If you and your spouse are having marital difficulties, your mind might jump quickly to thoughts of divorce. However, a legal separation, which is at times the first step toward a divorce may be the solution you and your spouse are seeking for the short term.
Although New Jersey does not formally acknowledge legal separation, a separation agreement basically outlines the terms that you have established for your separation and it will resolve custody, child support, property division, alimony, and who pays what debt. When such an agreement is prepared and put into writing, it has to be signed by both parties and then notarized. Once the document is notarized, all the debts and assets shared by the couple are considered frozen and divided separately for each spouse.
Why Have A Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement is a document or contract between a wife and husband. It is at times, the best option for couples before they decide to definitively divorce and end their relationship for good. When the couple is drafting the agreement, such issues as how they want to handle the payment of bills, child and spousal support, car payments, taxes, a mortgage and even household and credit card bills are addressed. Because the situation is not yet at the level of anger or frustration that usually comes with a divorce, it is somewhat easier for both parties to discuss these topics in a civil manner and determine what is in the best interests of their family for the duration of the separation. If eventually you and your spouse do decide to divorce, many of these volatile issues will have already been worked out.
The Courts And Separation Agreements In New Jersey
You do not have to go to the family court in New Jersey to obtain a legal separation agreement, you and your spouse will draft the agreement and have it notarized. However, there is a chance that once all of this is done, one spouse will want the agreement set aside. At that point, you may have to obtain legal counsel and go to a family court.
If one spouse feels that the agreement is not fairly distributing assets or is unfairly assigning the debt, he or she can petition to have the agreement set aside. Additionally, if one spouse feels he or she was placed under extreme duress or was coerced in any way to sign the agreement, then they can also ask the courts to set the agreement aside or have it readjusted. Additionally, the agreement can be set aside of there was an error when the value of the assets were determined. It is extremely important that you discuss any contemplated separation agreement with an experienced divorce lawyer before signing such a document.
The Procedure For A Divorce From Bed And Board (Limited Divorce)
Much like a conventional divorce, a couple can receive a divorce from bed and board for any reason in New Jersey. No matter the grounds for the decision, it must be approved by both spouses. In a divorce from bed and board, the couple will still be married and cannot remarry to another person while the divorce from bed and board is in effect. Changing the divorce from bed and board into an absolute divorce is not hard, but it requires paperwork to be filed with the court. There will also be the requirement to pay court fees to convert the bed and board divorce into a final divorce. If a couple chooses reconciliation after divorce from bed and board, they only need to apply for a suspension or revocation of the filing. This is not a choice when a couple has completed a divorce. If a couple has finished their divorce proceeding and decides on reconciliation, they would have to remarry. This is an advantage of a divorce from bed and board.
Similar to a complete divorce, in a divorce from bed and board, the marital assets will be divided between the spouses. If no agreement can be reached, the court will decide how the marital assets and debts will be distributed. There is also the possibility of alimony with a divorce from bed and board.
Other Considerations For A Bed And Board Divorce
A couple that is seeking to separate but would still like the other spouse to retain health insurance coverage might consider the divorce from bed and board. A bed and board divorce will allow the spouse who is covered under the other spouse's health insurance to continue to receive those benefits. Depending on the work situations and ages of the participants, it may be beneficial to think about a bed and board divorce instead of a complete divorce for the purposes of retaining health insurance.
Contact A Qualified Ocean County Divorce Attorney
There are circumstances in which a couple simply needs a break from one another to think about where their relationship stands and they are not prepared to go through the process of a complete divorce. While New Jersey does not have a legal separation, the bed and board divorce is a reasonable alternative to consider. In other circumstances, the couple might want to separate, but one spouse does not want to deprive the other spouse of health insurance coverage. This too makes a bed and board divorce something to consider.
If you or a loved one are considering a divorce in Monmouth County, Ocean County or anywhere else in New Jersey and are not yet sure that you want to go through with it, a bed and board divorce might be a viable option and the divorce attorneys at the Law Firm of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey can assist you in understanding how it works.