Many New Yorkers who are unsure about the status of their marriage separate before ultimately making the decision to divorce. In such instances, it is not uncommon for them to enter into a separation agreement that defines their rights and obligations. Many separation agreements are eventually incorporated into divorce decrees as well. As discussed in a recent New York ruling, it is important for anyone considering entering into a separation agreement to understand that it is a legally binding document that, in most instances, will be enforced by the courts. If you want to learn more about your options with regard to ending your marriage, you should speak to a New York divorce lawyer promptly.
It is alleged that the parties divorced; the trial court incorporated by reference the parties’ separation agreement into their final judgment of divorce. The wife subsequently filed a motion seeking a money judgment for unpaid maintenance arrears totaling $70,857. The husband filed a cross-motion to reform or vacate certain provisions of the separation agreement. The court denied both motions but granted the wife’s request for counsel fees. Both parties appealed.
Enforceability of Separation Agreements
On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision regarding the enforceability of the maintenance provisions in the separation agreement. The court found that Domestic Relations Law § 236B(3) governed the case since the parties sought resolution through agreement rather than judicial intervention. The separation agreement, which was in writing, subscribed by the parties, and acknowledged appropriately, was deemed valid and enforceable. The court rejected the husband’s argument that a different section of the Domestic Relations Law applied due to his lack of legal representation during the proceedings, as the parties had a valid separation agreement. Continue reading