A planned separation is very difficult but when your spouse surprises you by leaving and taking your joint assets with him then it can be devastating.

Steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Get a restraining order for asset protection.  This is typically used to prevent the loss of marital assets before a divorce is finalized or to freeze business assets on behalf of a party with claims against the business.
  • Some potential assets needing protection are bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, stock portfolios, real property, inheritance, royalties, intellectual property, and businesses.

Three steps to protecting an asset with a restraining order are:

1) identify the asset precisely, e.g., bank account number,

2) identify who has access to the asset, and

3) determine the best way to protect the vulnerable asset.

The effective way to protect a tangible asset like a bank account may be to freeze it from parties with access to it.

Grounds for divorce in New York State:

  1. Cruel and inhuman treatment.
  2. Abandonment for a period of one or more years.
  3. Imprisonment for a period of three or more consecutive years after the marriage.
  4. Adultery
  5. Living separate or apart for one or more years.

Free legal help is available for those with an income that is less than the federal poverty level, the elderly (60+), disabled, victims of domestic violence and military members.  Check with the Legal Aid or try to find a Pro Bono lawyer.

The following link can bring you to Family Court forms:

Make sure you scroll down on the page – many forms.

Make sure you scroll down on the page because there are many forms.


Understanding Separation vs. Divorce

Divorce and legal separation have similar effects in many ways. Both a divorce and a legal separation legally create a space between you and your spouse. You live separately. Your finances are separated. Child custody, child support, division of marital assets and debts and spousal support (called alimony if you divorce) are all ordered by the court. Divorcing and getting legally separated both create an important division in your lives and create financial rules and boundaries that you are required to live by.

The important difference between a divorce and a legal separation is that when you divorce, your marriage is formally ended. You are no longer married to each other. You are free to remarry. You live your life moving forward as a single person. When you get a legal separation, however, you remain legally married to each other. You must continue to mark that you are married on forms. You cannot remarry. You still have the right to inherit from each other. A child born to a married woman is legally the child of the other spouse unless proven otherwise.

Separation to Get a Divorce

A legal separation can become the grounds for a divorce. You resolve all of the issues when you create your separation agreement, live under it for a period of time and that agreement then converts to a divorce decree after a period of time.

(Brette Sember, Esq)



Leave a reply