Monmouth County Separation Lawyer Steve Kaplan

"Many people contact my lawfirm because they are considering separating from their spouse and they want to know about how to obtain a 'legal separation'.

I tell them that there is no such thing in the State of New Jersey as a legal separation; rather, they can simply move out tonight if they wish to (of course, they cannot simply abandon their responsibilities, both financial and otherwise, for a spouse and children.)

Unlike some other states, New Jersey does not have a formal law authorizing Legal Separation. Other states, such as California, do offer a formal legal separation as an option for couples wishing to stop living as husband and wife. For example, a Legal Separation in California might be appropriate for couples not wishing to get divorced quite yet but who want to live apart and decide on money, property, and parenting issues. In a California Legal Separation case, a person can ask the judge for orders such as child support, spousal support, custody and visitation, or any other orders a person can get with a divorce case.

How to Proceed with a Separation in New Jersey

Here in New Jersey people can simply separate without filing a court action. It is possible to negotiate all issues of support, children, and property distribution, and have an agreement reached with your spouse that has been drawn up into a formal contract. These contracts go by several names but are virtually identical: "marital settlement agreement," "interspousal agreement," or "property settlement agreement".

If a person needs help from a judge but does not wish to seek a divorce, that person can file a complaint seeking child custody, child support, alimony (or all three) without also filing for divorce.

It is also possible to obtain a Divorce from Bed and Board in New Jersey, which is a formal legal court order that resolves issues of child support, alimony, property distribution, etc. without granting a formal divorce to the parties. Some people find this more acceptable than a traditional divorce for religious reasons and other practical reasons, such as the ability to often remain on a family health insurance plan.

The decision to separate or divorce is a serious one. Notwithstanding the fact that there is no concept of legal separation here in New Jersey, there are still difficult issues of child support, alimony, property distribution, debts, insurance, and many other issues that need to be worked out.

I am available to help you right now. Feel free to call me at (732) 845-9010 or contact us today by email."

--Steve