Separation agreements are official documents that set forth the terms of child custody, spousal support, and the division of assets and debt between you and your spouse. When a divorce is finalized, the Agreement is frequently submitted to the court.
Our lawyers understand how important it is to achieve as many of your present and future life goals as possible. Our Binghamton divorce lawyers pay close attention to every detail while drafting these agreements and evaluate everything, including the agreement’s tax implications and your future financial needs.
Experienced Legal Separation Attorneys in Binghamton
Decisions about separation and divorce are never simple. Any decision involving significant life changes should be carefully considered and prepared.
In New York, a separation agreement is voluntary but legally binding. The married parties decide on financial issues, spousal support, custodial rights and conditions, property allocation, and other key legal issues in the settlement agreement. This is typically pursued if the couple is considering divorce. It’s also worth noting that they won’t be enforced unless both spouses agree to them.
Our Syracuse separation attorneys are here to assist you in that process to make sure there is minimal conflict and that your legal rights are being respected. With countless years of collective family law experience throughout our firm, Tully Rinckey brings both the dedication and experience necessary to your situation in seeking a legal separation.
How Long Must I be Separated from My Spouse Before I Can File for Divorce?
New York divorce law recognizes both fault-based and no-fault divorce grounds. You may petition for a no-fault divorce in New York if you and your spouse have been living apart for at least a year or there has been an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” for at least six months. A couple may also petition for divorce after being separated for at least a year and signing a separation agreement.
Alternatively, you or your spouse could apply for divorce based on fault. In a divorce when fault is assigned, one spouse must prove that the other was to blame for the breakdown of the marriage. In New York, the following grounds for establishing fault are recognized:
abandonment for one year or longer;
imprisonment for three years or longer, and
cruelty, including mental or physical abuse.
How Long Does It Take to Put a Marriage Separation Agreement in Place?
While there is no formal time limit for establishing separation agreements, they are generally lengthy and complex processes that are exacerbated by each spouse’s unfamiliarity with New York State separation laws. You and your spouse—or attorneys—must come to these arrangements. The courts will not construct the agreements for you; they must be agreed upon and notarized before they can be implemented.
How Does a Separation Affect Our Income Tax Status?
Depending on when your divorce or legal separation was declared by the court, separations may have an impact on your tax situation. The IRS will still consider you to be married even though your split had not been amicably resolved as of December 31 of that tax year. Similarly, if your divorce was finalized on December 31, you are considered unmarried for the whole year and are exempt from filing a marriage return.
Unless a court ruling says that you are divorced or lawfully separated, you are considered to be still married for tax purposes. You are no longer legally married if you are legally separated on December 31—not merely living apart. The finer points of this distinction, as well as many other laws that apply to divorced or separated taxpayers, are explained in IRS Publication 504.
Can I Date if I Am Separated from My Spouse?
While being divorced or separated from your spouse does not restrict you from dating, there are a few financial factors you should take into account. Many people who go through divorce form long-term relationships but never marry. If you are in a committed relationship, it may have an effect on your eligibility for spousal support.
Cohabitation and casual dating are not the same things. Just because you start seeing someone else after your divorce doesn’t imply your spousal support will end. If a casual connection becomes more serious, the court will consider a number of issues before deciding whether or not payments should be stopped. This can include factors such as how forthcoming they are about their new relationship and even how they refer to themselves in it; whether they have joint assets; how much they contribute to living expenses; how long they have been living together (if at all); and how long the relationship has lasted, to list a few.
After you answer these questions, the court may determine that you and your significant other are cohabiting and in a relationship similar to marriage. In this case, the judge has the authority to halt your spousal support payments.
Do I Need an Attorney for my Legal Separation?
There is no legal requirement that you hire a family law attorney to divorce or form a separation agreement. However, it should be noted that these agreements, like divorce settlements, are legally binding and can be enforced by the courts.
When you sign a contract, it should be written with your needs in mind, and you should be informed of how it can affect things like child support and custody for you. Our attorneys have worked in numerous of New York’s Family Courts and have helped families with their unique family law issues. You may be confident that when you retain our services, we have dealt with situations just like yours and can provide you with the direction you need to achieve your goals.
No matter your situation, the respectful, knowledgeable, and experienced attorneys at Tully Rinckey will handle your case with the care and attention it deserves. We protect your rights and fight to help you achieve the legal outcomes you desire. Let us represent you today.
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