When a couple legally separates, they stop living together but do not formally end their marriage. Couples choose to legally separate for a variety of reasons. When a married couple who has significant assets to divide or children to care for and support financially decides to legally separate, they might opt to draft and sign a separation agreement. This document outlines all the same issues that would be determined in a divorce, such as:
Although a couple does not have to work with an attorney to create this agreement, it is often advisable that they do so neither party loses the assets he or she is entitled to receive when the couple separates. This is especially important if the couple knows they plan to separate, but not divorce.
For most couples, legal separation is the step before their divorce. It is the formal point at which their assets are “frozen,” meaning that any assets accumulated together before that point are marital property and assets procured after are singularly-held property.
Other couples instead choose legal separation in place of a divorce. Couples who choose this option might do so for financial reasons – getting a divorce can be prohibitively expensive and if a couple can amicably agree to the terms of their separation, a divorce might be an unnecessary obstacle. For couples whose religions forbid divorce, a legal separation is a way to end a marriage without committing a sin.
In New Jersey, it is also possible for a couple to obtain a limited divorce, also known as a bed and board divorce. When a couple opts for a bed and board divorce, they are considered to be financially divorced, yet legally married. In other words, an individual who has a limited divorce is no longer obligated to share his or her assets with his or her spouse, but he or she may not remarry. Generally, this type of arrangement is meant for long-married couples who want to end their relationships and not seek new marriages.
Find out more about the legal separation process during your initial consultation with Lansing & Hannu, LLC. Our firm proudly serves clients in Monmouth, Mercer, Burlington, Middlesex, and Ocean counties.