In New York, a separation agreement is a detailed and binding contract between a husband and wife that should be prepared by attorneys. In this agreement, the spouses agree to live separate and apart.
The agreement should contain the respective rights and duties of the husband and wife with respect to the custody of their children, their visitation rights, their child support obligations, their spousal maintenance obligations, the distribution of their personal and real property, the division of their pensions and retirement savings, and all other matters pertaining to their marital relationship.
The separation agreement may ultimately be incorporated without merger into a Judgment of Divorce. The burden of modifying the terms of a separation agreement is harsh. A party should have the benefit of the advice of competent legal counsel before signing such an agreement.
If the agreement is not drafted correctly, the obligations set forth therein may not be enforceable. The agreement may bind the parties to the terms contained in the agreement even if one of the parties changes its mind later on. The parties should have their attorneys review the agreement and explain the terms and ramifications before the parties sign the agreement.
A separation agreement should address all of the issues that would be addressed in a divorce, such as child custody and visitation, child support payments, spousal maintenance, property division, division of debts, health insurance, disposition of the marital home, pension plans, tax issues, and future dispute settlement.
Therefore, it is imperative that the parties have competent legal advice and effective representation in the negotiation and of execution of a separation agreement.
If you would like to schedule a confidential consultation with Ms. Arquette or Ms. Buckley, contact our office for a confidential consultation to answer your questions.