Legal Separation in New Jersey

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There is no such thing as a legal separation in New Jersey. The closest thing to legal separation in the state of New Jersey is the 'divorce from bed and board'. In this divorce, the couple is financially separated, but legally married. After the divorce from bed and board is granted, the couple still remains married and cannot remarry unless they get a full divorce. This is a golden mean between legal separation and divorce.

The divorce from bed and board is ideal for couples who are married for a long time, have children involved and have benefits such as tax exemptions, medical expenses cover and insurance coverage by being married to each other.

As the statute of New Jersey does not recognize any documentation regarding the legal separation, you need to prepare a marital settlement agreement in order to take decisions and make arrangements about various marital issues concerning children and property.

Separation Agreement in New Jersey:

A separation agreement covers and protects both the spouses from the time they are separated to the time they decide to divorce or reconcile. The agreement is prepared by a legally authorized licensed attorney, notarized and signed by both the parties to be considered valid.

The separation agreement dictates the terms of separation regarding child custody, support, alimony or spousal support, division of property and distribution of debts, household responsibilities, etc. The separation agreement has to be recognized by the court and the provision of marital issues has to be defined clearly.

A separation agreement should consist of issues such as listed below:

The separation agreement lists in detail the payments that have to be bore by both the parties. These expenses are regarding childcare, health care, financial matters, bills, property etc.

  • Child support The payment of child support is determined according to the earning capacity of the spouse as well as the ability to provide a lifestyle, which was provided to the children before the separation of their parents. The support amount is calculated according to the income of the parent and the inheritance, monetary rewards are also calculated.
  • Spousal support - Spousal support or alimony is paid by the earning spouse to the dependent spouse. The amount of the spousal support covers the daily expense as well as the charges for the education or course required for the dependent spouse to earn a respectable amount and be independent. Besides, the lifestyle provided during the marriage is also taken into account.
  • Daily Expenses - Daily expenses such as electricity, phone or grocery bill payments are decided according to the income of the spouse and the contribution of the spouse to the family home. If a spouse is the sole bread winner of the family, he has to foot the bills for the family home.
  • Medical bills This comes under the division of responsibilities section of a marital agreement. Miscellaneous medical expenses such as the dentist has to be decided by the partners while entering into a separation agreement.
  • Health insurance If the health insurance for the family is taken, the partners will need to decide who will pay the premium as all the family members eventually benefit from an insurance plan in case of an emergency.
  • Mortgage Many couples' first asset is their family home which they purchase on a mortgage system after they get married. If the house is purchased together, both are responsible for the payment of the installments. However, if one of the spouses is planning to move out, he won't be regarded responsible for the payment of the mortgage installment. This has to be decided and followed strictly in the light of impending divorce or reconciliation.
  • Property taxes The taxes applicable on the property such as a family house, real estate or any inheritance are mostly divided between the spouses, if both of them are earning, that is. In case of a spouse being dependent on the other, the court can order the other one to bear the property taxes.
  • Car Loan The loan taken for a joint asset such as a car also needs to be determined as to be who should be paying the installments.
  • Credit Card Payments The purchases made on credit cards are to be scrutinized and the expenses are to divided equitably between the partners.
Usually, the legal separation in New Jersey lasts until the divorce or till the couple reunites. However, if the couple wants to file for a no-fault divorce, a legal separation of eighteen months is required in order to the divorce to be granted by the court. In this type of separation, reconciliation is always a possibility and the couple is able to give a second thought and second chance to their marriage. In the legal separation in New Jersey, alimony is not granted as the couple is still legally married even after signing the separation document.

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