If a couple decides to separate, whether as a trial separation or a legal status short of divorce, it is often helpful to establish clear terms about property and finances during this period. This can help minimize misunderstandings and conflict. It can also make the process of a legal divorce much less stressful.
Creating a separation agreement allows spouses to work out their arrangements in advance of the legal process and can save them some time and money. However, even if spouses agree on the terms of the agreement, it is important to have a lawyer review it before signing. This helps ensure that the terms of the agreement comply with New York law and are legally binding. It also can protect the interests of both parties in case one party later tries to have the agreement changed or overturned.
Separation agreements usually include provisions that divide assets and debts, determine who lives in the marital home, provide schedules for child custody and visitation, and establish spousal support. They may also address other issues important to the parties during this time, including how the separation will be resolved and whether either spouse will remain eligible for certain benefits only available to married couples such as Social Security, tax deductions and family health insurance policies.
A separation agreement, unless it specifically states that it is being incorporated into a divorce judgment, can be enforced through a lawsuit for breach of contract. The court can award money damages and an order directing the spouse to perform the promises of the contract, similar to what would be available in a lawsuit for breach of a divorce judgment. separation agreements