Did you know that there is no "Legal Separation" in New Jersey?
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.
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,” or “Interspousal Agreement,” or “Property Settlement Agreement,” without ever obtaining a divorce.
One 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.
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".
The decision to separate or divorce is a serious one.
This is especially true in the "age of Coronavirus." Some people have options; others simply have no place to move to at the present time.
Notwithstanding the fact that there is no concept of “legal separation” 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.
Some people who separate never actually get divorced. HERE'S AN ARTICLE about one such couple.
Yet many other separating couples end up in divorce court. THIS ARTICLE takes you through the entire NJ divorce process. It is a great overview if you are thinking about getting a divorce in New Jersey.
Have you considered therapy? A great therapist can help save your marriage. Or, if you have decided that saving the marriage is not an option, a great therapist can help you through the transitions that separation and divorce bring. CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF THERAPY.
I can help you understand the concepts of divorce and separation in more detail.
I have a free email course called Daily Dose of NJ Divorce. People considering getting a divorce in New Jersey love it.
If you sign up, you will immediately get an email from me taking 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 immediately.
Then every day for the next month (and less frequently after the first month) you'll get an additional email giving you very helpful information to help you ease your anxiety about what you are going through.
If this might interest you, CLICK HERE and you can find out more about my email course and see if it is for you.
I hope that this helps you.
Steven J. Kaplan, Esq.
Law Practice Specializing In
Divorce and Related Issues
5 Professional Circle
Colts Neck, NJ. 07722