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Considering Divorce vs. Separation 

In New York, married couples have the option to divorce or become legally separated. With a focus on family law and divorce, attorneys David L. Martin, Esq. and Sofiya Shoaib, Esq. can help you understand the differences between divorce vs. separation at our Nassau County , NY, and Queens, NY, offices pertaining to your specific circumstances.

About Legal Separation

With a legal separation, the couple is still legally married but lives apart. Legal separation sets out the rights and responsibilities of each spouse for issues such as child support, child custody, visitation rights, spousal support, and the distribution of assets and liabilities. It is highly advisable that any couple considering legal separation get legal assistance in completing a separation agreement.

The separation can either be through a written agreement or by going to court for a judgment of separation. If the separation is by written agreement, it must be voluntary and signed by both parties in front of a notary. It is mandatory that the signed separation agreement be filed with the county clerk. Since going to court can be as expensive as a divorce, most couples choose to sign a separation agreement. If the parties have substantially abided by the terms for one year, either party may then file for uncontested divorce based on the separation agreement.

It is highly advisable that any couple considering legal separation get legal assistance in completing a separation agreement.

Benefits of Legal Separation Rather Than Divorce

With a legal separation, the parties can figure out if they really want to end their relationship. The separation simulates divorce without the couple actually being divorced. If the couple does decide to divorce later, much of the groundwork has already been done through the legal separation. Often, the terms of the separation agreement can be carried over to the divorce proceedings.

Close-up of a man signing a document with wedding band visibly offSince the parties are still legally married during a legal separation, health insurance coverage will continue for each. If one spouse has a serious health condition, the couple may opt to legally separate so that the unhealthy spouse can retain health insurance coverage at a reasonable cost.

Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act and to collect death benefits, the spouses must have been married for at least ten years to be entitled to benefits.

Some couples may opt to legally separate for religious reasons. Although they do not want to continue in a relationship, a divorce may affect their standing in their religious community. Other couples enjoy the tax benefits of being married but do not want to remain in a relationship. For these couples, a legal separation may be the solution.

When Is Legal Separation Not Advisable

If a couple cannot cooperate with each other, or if one spouse exercises control over the other spouse, it is not advisable for them to try to enter into a separation agreement. Any effort to do so would either be a waste of time, or would not be beneficial for the weaker spouse.

If one of the spouses is contemplating marriage in the not-to-distant future, getting legally separated may not be advisable. In this case, getting a divorce may be a quicker solution.

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For additional information regarding the benefits of a legal separation vs. divorce, contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. We can offer sound advice and guidance with this important decision.

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