One of the most common aspects of a divorce is a phase of separation between the two spouses. The separation phase basically involves two spouses living apart from one another. While this is typically voluntary for both spouses, they will likely still be negotiating the terms of their divorce. One technique spouses will use is drafting a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a drafted document that puts forward special terms for the period of separation that the spouses have prior to a divorce.
Separation agreements will typically cover the same bases as a divorce settlement, but will only serve for the period of the separation. However, separation agreements are typically the building blocks of a full divorce. Separation agreements can cover items such as child support, spousal support, bills, debts, and other household expenses. These agreements can be drafted by both spouses, and do not need to be signed by a judge in the courtroom, however, it may be helpful to have a potential separation agreement reviewed by an attorney. The terms set forward in separation agreements will most likely become the terms of the divorce or at least the basis of argument for the full divorce terms. While divorce settlements will still be negotiated as the separation continues, if either of the spouses finds the separation agreement disagreeable, when it comes up in divorce court they may argue against the fairness of the terms of the agreement. In addition, if the information used to draft the separation agreement turns out to be false, such as a real estate appraisal, the separation agreement may hold less significance in court.
New Jersey offers a form of divorce that does not have the lengthy process and struggle of a full divorce. This process is known as a "divorce from bed and board," or sometimes referred to as a "limited divorce" and it acts in similar nature to a separation. Through a limited divorce, the spouses will separate all financial assets and property, however, they will remain married by law. This means neither spouse is eligible to be married once more until the divorce becomes finalized. The grounds for a "limited divorce" remain the same, however, this divorce is merely economic and is focused on separating the spouses and dividing the property. On top of this, things such as continuous spousal support and child support are not typically negotiated in this form of divorce, though a judge may assign them if they are necessary. A limited divorce will also divide any and all debts between the spouses as well. A limited divorce will likely have settled any issues that would have been discussed in a full divorce, so if the former spouses desire to complete the divorce, the remaining steps will involve finalizing it through the court.
Separation and limited divorce can be much more complex than they initially seem. Dividing property and debts can become complicated, and may require the counsel from an experienced and dedicated Family Law attorney. If you or a loved one is involved in matters of Family Law in New Jersey, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.