What is a Separation Agreement?

Separation agreements do not require the intervention of a court. Under such an agreement, you and your spouse could make formal decisions on issues such as spousal support, who remains in the family home, property and debt division, and—to a certain extent—child custody and support.

However, no agreement may permit a spouse to avoid their child support obligations. Each couple must make a full and complete financial disclosure, and any hiding of assets may result in the court voiding your separation agreement.

One of the advantages of a separation agreement is that a couple can tailor it, within the law, to their personal circumstances. For example, if one spouse is covered under the other’s health insurance policy, the separation agreement may state that the policy must continue to cover both the policy owner and the separated spouse, along with any children.

Separation Agreement Enforcement

If one spouse does not abide by the separation agreement, that person has broken a legal contract. Since separation agreements are enforceable in Syracuse courts, the spouse who disregarded the separation agreement may prove liable to a financial judgement depending on the situation.

However, divorce judgements are generally easier to enforce than separation agreements. This is something to keep in mind if you are wavering about the idea of separation versus divorce or concerned that your spouse may ignore the terms of an agreement.

Divorce Conversion and Reconciliation

If you and your legally separated spouse do ultimately decide to divorce, your separation agreement can form the basis for a so-called “conversion divorce.” New York Domestic Relations Law §170.5 allows a couple to file for divorce if they live apart due to a properly executed legal separation for at least one year. That being said, a conversion divorce is not automatic, and even if it is uncontested and based on the conversion of a properly executed written separation agreement, an action for divorce must be taken by one spouse against the other.

Sometimes, though, couples just need breathing room to work out their problems. If you and your spouse do want to work on reconciliation, your separation agreement can address that possibility. This may involve wording on how the separation agreement could be voided if you both decide to actively resume your marriage.

Work with a Syracuse Matrimonial Attorney Today

A valid separation agreement in Syracuse must have specific language and correct titling to prove legally enforceable. Specifically, it must stand up to the scrutiny of a judge in a New York State court, who may be naturally concerned that one spouse has taken advantage of the other.

For this reason, it may be essential for you to retain an attorney specializing in such agreements who could help put together a solid, enforceable document for you. A good separation agreement should protect not only your interests at the time of separation but also your interests in the future as well.

If you are considering separation, a Syracuse matrimonial attorney may be able to help. Call us today at (315) 492-4700 or email at info@tullylegal.com to set up an initial meeting and discuss your options.

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