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My Spouse and I Would Like to Divorce on Friendly Terms. What Are We Allowed to Do?

November 25, 2014

While some divorces can be contentious and high conflict, many couples have simply grown apart and desire to leave their marriage as amicably as possible. However, even where spouses are in agreement on most or all of the terms of their post-marriage life, they are often left with the uncertainty of whether their intended agreement is permitted under New York State law. Therefore, one of the most common questions in an uncontested divorce is, “Are we allowed to agree to this?”

Most often, the answer to the question is, “Yes!” Separation, Support, and Property Settlement Agreements are the cornerstone document of uncontested divorces and provide a wide range of latitude for parties to fashion the terms of their own divorce. So long as an agreement is not contrary to public policy, or otherwise illegal, spouses are able to provide for custody, child support, and spousal maintenance, the sale of the family home, division of retirement accounts, and even how the family pet will be cared for.

There are exceptions to the general rule. For example, upon a divorce or separation, an individual may not be allowed to receive health insurance coverage under his or her former spouse’s health insurance plan. Likewise, a party may not be able to waive spousal maintenance where it would leave them dependent on government assistance.

Even where a term of an agreement may be permitted by law, it may not be advisable. Experienced matrimonial attorneys are able to provide insight as to common pitfalls of divorce, and raise issues which may never have been considered by their client.

Once a separating couple has reached an agreement in principle, an experienced matrimonial attorney is invaluable for transferring intentions into a binding agreement that will protect their client’s interests for years to come. A thorough and well-drafted agreement provides spouses with a degree of certainty and comfort about their future and can ensure that an amicable divorce remains amicable.