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New Jersey Legal Separation
Legal Separation in New Jersey

Legal separation in New Jersey is informal and unlike legal separation routines in many other jurisdictions. Court proceedings are not necessary for a legally recognized separation. In New Jersey, a separation agreement is any legal document signed by both spouses stating the terms and conditions of the separation. The separation agreement, which should be notarized and signed by both spouses, normally deals with child support and child custody, and assets and liabilities. Anyone can write a separation agreement, but for people desiring legal counsel, attorneys can assist with the writing of the document. Spouses desiring child support during the separation period must file a claim with the New Jersey probation department.

New Jersey calls legal separation a "divorce from bed and board." The estranged couple is financially separated but remain legally married. The court later grants a judgment allocating the assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage. Alimony is generally not awarded during such limited divorce actions.

When the couple signs a separation agreement, New Jersey considers it a legally binding contract that lasts until divorce is granted, unless the couple reconciles. This agreement benefits both spouses because it allows financial independence as well as protection of property during the separation.

Couples file for legal separation rather than divorce because it not only leaves the door open for reconciliation, but it also gives the couple time to come to an agreement concerning assets and custody. In most situations, a couple petitioning the court for "divorce from bed and board" keeps the same insurance coverage each spouse had during the marriage. Continuity of medical insurance is another major reason why estranged couples go the route of separation instead of immediately filing for divorce. In this type of separation, the couple will receives the same tax benefits of a married couple.

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a legal binding contract signed by spouses, which is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. This can be a very complex and detailed document depending upon the unique situation of the marriage. Many spouses consult an attorney to provide this or they decide to prepare their own.

Complaint

The couple simply writes and signs their agreement.

Grounds

The grounds for a legal separation in New Jersey are the same as for divorce. Under no-fault, this means living apart for 18 months with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation, according to New Jersey Statutes, Title 2A Chapter 34-21. New Jersey also has general grounds for divorce, including adultery, abandonment for at least one year, physical or mental abuse, drug addiction, alcoholism, imprisonment for 18 months or longer or unusual sexual behavior.

Residency

The filing spouse must have lived in New Jersey for one year or the cause of for legal separation is adultery and took place in New Jersey.

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