Separation precedes divorce

Ending a marriage can be both emotionally and financially challenging. This is just as true for those who have been married a few years as it is for those who have been married a few decades. One question that often arises when two spouses are interested in separating before finally getting a divorce in New Jersey is whether they have to file for separation.

Separation is a process where a married couple starts to live separately, with at least one of them intending to stay separate from the other party. With this arrangement, a couple cannot decide to stay in the same residence but simply live in separate areas of the home. Rather, they must have their own separate residences.

Achieving legal separation is possible without a court order or written agreement. However, documenting the separation date in a written agreement can be helpful. Once the separated parties decide to get divorced after 18 months have passed in New Jersey, one of the spouses can file a complaint, or lawsuit, and this lawsuit must be served on the other party, via a sheriff's deputy or certified mail.

Getting a divorce can be a confusing process from a legal standpoint due to the many steps involved. Being at odds with a future ex over how to handle property division or spousal support, for example, can understandably make matters even more overwhelming. However, an attorney can explain the process and help to ensure that one's best interests are upheld at each stage of this type of family law proceeding.

Source:, "Understand the basics of separation and divorce", Sept. 28, 2017

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