Legal Separation in Ocean County
By Jeff J Horn, Esq.
Is there Legal Separation in Ocean County?
Yes and no. New Jersey Family law does not have the specific phrase “legal separation” in its Family law statutes. Frequently, legal separation in Ocean County is exactly what my clients need. They want to live under a separate roof. Child custody and child support needs to be resolved. All financial arrangements settle. You need a very clear and actionable writing.
However, in 23 years, no client has produced a self-authored Family law, legal separation agreement that worked.
A couple of questions and we are rewriting the legal separation agreement.
Can a judge order legal separation?
Family Law Judges in Ocean County can order legal separation. Candidly, courts rely on litigants to settle cases. Fortunately, if your settled case means a legal separation, the court is only too happy to incorporate your agreement in accord order. Essentially, the Family law judges want to know you entered into the agreement voluntarily. Best practices include having the agreement drafted and reviewed by a lawyer.
Is legal separation in Ocean County permanent?
Most times, legal separation is temporary. The relationship is in flux. While, together it is not working. However, someone is not ready for a permanent divorce.
What if we get back together?
Fine. A legal separation in Ocean County is easily reversed. Cancel your agreement – in writing. Or, dismiss your court case.
What if we decide to divorce?
Certainly, a legal separation does not bar pursing divorce, Work done on the legal separation may shape the divorce resolution
So many potential clients ask “is there legal separation in New Jersey?”
Legal separation is a term of art.
Separation inside the home.
Often, clients will tell me they are separated. They mean- Sleeping in separate bedrooms. No Family law judge views “in the house separation” as legal separation in Ocean County or anywhere in New Jersey. Separation means you live under a separate roof.
Some states have very specific laws that deal with legal separation.
In Ocean County, legal separation is a voluntary designation
A couple separate. Married or unmarried it makes no difference for this discussion.
For a married couple they remain married. Legal separation in Ocean County does not trigger the death of the marriage. Many, many couples separate temporarily. The only way to signal publicly that the marriage is dead is to file a complaint for divorce.
We do not want to divorce at this time.
Legal separation by agreement. As opposed to divorce, the spouses agree on a separation plan. Start with child custody and the best interest of the children. Make a parenting plan that deals with day to day parenting time. Don’t forget about vacation and Holiday Parenting Time .
Remember, in legal separation there will not be a court order. Your agreement can be just as binding as if it were a court order, but you cannot enforce it as quickly as if you had a court order and the Family Court Docket number.
We need a court order.
Family Court can help you with your legal separation in ocean County.
You have three options.
File a complaint that has the look and language of a divorce complaint on the grounds of separate maintenance. Its divorce without finality – welcome to family law.
Separate Maintenance is permitted by statute.
It has the unique positioning of permitting the court to address alimony and distribution of debts and assets without the entire divorce process. Separate maintenance is a device to effect legal separation without absolute divorce.
Divorce from bed and board
Bed and board divorce is a form of legal separation in Ocean County. All issues can be addressed – child custody and support, alimony, equitable distribution. issues related to the divorce are all resolved. The main reason for bed and board divorce is so that one spouse can remain on the other spouse’s health insurance.
Under bed and board divorce, you are divorced for all purposes except that you cannot remarry. On future agreement of the parties, the court can convert your legal separation to an actual absolute divorce.
Non-dissolution – FD
Primarily, non dissolution is used for unmarried couples. Married couples can seek relief in the non dissolution docket for issues of child support and child custody. Generally, distribution of assets and alimony is reserved for divorce, or separate maintenance litigation.
Lots of options for Legal Separation in Ocean County.
Related – No Fault Divorce
Related – 1 Roof – Ocean County Family Law
Section 2A:34-23 ….Action For Divorce Or Dissolution.
Universal Citation: NJ Rev Stat § 2A:34-23 (2016)
1.a.Upon filing of a complaint for an action for divorce, dissolution, nullity or separate maintenance, where the custody, visitation or support of a minor child is an issue, the party who has maintained all existing insurance coverage or coverage traditionally maintained during the marriage or civil union, including but not limited to, all health, disability, home or life insurance, shall continue to maintain or continue to share in the cost of maintaining the coverage.
b.If a party who has maintained the existing insurance coverage or has shared in the cost of maintaining the coverage has had a voluntary or involuntary change in employment status, which may cause the existing insurance coverage to terminate, then that party shall notify the other party that it may be necessary to reallocate the financial responsibilities of maintaining the coverage.
c.Upon receipt of this notice, the party may petition the court to reallocate financial responsibilities.
d.The court may take any action it deems appropriate to reallocate financial responsibilities including but not limited to ordering a party to obtain comparable coverage or releasing a party from the obligation or any other order.
L.1997, c.405, s.1; amended 2006, c.103, s.79.