How to File for Legal Separation in New Jersey

By Jennifer Williams

Dissolving a marriage is an emotionally draining process even when both spouses are on board. It may be easier to handle the break in stages, with separation serving as an interim step before moving straight to full-fledged divorce. Many states, such as California, have statutes that provide for legal separation and detail the responsibilities of both spouses and the courts during the process. Unfortunately, New Jersey doesn't make it so easy. While there is no legal separation statute in New Jersey, there are alternatives that allow separating spouses to set out their respective obligations and provide for court enforcement.

Step 1

Negotiate the terms of separation, such as spousal support and property division. If there are minor children of the marriage, include a parenting plan that specifies residential custody, a visitation schedule and child support. Draw up the terms of this settlement agreement and execute the document as you would any other contract. Approval by a New Jersey court is not necessary, but should either spouse fail to hold up their end of the bargain, the other spouse may sue for breach of contract.

Step 2

File a complaint with the New Jersey Superior Court as an alternative to negotiating a separation agreement. In contrast with a negotiated separation agreement, a complaint is written and filed by one spouse on her own. A complaint is necessary when the spouses cannot agree on the terms of separation. In a complaint, one spouse asks the court to grant her a specific amount of spousal and child support, and award her possession of specific property. If the other spouse disagrees with any of the requests made in the complaint, he files an answer. The answer states which requests are unacceptable. Once the court receives the answer, a hearing is held.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Step 3

Attend mediation if the court orders it. Mediation is where a licensed mediator acts as intermediary and facilitates further negotiation and, hopefully, ultimate agreement on the contested issues. If an agreement is still out of reach, another hearing is held in which the judge questions each spouse. If the judge has enough information to make a decision, he issues a ruling that decides the issues. If the judge does not have enough information, he may order discovery in the form of financial statements, interrogatories and even depositions. Another hearing is scheduled, at which time the information collected by the discovery process is examined and, if the court deems necessary, testimony is taken. At this time, the court decides the remaining issues for the spouses.

Step 4

Obtain a formal "Divorce from Bed and Board" as an alternative if you and your spouse agree on the support and property issues and want a permanent resolution to your relationship without formally divorcing. File a joint Petition for Divorce from Bed and Board that sets out your agreement as to support and property division, much like a negotiated separation agreement. A hearing will be held where a judge questions both of you to make sure the divorce from bed and board is what each of you wants. Once satisfied, the court will approve the arrangement.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Uncontested Divorce in Illinois
 

References

Related articles

Procedures for an Amicable Divorce in Maryland

Maryland offers an amicable divorce process for couples who can agree on all the terms of their divorce. This is known as an uncontested divorce and eliminates the need to prove that one spouse was the cause of the marriage's collapse. Further, by drafting separation or divorce agreements, parties to an uncontested divorce have more control over the terms of their divorce, avoiding the uncertainty in having these matters decided by a judge.

Divorce Process in Georgia

Georgia state laws govern the process of divorce. The state has adopted “no-fault” divorce, meaning you do not need specific grounds to file a divorce petition, other than a claim that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” A hearing in civil court will be necessary, however, and the state also has residency requirements for couples seeking a divorce.

What Happens in a Divorce Mediation in Miami, Florida?

Peace is to war what mediation is to litigation. When you or your spouse files for divorce in Miami, you have the option of fighting it out in court or working it out in a cooperative fashion. Working it out can save you money and lessen the emotional damage that often results from a contested divorce. Accordingly, the Miami-Dade County courts frequently order mediation before trial to give the parties a chance to come to an agreement they both find satisfactory. If you are required to mediate, or request mediation, the mediation division of the county court system will supply an in-house mediator, although you are free to ask for your own private mediator, pending approval by your spouse.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to File for Divorce in Virginia Without a Lawyer

A divorce can be a complex, expensive and emotionally trying process. If there is a dispute between you and your spouse ...

How Long to Get a Divorce in Illinois?

Although Illinois technically has a 90-day waiting period for divorce, this is deceptive. The three-month period ...

Procedures for a Legal Separation & Divorce in Illinois

Illinois law recognizes legal separation, although not all states do. Legal separations are somewhat rare in the state, ...

How to Become Legally Separated From a Spouse

In most states, a legal separation means a couple is bound by a court order outlining the terms of their separation. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED