Some couples need a separation and time apart from one another, 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. People who decide to go through a separation 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 may be 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 for this agreement to be upheld in court, a separation agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties, and notarized. It does not have to be filed in court; however, if enforcement is sought when your spouse fails to abide by its terms, it will become necessary to file an application with the court to enforce it.
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 while living separately, parental responsibilities and visitation, how medical bills and health insurance will be handled, who will pay for the mortgage and property taxes, who will handle the car lease or property payments, insurances, and how the children’s needs will be met during the separation. A legal separation attorney can help Monmouth County residents ensure that the agreement covers everything necessary for their individual situation.
When parties separate, it is prudent that any property or debts should be frozen and separated, if possible. Separating property and debts means that if your estranged spouse accrues gambling debts during the separation period, the court will not hold you responsible for those debts 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 may agree to very adverse terms during the separation period, assuming that he or she will eventually 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 vitally important to retain an attorney for your legal separation, even if you believe you are likely to reconcile with your spouse later. Better hire an attorney now, to guide you and prevent you from entering into a situation and agreement that may not be in your best interest, than waiting to hire a lawyer to try and get you out of that onerous or unfair agreement!Discuss Your Situation with a Legal Separation Lawyer in Monmouth County
The divorce attorneys at Goldstein Law Group provide knowledgeable legal counsel that is tailored to the individual interests and needs of our clients. Our offices are located in Old Bridge and Brielle and serve clients throughout Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties, as well as other communities throughout New Jersey. Contact us at 732-967-6777 or via our online form to set up a free consultation with a Monmouth County legal separation attorney.