Yes. For some couples, legal separation is the first step in the divorce process. For others, it is a permanent solution for a marriage that can not be fixed.
Couples choose legal separation for a variety of reasons. For some, it is a way to “freeze” their assets before starting the divorce process. This can make it easier to take note of which assets are marital assets and which are not, expediting the property division portion of their divorce. For others, it is a way to exit a toxic relationship without divorcing, which is a sin in many religions. In other cases yet, a couple might not be absolutely certain that they want to divorce and instead decide to separate until they can determine if they want to remain in the marriage. All of these reasons are valid and all require the aid of an experienced divorce attorney.
The first step toward obtaining your legal separation is drafting an agreement that outlines all terms of the separation. Property division, child custody, and child support should be discussed in this agreement. If you and your spouse can not work together to draft an agreement that works for you, your attorney can step in and help create a valid contract. It must then be notarized like any other legal contract.
Once your separation agreement is notarized, your assets are frozen and you are free to continue living separately. In New Jersey, a legal separation is not complicated. But when you have a legal separation agreement in place, you and your spouse have grounds to allege contempt of court if the other somehow violates the agreement.
In New Jersey, it is also possible to obtain what is known as a bed and board divorce. This basically means that a couple stops living together as spouses, but does not go through the legal processes involved in a divorce. The difference between a bed and board divorce and a legal separation is that a bed and board divorce requires court intervention. Both parties must consent to the bed and board divorce agreement, which covers the same issues as a traditional divorce agreement such as alimony and child support. If one party does not agree to the bed and board divorce, the court will not grant one.
To determine whether a traditional divorce, a legal separation, or a bed and board divorce is right for you, contact an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney at The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. today. Our team of attorneys understands the challenges you are facing and can answer any questions you have about divorce and separation. We work with clients in Mercer, Ocean, Burlington, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties.