Legal Separation vs. Divorce in New York

An unhappy couple back-to-back in bed.

Many individuals are under the impression that when a marriage has become irretrievably broken, the two parties will go through divorce. While this is the most common option for dissolution, there are some alternatives that you may want to consider, especially if you are still considerably amicable with one another. One of the alternative options is to not dissolve the marriage at all. In this case, the two parties may decide to go through a legal separation. It is important to understand the differences between the two options and how you can benefit from each.

Legal Separation

When the two parties decide to no longer live together, they may want to consider a legal separation. This is a legal agreement that still consider the many aspects of a divorce — property division, alimony, maintenance, child custody, child support, visitation, etc. — but it allows some of the factors of the marriage to remain the same. For instance, if one of the spouses stayed at home during the marriage and relied on the other spouse’s health benefits, they would still be able to remain on the healthcare policy. It can also help with taxes of both parents. Religious prohibitions may also prevent some couples from divorcing.

Separation can still be a complex matter and it is beneficial to have legal counsel during the process. This makes sure that, even though you are amicable with your spouse, you are not taken advantage of by the other party’s legal counsel. Putting an attorney on your side ensures that everything that needs to be addressed in the agreement is taken care of and put together carefully. For many, the legal separation is beneficial, and the separated spouses may even decide to get back together instead of divorcing.


Legal separation often serves as a precursor to divorce. The couples typically live apart from each other for at least year. After the year, it can be considered grounds for divorce. With divorce, though, the two parties will go through the process and it may be difficult to deal with some of the contentious issues involved. You and your spouse may present your cases to the judge. This means determining who will have custody of the children — if applicable — who gets alimony or maintenance and how much, child support, who pays the marital debts, and what property goes to which spouse.

Based on a number of factors, the judge will take into consideration both cases and make a decision regarding the divorce. They will determine child custody based on the best interests of the children, and support payments based on the financial status of both parties, as well as the duration of the marriage and the way of life prior to the divorce. Having legal counsel during this time can prove beneficial as you can understand the process, know what to expect, and also have someone looking out for your best interests.

New York Divorce Attorney

A divorce can be complicated, especially when you consider all the factors involved and the potential for some situations to become contentious. At Eiges & Orgel, PLLC, our team of divorce lawyers in NYC can help you navigate this difficult time in your life. There is so much to consider and you don’t want to go into this unprepared, especially with so much at stake. Allow us to represent you in your divorce or legal separation, making sure your goals are our top priority.

Call our firm today. We focus on your needs, as well as the needs of your family.

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