The Requirements to File for Legal Separation in New York

Couple getting separated

Separation Agreement NY

When couples are unsure if a divorce is the right solution, they might consider a legal separation, which allows spouses the opportunity to work out their marital problems while living apart. Debts and assets would be divided, and custody would need to be established, but they would continue to remain married. Legally separating also protects spouses from and future debt the other incurs. However, while legally separated, spouses cannot remarry.

Requirements for Filing for Legal Separation in NY

Below are the requirements for filing for legal separation in NY:

Residency Requirements

Before you are able to move forward with your legal separation, you must meet the state’s residency requirements. There are few ways to meet this requirement:

  • The grounds for separation occurred in the state and one or both spouses was a New York resident for at least a year prior to filing.
  • One or both spouses was a New York resident for at least two years prior to filing.
  • The spouses lived in New York as a married couple and either party was a New York resident for at least a year when the filing occurs.
  • The spouses were wed in the state, one or both was a New York resident and living in the state for at least a year prior to the filing.

Select the Right Courthouse

You will have to choose the proper court that is within the jurisdiction over the county in which both you and your spouse live or mutually agree to if you live in different counties.

Draft a Separation Agreement

For separation agreements, there are no forms. Instead, these agreements are generally drafted in the same manner as other contracts between parties and are legally binding when signed by both spouses and notarized. A separation agreement can be enforced if the terms are violated by either spouse.

Sign the Final Agreement

It is important that you review your final separation agreement prior to signing it before a notary. Make sure that you personally deliver the original agreement and two copies to the Clerk of Court, file it, and keep one of the copies for yourself and the other for your spouse.

After a year, if you and your spouse decide that you cannot repair the marriage, you or your spouse can file for a divorce based on your separation agreement. It is known as a conversion divorce and, using this method, no grounds based on default or legal reasons to grant a divorce are necessary.

Conversion Divorce in New York

In the event that your separation agreement is not enough and you want to officially terminate your marriage, you can file for a conversion divorce.

However, certain requirements must be met in order for a conversion divorce to happen:

  • The separation agreement must be filed in the county where you reside.
  • Your spouse and you must live separately for one year
  • You must have an index number associated with your separation agreement

What Is a Conversion Divorce Index Number & Should I Purchase One?

In order to convert your separation agreement into a divorce, you will need to purchase an index number. This index number is a number associated with your case and is listed on all papers filed. You purchase an index number at the County Clerk's office.   

Ready to Help You File for Separation

If you and your spouse are unsure about a divorce, but wish to live apart, a legal separation might be appropriate for you. At DePrima Law, our skilled legal separation attorney in Buffalo has over 13 years of experience in family law and can assist you throughout this process to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. Do not try to navigate this complex area of law on your own. Reach out to our firm today!

Contact us at (716) 638-2633 to schedule an initial consultation with our knowledgeable divorce attorney.

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