What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce in NY? Which one should they choose?

In general, the differences between the two are as follows:

1. Legal Separation: is typically only a signed separation agreement between the spouses. There is no requirement that a court is actually involved. It is recommended that the agreement be recorded with the County Clerk’s office. There is currently a filing fee of $5.00 to do so.

2. Divorce: There has to be lawsuit initiated and the divorce has to be Ordered by a Judge. There are at a minimum, about 65 pages that need to be filed with the court. There are currently filing fees of approximately $350.00. The time frame can be as fast as a month, several months or even span over years.

3. Divorce: before the court can order a divorce, there has to be legal grounds (legal reasons) for the divorce to be Ordered. This article discusses some of the legal grounds: LEGAL GROUNDS

4. Health insurance: in a legal separation, both parties can be on the same health insurance policy. After a divorce, the parties will need their own health insurance or a cobra plan.

What does a legal separation and a divorce have in common?

1. A legal separation and a divorce should both resolve all issues relating to: custody, child support, spousal maintenance, equitable distribution. Click on CHILD CUSTODY, CHILD SUPPORT, SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE, EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION for additional information.

Which is right for me?

1. Legal Separation is recommended if you want to spend less money in legal and filing fees, stay under your spouse’s health insurance coverage and if you are not sure if you want a divorce because there is a chance that you will reconcile the relationship in the future.

2. Divorce is probably a better option if there is no hope in reconciling the relationship in the future.

We always offer a free consultation. At this consultation, there will be an actual price that is based on an estimate of the amount of legal time that would be involved in your specific divorce or legal separation matter.

New York Divorce Law is complicated so you should meet with an experienced divorce lawyer - even if you think your divorce will be easy or straightforward. The Underwood Law Firm is one of the few Syracuse Divorce Lawyers in the Syracuse area that offers free consultations on Divorce & Family Law so that everyone has an opportunity to speak with an experienced attorney about their case. The Underwood Law Firm has years of successful trial results* but we attempt to resolve disputes outside of the court system first, if possible.

The Underwood Law Firm handles all aspects of divorce and family law including adoption, child custody, child support, and separation cases in the following areas: Syracuse, Utica, Albany, Watertown, Oswego, Binghamton; Onondaga County and Madison County, including the towns, cities and villages of: Fayetteville, Manlius, DeWitt, Morrisville, Cicero, Liverpool, East Syracuse, Syracuse, Baldwinsville, Camillus, Clay, Fabius, Elbridge, Geddes, Jordan, Lafayette, Lysander, Marcellus, Minoa, North Syracuse, Otisco, Pompey, Salina, Skaneateles, Spafford, Tully, Van Buren, Eaton, Cazenovia, Canastota, Brewerton, Solvay, Central Square, Cato, Chittenango, Oneida and many other areas.

* Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Updated: 1/5/17

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