Legal separation is often viewed as an alternative to divorce for couples who may not have the funds or the desire to complete the divorce process, but they no longer wish to live together as a couple. New Jersey residents have the option to legally separate from a spouse by creating a binding document called a separation agreement. It’s important for those deciding between legal separation and divorce to understand the differences in the two options.
How legal separation works
When a couple takes the steps to legally separate, they usually have no intentions of resuming the relationship. A legal separation is not like a trial separation where couples may attempt to make changes to their relationship and move toward reconciliation. In a legal separation, the couple is still technically married, and they cannot remarry until a divorce is completed. Legally separated couples may have to deal with child custody arrangements, asset division and other legal matters that are also common in divorce.
Choosing divorce instead
If one wants to remarry, divorce is the only option. Some people prefer the finality of divorce as it may give a feeling that all loose ends are tied up. Divorce and legal separation both typically require time spent in court to finalize financial arrangements and other agreements. A legal separation is binding, but divorce is a permanent solution where one is considered legally single, and the marriage is officially dissolved by the court.
Legal separation can work for many reasons. Some people are better off financially by staying married but living separately. Divorce can provide the feeling of finality that many people want, especially after a difficult marriage. Anyone living in New Jersey who is considering legal separation or divorce can seek advice from an experienced family law attorney to decide which option makes the most sense for their situation.