White Plains Attorney Drafts Separation Agreements

Agreement can pave the way for a no-fault divorce

In New York, if spouses live apart for at least one year under a written separation agreement, they can file for a no-fault divorce based upon living separate and apart for one year pursuant to terms of separation agreement. If spouses enter into a separation agreement, they also have the option of immediately filing for a no-fault divorce based upon "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage" for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.

A separation agreement also is appropriate for spouses who decide to go their separate ways, but for religious, cultural or other reasons, do not want a formal divorce. In either situation, Lauren B. Abramson, Esq. can help you create a separation agreement enforceable and addresses all the important issues.

What are the requirements for a separation agreement?

To be enforceable under New York law, a separation agreement must be:

  • In writing
  • Signed
  • Notarized

If you are becoming legally separated as a prelude to a no-fault divorce, it is important to keep in mind that the one-year separation period does not start running until the separation agreement is notarized. Any period of informal separation before that point does not count for the purposes of a no-fault divorce.

Although not required by law, it is advisable that each spouse be independently represented by separate counsel in the negotiation and drafting of the agreement. It also is wise to file the signed and notarized agreement with the county clerk.

Courts do not review or approve separation agreements, but if you ultimately do file for divorce based on separation, you can ask the divorce court to include the terms of the separation agreement in your final divorce order. This is called a “conversion divorce,” because the terms of the separation agreement are converted to the terms of the divorce.

Things to consider including in your separation agreement

While many states severely limit what can be in a separation agreement — particularly barring provisions relating to child custody and child support — New York, on the other hand, allows spouses to enter into a separation agreement that addresses all of the issues that would be involved in a divorce. New York separation agreements commonly address the following issues:

  • Division of assets
  • Division of debts
  • Release of any claims against a spouse’s estate
  • Child custody
  • Child visitation
  • Child support (must meet or exceed the payments called for by the Child Support Standards Act)
  • Alimony
  • Ownership and possession of the marital home
  • Requirement of a spouse to maintain life insurance for the benefit of the other spouse or their children
  • Procedure for voiding the separation agreement if the spouses reconcile
  • Procedure for modifying the agreement if either party experiences a substantial change in circumstances

Married same-sex couples are as free as opposite-sex couples to enter into separation agreements.

Contact a White Plains attorney about a separation agreement

Lauren B. Abramson, Esq. helps reduce the conflict involved in negotiating the terms of a separation agreement. We have served clients in Westchester County and beyond for more than 25 years. Our office hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and evening and weekend appointments are available. Call us at 914-908-6829 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.