Staten Island Divorce and Separation Law
Divorce can be a challenging and difficult experience, both emotionally and financially. It can be especially difficult if you and your spouse have been together for a long time and have built a life together. The process of ending a marriage can be stressful and can bring up a range of emotions, including sadness, anger, and fear.
Additionally, the process of dividing assets and determining custody arrangements can be complicated and can cause conflict between spouses. If you have children, the divorce process can be particularly challenging as you work to come to an agreement about their care and custody.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience with divorce is different. It’s common to feel overwhelmed and emotional during this time but know that you do not need to navigate the divorce or separation process alone.
At Erin Colgan Law, our practice is dedicated to helping those divorcing in Staten Island to resolve their family legal matters. We have extensive experience in mediation, divorce, and family law cases, meaning we have the knowledge and resources to help you through this challenging time, and an ability to accommodate the type of divorce that best suits your situation and goals. We help you to formulate a divorce strategy to protect your interests, preserve marital assets, and help you to navigate the right path to end your marriage in the most efficient and least unpleasant way. Our holistic approach includes integrated support to connect you with local professionals to help you begin your new life chapter.
Are you considering divorce or separation? Let the Staten Island team at Erin Colgan Law help you to understand the legal process and your options. For a confidential consultation, call our Staten Island office today at 718-981-5505.
Divorce vs. Separation
The terms “divorce” and “separation” are often used interchangeably. However, in legal terms, divorce and separation are two distinct concepts. Divorce is a legal process that dissolves a marriage. Assets and property are divided between spouses, and if children are involved, custody arrangements are made. When a divorce is final, one regains one’s status as a single individual.
Separation is different. A legal separation does not dissolve a marriage. Separation only creates space between partners. You and your spouse can live separately, maintain separate lives, and date other individuals. However, technically, you and your spouse still maintain a legal partnership and cannot legally marry another individual. Couples wishing to separate must agree on a detailed separation agreement. A separation agreement is a legal document outlining where each party will live, whether there are support payments, and custody arrangements.
Why Choose Separation?
In New York, couples can legally separate rather than getting a divorce. Legal separation may sometimes involve obtaining a court order that spells out the terms of the separation, such as the division of assets and liabilities, and custody and support arrangements for any children. This is called a Judgment of Separation. Other couples may wish to enter into a Separation Agreement and move to convert it to a divorce after a one-year period.
To obtain a legal separation in New York, one spouse may file a separation agreement with the court and serve it on the other spouse. The separation agreement must be signed by both spouses and must be notarized.
If the parties wish to convert a separation to a divorce, the separation agreement is filed with the court and a judge will review it to ensure that it is fair and reasonable. If the judge approves the agreement, it will be incorporated into a court order and will in effect be part of the divorce decree.
Couples who are legally separated are still considered to be married, but they are no longer required to live together and are free to live separate lives. They may also be able to get certain benefits, such as Social Security and health insurance, that are not available to unmarried individuals. The parties may even be permitted to remain on their spouse’s health insurance until they are divorced.
It’s important to note that legal separation is not the same as physical separation, which occurs when a couple stops living together but is not legally recognized by the state. A “trial separation” is informal and there are no guarantees or protections that the other party will “do the right thing” as far as financial obligations, parenting, etc. Also, you run the risk of unintentionally having assets included for division later during a divorce due to the lack of formality of the agreement to end the marriage. This vague informal arrangement can be detrimental if it is prolonged. Parties informally separated should get legal advice as to any potential risks of not filing for the divorce. Couples who are physically separated are not eligible for the legal protections and benefits of legal separation.
There are several reasons a couple may choose to separate instead of file for divorce. Relationships are complicated. Sometimes it takes time away from one another to sort through emotions and decide what you want your life to look like moving forward. Separation is often a precursor to divorce, but it can also help give couples the time and space they need to seek therapy, work through their conflicts, and eventually reconcile, if that is ultimately what they decide.
Grounds for Divorce in Staten Island
Sometimes it is clear that a marriage is not working. When that is the case, divorce may be the best option. New York divorce laws recognize fault and no-fault grounds for divorce.
What Is a No-Fault Divorce?
New York was one of the last states to allow no fault-divorces, which means that either spouse can file for divorce without having to prove that the other spouse did something wrong. As of 2010, the state allows couples to end their marriage without having to go through the time, expense, and emotional stress of litigating fault-based grounds for divorce.
The benefits of a no-fault divorce include:
- It allows couples to end their marriage without having to prove fault or blame.
- It can help to reduce conflict and acrimony between spouses by removing the need to assign blame.
- It allows couples to move on with their lives more quickly and with less stress.
- It can be less expensive and time-consuming than fault-based divorce.
- It allows couples to maintain some privacy, as they do not have to publicly disclose the reasons for the breakdown of their marriage.
It’s important to note that no-fault divorce does not eliminate the need for spouses to address issues such as the division of assets and liabilities and custody and support arrangements for any children. These issues will still need to be resolved through negotiation, mediation, or, if necessary, through the court process.
What is a Fault-Based Divorce?
New York still recognizes fault-based divorces, meaning one spouse could prove that the other spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. The state of New York recognizes the following reasons for seeking a fault-based divorce:
- Abandonment for at least one year
- Incarceration for three or more years
- Legal separation for more than a year
One potential benefit of a fault-based divorce is that it may allow the spouse who was not at fault to obtain a larger share of the assets or a higher level of spousal support. In some states, the spouse who was at fault may also be required to pay legal fees or other costs associated with the divorce.
What Are the Criteria For Divorce In New York?
No matter which type of divorce you want to pursue, there are criteria you must meet before you can file for divorce in New York, including:
- You must have been married in New York, and one spouse has lived in the state for at least one year
- You lived in New York as a married couple, and either spouse has lived in the state for at least one year
- The grounds for divorce arose in New York, and you or your spouse have lived in the state for at least one year
- You or your spouse have lived in the state for at least two years
Do You Need an Attorney to Handle Your Staten Island Divorce or Separation?
Filing for divorce or separation is an immensely personal decision. You likely feel vulnerable during this emotionally overwhelming time. Although you might think you can navigate the process alone, filing for divorce can be complicated and time-consuming. You need a skilled Staten Island divorce attorney to help you sort through your legal options and protect your rights. Many couples in Staten Island fear they cannot afford to divorce. After considering ownership of property, accrual of retirement benefits and the cost and expense of children, you should look at legal counsel as an investment needed to protect what you have worked hard for. Your children also deserve sufficient support and time with the other parent. An experienced attorney will help you accomplish this most effectively and at Erin Colgan Law, we will help work within your budget so that you get the divorce done right.
At Erin Colgan Law, we are committed to offering you our full attention and dedicated service. We understand how difficult divorce can be for you and your family. We aim to give you sound legal advice and compassionate support. We also want to help you achieve the most positive result possible.
Contact Staten Island’s Premier Divorce and Separation Attorney Today
Are you considering separation or divorce from your spouse, and wonder what your options are? Call our office today to set up a consultation to discuss your situation with Erin K. Colgan, Esq., Staten Island’s premier divorce attorney and certified mediator at 718-981-5505. Or, request a consultation using the below form.