Legal v. Informal Separation in New Jersey

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 29, 2024 | 0 Comments

Separating from your life partner is a stressful and emotional process. Whether things ended on a good or bad note, and regardless of the length of the marriage, the disentangling of two lives will always be a significant life event. Now that you are ready for a separation and potentially moving toward divorce, you may wonder what separation looks like. As will be discussed, New Jersey has taken a unique approach to separation, and the Lento Law Firm Family Law Team can assist you in determining how to best move forward in protecting your rights while ending your relationship. Connect with us today by calling 888-535-3686 or contacting us online

What Is the Difference Between Legal and Informal Separation?  

When talking about separation, people frequently use the terms "legal separation" and "informal separation." Legal separation is generally court-recognized and includes the court issuing a decree of separation. An informal separation does not involve the courts and does not typically have legal significance. Many states require a legal separation before spouses may file for divorce, but New Jersey operates differently.  

How Does Separation Work in New Jersey?  

In New Jersey, there is no legal separation for married couples, where the court approves and designates a couple as separated. By default, all separations are informal, but that doesn't mean you and your spouse should shake hands, agree to separate, and call it a day. Because there is no legal separation in New Jersey, a separation agreement is the best way to formalize your separation and protect your interests.  

What Is a Separation Agreement?  

A separation agreement is a written legal document between you and your spouse declaring your separation and outlining how certain decisions will be made and how logistics will be handled. You will want to include child custody, child support, alimony, handling joint accounts, and payment of household or joint bills in your separation agreement. You may also want to include provisions preventing either spouse from selling joint property or incurring debt during the separation, for example, saying your spouse cannot buy a car or sell their current vehicle during the separation.  

Even if you and your spouse are separating amicably, you never know how things will turn out. If you genuinely agree on all matters related to your separation, then there is certainly no harm in documenting the terms of your separation in a formal separation agreement. The best way to ensure your separation agreement is legally binding and protects your interests is to work with the Lento Law Firm Team. Our seasoned divorce attorneys have drafted countless separation agreements for separating couples throughout New Jersey.  

How Can I Reverse or End My Separation? 

Because your separation is not court-recognized, you may end it at any time without needing court approval. You can end your separation through either divorce or reconciliation. The only thing to keep in mind is that if you are filing for divorce on the grounds of separation, you must have been separated for a minimum of 18 months.  

Do I Need a Family Law Attorney?  

Even if you are unsure whether you want to move forward with separating or getting a divorce, knowing your legal options and rights is always advisable. The Lento Law Firm can help you with the dos and don'ts of separation; let us handle the legal side so you can handle everything else. Let us help you today; call 888-535-3686 or contact us online

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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