Many states have laws that allow couples to petition the court for a legal separation instead of ending the marriage. However, New Jersey is not one of those states.
Even though New Jersey does not formally recognize legal separation, you still have several options available other than a divorce. For instance, you could petition the court for a Divorce from Bed and Board. After meeting with you to discuss your situation, an attorney can explain which option is best for you.
At The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC, your well-being and best interests are our top priority in Monmouth County, NJ. We have helped countless individuals with family law matters, including division of assets in Monmouth County, modifications of order, postnuptial agreements, domestic violence, and other matters. Our top-rated New Jersey family & divorce attorneys have more than 20 years of experience.
Contact The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC, to schedule a free consultation with our Monmouth County separation agreements attorney or call (732) 747-1882. We are here to help you navigate the complicated legal process of separating from your spouse.
How Can The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill Assist With Your Separation Agreement in Monmouth County, New Jersey?
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract with your spouse. Therefore, you do not want to enter into the agreement without sound legal advice from an experienced Monmouth County separation agreements lawyer. Ideally, you need an ardent legal advocate willing to fight to protect your best interests in achieving a fair separation agreement.
At The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC, we protect our clients by aggressively representing their interests during settlement negotiations and court hearings. Our highly skilled legal team is dedicated to achieving the outcome you desire. Numerous organizations have recognized The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC, and our attorneys for their legal abilities and client satisfaction.
Our founding attorney, Jennifer J. McCaskill, has received top ratings and recognition from Super Lawyers and Avvo. In addition to being a seasoned family law attorney, she is also a trained family law mediator. She is a panelist for the Monmouth County Matrimonial Division’s Early Settlement Program.
When you hire our award-winning team to help you with a separation agreement, you can expect us to:
- Listen to the details of your marriage and relationship, including your goals and needs for the separation agreement
- Identify priorities that we need to focus upon as we negotiate the agreement
- Work with you to protect your children and ensure their needs are met
- Provide routine updates regarding the progress of your case, including significant developments
- Carefully review all agreements proposed by your spouse before advising you to sign them
- Monitor your case to advise you if and when it is time to file a divorce petition and take the matter before a judge
Don’t wait to contact a lawyer about a divorce or legal separation in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The longer you avoid talking to an attorney, the stronger your spouse’s case could grow against you.
Contact The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC, to schedule a free case review with our Monmouth County family lawyers.
What Is the Difference Between a Monmouth County Divorce and a Legal Separation?
As discussed above, New Jersey does not recognize legal separations. However, that does not mean you need to remain married until you are ready to file for divorce. You can choose to live separately without getting a divorce.
The key difference between separating from your spouse with a separation agreement and obtaining a divorce is legally ending your marriage. A divorce ends the marriage. The parties are free to live their lives and remarry another person.
However, a separation agreement does not end your marriage. Instead, you resolve the same issues you would if you filed for divorce. Your agreement is incorporated into the separation agreement to present to the family court judge for approval.
The separation agreement should clearly address all issues that could arise during the legal separation. Otherwise, the parties might need to go back to court to ask the court to interpret the terms of the separation agreement.
A legal separation instead of a divorce has some advantages. For example, remaining married allows a spouse to maintain health insurance and Social Security benefits from the other spouse. A separation agreement allows you to resolve the same issues you would resolve in a divorce.
However, the downside is that you continue to be responsible for your spouse’s debts and other obligations because you are still married. Furthermore, you cannot remarry if you are only separated.
Knowing whether a divorce or separation agreement is the best choice if you want to leave your spouse can be difficult. A Monmouth County family law attorney can help you weigh the pros and cons of a legal separation and a divorce to decide which option is best for your circumstances and needs.
Are There Requirements for Legal Separation in New Jersey?
Because the state does not recognize legal separation, no laws or legal requirements exist for separating from your spouse. Therefore, all you need is a valid marriage, a desire to live separately, and the intent to enter into the separation agreement.
The separation agreement is a contract between spouses. Therefore, the agreement is governed by contract law. It remains in effect until the couple reconciles or decides to file for a divorce.
If you and your spouse want to separate but cannot agree on all issues, you can petition the court for a Divorce from Bed and Board, also known as a limited divorce. The parties must agree that they want a limited divorce and agree upon the grounds for divorce.
The couple can submit a proposed agreement to the court for approval. However, the court can also decide issues for the couple if they cannot agree on specific terms.
What Can a Separation Agreement Include in Monmouth County, NJ?
A separation agreement is designed to resolve the same issues that you would resolve during your divorce, such as:
- Child support
- Child custody
- Alimony or spousal support
- Property division
- Parenting time and visitation
- Management of assets and debts
An advantage of entering a separation agreement is that you can do so without involving the court. That means the terms of your agreement can remain private and confidential. Your negotiations can also remain private.
However, when executed correctly, a separation agreement is a legally binding contract between the parties. Therefore, if a spouse changes their mind and does not want to abide by the terms of the separation agreement, the other spouse can file an action with the court. The spouse asks the court to enforce the terms of the separation agreement and/or award damages for harm caused by the breach of contract.
Why Would Spouses Choose To Separate Instead of Obtaining a Divorce Decree?
Couples choose to remain married but live separately for many reasons. Common reasons a couple might choose legal separation instead of divorce include:
- The couple is not sure they want a divorce, so they want to keep the option open to reconcile
- Religious or moral beliefs about divorce
- The couple wants to remain married until their children are grown
- A spouse needs to remain on the other spouse’s health insurance plan
- There are financial advantages for the spouses to remain married
Regardless of the reason why a couple chooses separation over divorce, it is essential to understand the legal consequences of entering a separation agreement. The terms of the agreement could have long-term consequences for one or both spouses.
Each Spouse Should Have Independent Counsel During a Separation
Spouses might hire one attorney to prepare a separation agreement because they believe it will be less costly and easier than hiring separate lawyers. However, hiring one lawyer is unwise. An attorney can only represent one of the spouse’s best interests.
As discussed above, a separation agreement is a legally binding contract. Therefore, each spouse should hire a lawyer to represent them during the negotiations and execution of the separation agreement. Otherwise, one spouse is at a distinct disadvantage because the other spouse benefits from having legal counsel to protect their interests.
Monmouth County separation agreement lawyers work with their clients to identify issues to resolve. Then, they negotiate an agreement that both spouses are willing to accept. Generally, separation agreements work best when the spouses are amicable and willing to be flexible.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Monmouth County Separation Agreement Lawyers
If you are considering a divorce or legal separation, hiring a Monmouth County family law attorney is one of the first tasks to address. Even if you believe your spouse will cooperate in an amicable divorce, you need sound legal advice to protect your interests and your children’s best interests. Call The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC today to schedule a free case review with a Monmouth County separation agreement attorney.