What is the difference between separation and divorce?

When parties choose to become divorced, they must agree upon grounds for divorce. (In New York State, these include cruel and inhuman treatment, constructive abandonment, abandonment, confinement in prison for a period of three or more consecutive years, adultery, living pursuant to a separation agreement or judgment of separation for one year or more, and irretrievable breakdown of the relationship for a period of at least six months). You must obtain a Judgment of Divorce from the court in order to be divorced. Once you become divorced, you are no longer married and free to marry someone else. You cannot utilize the same health insurance once you are divorced unless you apply for COBRA.

On the other hand, when people choose to enter into a separation agreement, they sign a separation agreement and file it with the County Clerk’s office. They need not obtain a Judgment of Divorce from the court or any court order. All property, custody, and visitation rights will be addressed and settled in the separation agreement. However, the parties are still married. After living pursuant to the separation agreement for one year or more, the parties can then file for divorce. The parties can remain on each other’s health insurance during the time that they are separated, which often results in savings to the parties of the cost of health insurance or COBRA.

Our mediators will be happy to help you determine the best option for your family during this difficult time. Contact us now at (631) 419-6111 or contact us online for a free consultation.