It can be difficult to understand, but when a couple realizes that they can no longer move forward as a married couple, they do not necessarily have to get a divorce. A good divorce attorney in New York, in fact, may strongly advise the couple to pursue a legal separation in New York instead of a formal divorce, for a variety of reasons.
A legal separation is an agreement between spouses dividing their lives in most ways. It can be mediated or negotiated between lawyers, or drawn up on their own. It covers all the aspects of separating lives that is covered in a divorce decree, including
- Custody and visitation
- Support and maintenance
When the separation agreement is approved by the court it can feel very similar to a divorce in the day-to-day living.
Not a Divorce
However, a legal separation differs from a divorce in one important way: You remain legally married. This has many benefits, including retaining the tax and other financial benefits of being married, being able to enjoy shared healthcare coverage, and other financial and legal considerations.
Perhaps most importantly, however, a legal separation is often a way for a couple to experience life apart prior to a divorce. It can be a “cooling off” period, or it can simply show them how their separation agreement will work in practice, allowing them to make adjustments when time comes for a more permanent solution. This way, if arrangements that worked “on paper” regarding custody or living arrangements do not work the way they were intended, changes can be made when the time comes to work out a final separation document that definitively ends the marriage.