Is Legal Separation Better Than Divorce in New Jersey?

Of all the U.S. states, New Jersey has the second-lowest divorce rate. But part of the reason divorce rates are low is that some people opt for legal separation.

Similarities Between Divorce and Separation

In many ways, separation and divorce are similar. Both create a legal boundary between spouses. Moreover, judges can assign child support and spousal support in both circumstances. Plus, under both divorces and legal separations, couples can start the process of dividing marital assets.

Main Difference Between Divorce and Separation

The main difference between divorce and separation is that the former is a formal dissolution of marriage that cannot be undone. Conversely, under a legal separation, estranged spouses can live apart and maintain separate finances while remaining married in the eyes of the law. However, people who choose separation cannot tie the proverbial knot with another person.

Why Do Some People Choose Separation Over Divorce?

There are three main reasons couples choose legal separation over divorce in New Jersey: personal beliefs, finances, and flexibility.

Personal beliefs about the permanence of marriage are most often at the root of long-term separation agreements. Separation allows both parties to live on their own, but the marriage technically remains intact. If “till death do us part” is not a vow you’re willing to break but you’ve also grown irrevocably apart from the person with whom you made the pact, then legal separation could be the best solution.

The second most popular reason for choosing legal separation instead of divorce is money. Many people — especially those over the age of 50 — want or need to maintain Social Security and pension benefits with the person they’ve coupled with for decades. These folks usually have no interest in finding another spouse. Instead, they make a practical decision to retain the financial advantages that marriage affords while living separate lives. In these cases, both parties agree that the mutual benefits of remaining financially linked outweigh the option of remarrying.

Situations can grow fraught when one party wants to remarry and sever all ties, but the other party does not. At times like these, it is wise to enlist a qualified family law attorney.

Flexibility is another reason to choose legal separation. Many New Jersey divorces take time to negotiate and complete. By first executing a legal separation, it gives both parties the space they need while attorneys hammer out a deal.

In other scenarios, people use legal separations as a divorce divining tool. In essence, they take the time to date each other and other people. If a couple chooses to reunite, a legal separation is reversible, unlike a formal divorce.

Other reasons for choosing legal separation include

  • Location complications
  • Child considerations
  • Medical and insurance reasons
  • State requirements

A Note About Trial Separations

Before moving forward with a full-on legal separation, many couples do a trial separation. What some people don’t realize, however, is that there’s nothing legal about a trial separation. Moving into different abodes doesn’t automatically sever your finances. Nor is it viewed as a declaration of any kind. After all, loads of happily married couples live apart for various reasons. A formal separation requires a court declaration.

Finding the Right New Jersey Family Law Attorney

People may try to convince themselves otherwise, but divorces are difficult and complicated — on both logistical and emotional levels. Sure, everyone may get along, but the actual process of negotiating and fulfilling state-mandated requirements is stressful.

That’s why it’s best to have an experienced and compassionate advocate working on your behalf.

The Cherry Hill, NJ, divorce lawyers at Morgenstern & Rochester have the knowledge and know-how needed to ensure the best possible outcome for your circumstances. If you’re in search of the right New Jersey family law attorney, get in touch with us today via our website, or give us a call at (856) 489-6200. We’ll chat about your situation and go from there. Over the years, our attorneys have developed unorthodox solutions for countless Garden State residents. Let’s do the same for you.