Some couples need a separation and time apart, but want to leave the door open in case they decide to reconcile. Often, they see a marriage counselor during their separation and live in different homes. However, they may want to formalize certain arrangements such as parenting arrangements, asset distribution, spousal or child support, and visitation. In New Jersey, a legal separation does not require you to file a complaint in family court, as is required in some other states. Developing a legally binding agreement with the assistance of a family law attorney can provide explicit terms for the separation as you mull over your future. The experienced Monmouth County legal separation lawyers at Goldstein Law Group can help you formulate such an agreement.Devising a Legal Separation Agreement
Separation agreements are legally binding documents, like contracts, that cover a period of time from when the spouses formally separate until they reconcile or divorce. In order to be upheld in court, a separation agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties, and notarized. It is not filed in court.
Usually, a separation agreement resolves issues related to property division (including the marital home and debt apportionment), custody, support, and alimony. In addition to covering these subjects, it should also address how the household income will be used to support each partner living separately, parental responsibilities and visitation, how medical bills and health insurance will be handled, who will pay for the mortgage and property tax, who will handle the car lease or property payments, and how children's needs will be met during the separation.
When parties separate, any property or debts should be frozen and separated. Separating property and debts means that if your estranged spouse accrues gambling debts during the separation, the court will not hold you responsible for them should you decide to divorce. In some cases, an unscrupulous spouse will try to use the separation period to get rid of or deplete marital assets. Accordingly, a formal agreement should also prohibit a spouse from converting marital assets during the separation period.
In some cases, a spouse agrees to very adverse terms, assuming that he or she will reconcile with the other spouse. If a divorce is pursued, the partner who has the better terms may try to use the separation agreement to get the same terms for the divorce. It can take a significant amount of litigation, which is both expensive and time-consuming, to fix what has happened because of an unfair, ill-considered separation agreement. This is why it is important to retain an attorney for your legal separation, even if you believe you are likely to reconcile with your spouse later.Discuss Your Legal Separation with a Monmouth County Lawyer
The divorce attorneys at Goldstein Law Group provide knowledgeable legal counsel that is tailored to the individual interests and needs of our clients. Our main office is located in Old Bridge, and we have a satellite office in Freehold, New Jersey. Many of our clients come from communities such as Rumson, Manalapan, and Red Bank, as well as throughout Ocean County. Contact us at (732) 967-6777 or via our online form to set up a free consultation with a Monmouth County legal separation attorney.