There are many considerations that go into deciding when to get a divorce. For some, even when the marriage has come to an end, divorce may not be an immediate option for various reasons. Couples who do not want to stay together, but are not ready for a divorce, may find the solution is filing for a legal separation.
Why a Legal Separation?
Some of the reasons for avoiding divorce are religious, financial, or social. It may be that a couple’s religion does not allow divorce, or that one spouse needs to stay covered as a spouse under the other’s health insurance policy for a period of time. Other couples may remain married in order to reach a certain number of years of marriage and qualify for benefits. For example, one spouse can qualify for another spouse’s Social Security benefits after they have been married for 10 years.
A legal separation may be the better option for couples in these situations. A legal separation involves more than just one spouse moving out, and the couple living separately.
Requirements for a Legal Separation
In order to file for a legal separation in New York, there are certain residency requirements that must be met:
If both spouses reside in New York at the time of the separation filing, there is no residency time limit requirement
If only one spouse resides in New York at the time of the separation filing, the residency time limit requirement is two years.
If only one spouse resides in New York, but the couple was married in the state, the residency time limit requirement is one year.
If only one spouse resides in New York, but the couple once lived together in the state, the residency time limit requirement is one year.
What Is Included in a Legal Separation?
The same legal issues that are resolved in a divorce may be resolved in a legal separation. The court will usually determine child custody and visitation issues, child support, and alimony. In some cases, the court may also determine property and/or asset division if the couple requests.
In many cases, the agreements made by the couple and/or decisions made by the court are close to what a final divorce decree may be. A formal separation also helps protect the spouses from being held liable for marital debts during the period of separation. However, the couple is still considered legally married and neither spouse can remarry.
Contact a Rockland County Divorce Lawyer
If you are having marital issues but are not sure if a divorce or legal separation is the right choice for you, our office can help. Call Law Offices of Robert S. Lewis, P.C. at 845-358-7100 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our seasoned Hudson Valley Area divorce attorneys.