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. The agreement is commonly presented to the court when a divorce is finalized.
Our lawyers understand how important it is to achieve as many of your present and future life goals as possible. Our Buffalo 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.
Making decisions about separation and divorce is never simple. Any choice that will significantly alter your life should be carefully considered and planned.
In New York, a separation agreement is voluntary but enforceable. The parties decide on financial issues, spousal support, custody arrangements, property division, and other key legal issues in the settlement agreement. This is typically pursued if the couple is considering divorce. It’s also crucial to remember that they won’t take effect unless both spouses accept the conditions.
Our Buffalo 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?
Both fault-based and no-fault divorce grounds are recognized by New York divorce law. If you and your spouse have been separated for at least a year or there has been an “irretrievable collapse of the marriage” for at least six months, you may file for a no-fault divorce in New York. After signing a separation agreement and separating for at least a year, a couple may also file for divorce.
Alternatively, you or your spouse might file for divorce on the basis of fault. In a fault-based divorce, one spouse must establish that the other spouse was at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. The following grounds for finding fault are recognized in New York:
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 official time limit for establishing separation agreements, they are typically lengthy and complex processes that are aggravated by each spouse’s unfamiliarity with New York State separation laws. These agreements must be drafted by you and your spouse, or by attorneys. The courts will not draft the agreements for you; they must be agreed upon and notarized before they are implemented.
How Does a Separation Affect Our Income Tax Status?
Separations might affect your tax position depending on when your divorce/legal separation was declared by the court. If your split was not final as of December 31 of that tax year, the IRS will still regard you as married. Similarly, if your divorce was finalized on December 31, you are considered unmarried for the whole year and are not required to file a marital return.
According to the tax rules, you are still married unless a court order specifies that you are divorced or legally separated. If you are separated by a court order on Dec. 31, not just living apart on your own terms, you’re no longer married. 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 nothing prevents you from dating while you are divorced or separated from your husband, there are several financial considerations you should make. Many people who go through divorce develop lasting relationships but never get married. Your eligibility for spousal support may be impacted if you are in a committed relationship.
There is a difference between cohabiting and casual dating. After your divorce, just because you start dating someone else doesn’t mean your spousal support will stop. The court will weigh a number of factors before deciding whether or not payments should be terminated if a casual relationship turns more serious. This can range from how open they are with the new relationship and even how they refer to themselves in that relationship; if they have shared assets; their contributions to household expenses; how long they have lived together (if at all); and how long the relationship has lasted, to name 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 retain the services of a family law professional in order to separate or establish a separation agreement. It’s important to note, though, that these agreements, like divorce settlements, are legally binding and can be enforced by the courts.
When you enter into an agreement, it should be drafted with your needs in mind, and you should be aware of how it impacts you in terms of custody and child support. Our attorneys have assisted families with their specific family law matters and have practiced in many of New York’s Family Courts. When you retain our services, you can rest assured that we have seen cases similar to yours and can give you the guidance needed to realize 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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