Some couples may consider divorce, but might not be ready to legally end their marriage. They may want to separate for a period to work on their relationship and be free to live their lives separate and apart from each other. Legal separation is an arrangement for a couple to remain married but live apart.

However, establishing two households may not be possible due to the couple’s finances. Additionally, it might be better for the couple’s children if they remained in the same home during their separation.

In-home separation can be the answer. A couple agrees to live separate and apart, but under the same roof. They stop living as a married couple. They live in separate rooms, end intimate relations, and live independently.

New Jersey law does not officially recognize legal separation or in-home separation. However, you are still free to do so if you believe it would benefit you. Nonetheless, you should seek legal advice before moving forward with an in-home separation.

How Do You Legally Separate in New Jersey?

Because New Jersey does not recognize legal separation, you do not need to involve the courts to legally separate. There is no need to file a complaint with the family court or obtain a judge’s permission to separate legally.

However, you and your spouse should negotiate and sign a separation agreement to protect your rights and best interests. A separation agreement addresses many of the issues that a divorce decree would address, including:

A legal separation agreement should also outline how matters will be handled if you reconcile or divorce. Addressing these matters in the separation agreement can reduce conflict should you decide to divorce or get back together.

If you and your spouse intend to remain in the same home during a legal separation, the agreement should also address how to manage household bills during the separation. You can also include household rules and how to manage marital assets.

Even though you are legally separated, you are still married. Therefore, you are legally bound to each other regarding family matters and certain financial obligations until you file for divorce and obtain a divorce decree from the court.

Once a separation agreement is signed by both parties and notarized, it becomes a legally binding contract between the spouses. It is advisable to work with an experienced Begen County legal separation lawyer to negotiate and execute the agreement. An attorney protects your best interests and ensures the separation agreement meets the legal requirements for a binding agreement.

Tips for Successful In-Home Separation in New Jersey

Remaining in the same home during a legal separation can make sense on paper. However, making the arrangement work requires patience and flexibility. Tips for successfully navigating in-home separation include:

  • Both parties must agree to the legal separation. If one spouse honestly does not want to separate, the arrangement will not work.
  • Discuss boundaries and expectations, including what is and is not permitted during the separation. For example, agree that you will not date during in-home separation.
  • Decide how you will tell your children about the separation. A family counselor can help parents handle this delicate matter in a manner that is best for their children’s welfare.
  • Clearly define household responsibilities, such as cooking, cleaning, pet care, and childcare.
  • Separate finances. Each spouse should have a separate bank account and pay their own bills. Determine which spouse is responsible for paying specific household bills and how the other spouse will pay their share.
  • Define a child custody agreement and parenting time as if you were living in separate households. Each parent should participate in parenting responsibilities.
  • When a spouse has “custody” of the children, the other spouse should step back and allow the “custodial” parent to be responsible for the children.
  • Decide how to inform family and friends of the legal separation. Socializing with family and friends together should end or be very limited.
  • Consider working with a family counselor or therapist to help navigate the changes that occur when you decide to begin in-home separation.
  • Hire Bergen County divorce lawyers to negotiate a separation agreement. Each spouse should have their own attorney to represent their interests and provide legal advice.

Even in the best of circumstances, in-home separation can be challenging. Having a comprehensive separation agreement can increase the likelihood that in-home separation will work. If you have questions about in-home separation, consider meeting with a Bergen County separation attorney for a free consultation.

Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help

Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule a free consultation with our team.

Bergen County Law Office
1 University Plaza Dr #400, Hackensack, NJ 07601