legal separation

Divorce or Legal Separation: What’s the Difference?

While divorce represents the legal dissolution of your marriage, a legal separation indicates that you and your spouse are still married but are living separately. A legal separation is a court mandate that outlines the rights and responsibilities that both of you must adhere to while you remain married but live separately.

Legal separations are not common occurrences, but they can be useful in those situations in which a couple needs to work through personal or financial issues that could affect their marriage.

The Process

Much like in a divorce proceeding, the court will make important decisions regarding your situation:

  • Separation Maintenance

Separation Maintenance includes any spousal and/or child support and is usually accomplished by having an attorney draw up a motion pending litigation. The court’s decisions on this separation maintenance will influence what each of you is later awarded should you ultimately seek divorce.

  • Child Custody
  • Child Visitation
  • Property division

Property division during a legal separation is much like the property division that would take place in a divorce and is usually determined by considering what you own as a couple and how it can be equitably – which is different than equally – divided between the two of you.

How Other Kinds of Separation Might Affect Your Property Division

There are different kinds of marital separation – other than legal separation – that might affect your property division:

  • Trial Separation

A trial separation simply refers to that period of time in which you and your spouse live apart while you contemplate your marriage. This form of separation has no legal effect.

  • Living Separately

Living separately refers to those circumstances whereby couples are not living together and have no intention of remaining married. Some states, like New Jersey, also have requirements for living apart before a no-fault divorce can be obtained. Living separately can ultimately affect your property division.

  • Permanent Separation

A permanent separation is when a couple decides to separate permanently. A permanent separation probably won’t have any binding legal effect – unlike a legal separation. Most courts view those properties and debts acquired after a permanent separation as the personal property of each acquiring spouse. Those debts that stem from managing the family are considered joint debts.

Legal separation can be almost as complicated a matter as divorce and should never be entered into lightly or without legal guidance. If you are contemplating either a legal separation or a divorce, contact an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney today.

An Experienced New Jersey Family Law Attorney Can Positively Influence the Outcome of Your Legal Separation

There is too much at stake in any legal separation to try and negotiate it on your own. An experienced New Jersey divorce attorney will help you assess your options and will skillfully fight to ensure that you obtain the best outcome for your case. Contact a skilled attorney with expertise in New Jersey family law by scheduling your consultation with Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman & Stahl, P.C. today. Give us a call at 732-422-1000 or contact us online.