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To Divorce or Separate - The BIG Question
Many persons ask their therapist or divorce attorney whether they should divorce now or separate and divorce later. From a legal perspective it is usually best to commence divorce proceedings rather than separate. If the marriage is irretrievably broken a separation postpones the inevitable. A separation, by its nature cannot compel an unwilling spouse to provide financial information, divide assets, allocate debts or pay support. However, if the parties are able to exchange financial information and reach an interim agreement on all important issues, a separation may be desirable until one party or the other feels a compulsion to terminate the marriage by way of divorce. When one considers the Court imposed delays (sometimes as much as three years ) it may be desirable to immediately commence divorce rather than wait.
In New Jersey, a separation agreement is any legal document signed by both spouses outlining the terms of the separation. Subjects resolved in a separation agreement can include child support, child custody, debt allocation and asset distribution. Notarizing the document ensures its validity, since there is no such case-type in New Jersey that provides for a "legal separation." Spouses wanting child support during the separation period, however, must file a claim with the New Jersey probation department.
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