In certain instances, couples wish to enter a legal separation only and not seek a divorce. Couples that desire to enter into a legal separation must sign a separation agreement that has precise language concerning certain issues and the separation agreement must be signed and acknowledged in a specific way to be legally binding. Failure to meet the specific criteria required by the New York State law will render the separation agreement null and void.

A legal separation agreement has the same binding effect as a marital settlement agreement or divorce agreement, however, the parties will remain legally married. Typically, the separation agreement will address issues of custody and visitation, if children are involved, child support, maintenance, and equitable distribution. The separation agreement should also contain a clause that ensures the agreement is incorporated into any subsequent divorce.

The primary reasons that individuals seek to separate, but not divorce, are (1) a spouse can stay on the other spouse’s health insurance plan or (2) religious purposes. Individuals that are legally separated, but not divorced, cannot remarry.

It is important to note that an attorney can only represent one spouse in the preparation of a separation agreement and cannot provide legal advice to the other spouse. It is not required for both spouses to have their own attorney when entering into a separation agreement.

If you would like to speak with an experienced legal separation agreement attorney in Albany, New York, schedule a consultation with Andrew H. Wood, Esq. by calling (518) 694-8875 or emailing at