms of your separation agreement.
If you need guidance on your separation, reach out to our firm for help. We can help you craft a fair plan that benefits both spouses. For a free consultation, schedule time with us online, or call us at (516) 514-3868.