Separation Agreements in Lieu of a Divorce
Is There Legal Separation in New Jersey? No.
There is no legal separation for married couples in New Jersey as compared to other states. However, parties to a marriage may choose to have a separation agreement drafted instead of becoming divorced. A separation agreement serves as a contract between the two parties that may be drafted to be enforceable upon the parties becoming divorced.
Parties may agree to terms dealing with equitable distribution of property and debt, spousal support and custody of children and child support.
Why Choose a Separation Agreement Instead of a Divorce?
Parties may find themselves in a situation where they are contemplating divorce, but don’t want to take that step, yet, they want to outline their responsibilities to each other going forward, whether they stay together or not. It may give parties to a marriage time to think about their next steps, while at the same time dealing with the concrete issues of finance in a marriage, custody of children and other matters if the parties separate in terms of living together. You can always have a separation agreement modified in the future if you the parties jointly decide to do so. Regardless, parties are still legally married and the courts view them as such.
A separation agreement may also be a choice for those who do not wish to get divorced due to religious or other basis. One specific reason may be that the parties wish for one of them to remain on the other’s health insurance, with a separation agreement, that is possible.
Divorce from Bed and Board
Alternatively, parties may seek a Divorce from Bed and Board, which is not an absolute divorce, but a divorce from economic ties between the parties, and in some instances, depending on your health insurance, one party may stay on the other parties health insurance.
What Happens with a Separation Agreement upon Divorce
If the parties choose to get divorced, their separation agreement is enforceable and may be incorporated into any divorce process they go through, including their Final Judgment of Divorce.