Did you know that there is no "Legal Separation" in New Jersey?
(By the way...if you have other divorce-related questions, sign up for my Daily Dose of Divorce email course. It's the best investment you can make in yourself. And it's free.)
Many people contact my firm 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 as a legal separation in NJ; they can simply move out tonight if they wish to (of course, I also make it clear that they cannot simply abandon their responsibilities, both financial and otherwise, for a spouse and children.)
The fact of the matter is that 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 is available for couples not wanting to get divorced, but who want to live apart and settle all money, property, and parenting issues now.
In a California legal separation case, a person can ask the judge for orders for child support, spousal support, custody and parenting time, or any other judicial relief that a person can obtain as part of a divorce case.
Here in New Jersey, though, if people simply separate, there is no judge to ask for assistance because there is no concept of legal separation.
1.This may be a meaningless distinction though, because in New Jersey 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 “Marital Settlement Agreement,” without ever obtaining a divorce. Take a look at this article about how to create your Matrimonial Settlement Agreement. After all, this is how it will likely end up, whether you choose to separate or divorce.
2.You can also file a Complaint with the Superior Court of New Jersey seeking child custody, child support, alimony (or all three) without also filing for divorce. Here is a link to the NJ Judiciary's Self Help Center if you choose to try to resolve these issues on your own, without hiring a lawyer.
3. It is also possible to seek a "Divorce from Bed and Board" in New Jersey, which is a formal 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, like the possibility of continuing on a family health insurance policy without additional premium costs.
I call this a "99% divorce".
5. Yet many other separating couples end up in divorce court. This next article is a great overview if you are thinking about getting a divorce in New Jersey.
7. Also, I have many more resources to help you understand the concepts of divorce and separation in more detail.
8. An immediate option for you is my free email course called Daily Dose of Divorce. People considering separating or getting a divorce in New Jersey regularly tell me that they love it.
If you sign up, you will immediately get an extremely helpful email from me that takes you through the entire NJ divorce process.
It will take you less than 10 minutes to understand much of what you need to know.
It's an easy read and you'll have it right now.
Then every day for the next month (and less frequently after the first month) you'll get an additional email giving you helpful information to help you ease your anxiety about what you are going through.
Sign up here to subscribe to my "Daily Dose of Divorce" email program. It will really help you.
Steven J. Kaplan, Esq.
Law Practice Specializing In
Divorce and Related Issues
5 Professional Circle
Colts Neck, NJ. 07722