Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.
201-793-7739Jersey City & Bayonne
973-200-4892West Caldwell

Can a couple get a legal separation in New Jersey?

One of the wonderful things about our country is the fact that each state has the ability to create its own laws. From laws governing the operation of motor vehicles to matters concerning families, the variations in similar laws can be seen as a good thing as well as a bad thing because they can actually create problems if you move to another state and are not aware of the specific differences in the law.

Take for example New Jersey laws concerning family law issues. Slight differences in our laws between those in other states could easily create issues with child custody, visitation and even how property is divided in divorce. These differences can also create confusion over what our state allows in regards to the dissolution of marriage – confusion that could lead to the question we're asking above:

Can a couple get a legal separation in New Jersey?

Unlike other states in our country, New Jersey courts do not grant legal separations, which are typically marked by the signing of a separation agreement between spouses that handles everything from property division to a child custody arrangement. Legal separations are preferred in cases where a couple is not ready to end the marriage but wants to live separately from their partner, or in cases where divorce is frowned upon because of a religious belief.

But because of state laws, couples in New Jersey have no legal remedy to guide them through the process. Instead, couples have one of two options. The first option is to simply live separately and to manage the applicable family law issues as amicably as possible. Couples who choose this option must remember that because of our state laws, help from a judge may not be possible if negotiations go badly.

The second option is to file for divorce. In New Jersey, a spouse may establish grounds for divorce, such as adultery or extreme cruelty, in order to dissolve their marriage. In cases where couples cannot establish fault, they must remain separated, which means living apart and not engaging in marital relations, for at least 18 months before a divorce will be granted.

Whatever option you choose, know that obtaining the services of a family law attorney is likely necessary, as they will have a better understanding of the law and the options best suited for you.

Source: New Jersey Courts, "Dissolution – Divorce," Accessed March 18, 2016

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