What are the pros and cons of a legal separation?

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Tensions from a variety of different sources can often put a great deal of strain on your marriage, so much so that you may even be considering following the lead of others in Hackensack and getting a divorce. Yet there is another alternative to consider if you or your spouse feels uneasy or unsure about taking the big of a step: a legal separation. Countless others have taken such action; in fact, U.S. Census Bureau data shared by the site brokenheartonhold.com shows that as many as 3 percent of all American adults may be separated from their marriage partners.

You may be wondering whys you should consider a legal separation as opposed to a divorce. There may actually be a number of pros to going this route initially (other than offering you and your spouse the chance to see if such action offers time and perspective that may help solve your martial issues). It gives you and your spouse the freedom to come up with your own agreement regarding matters such as maintenance, child custody and support, as well as asset division. If you cannot come to an agreement on your own, you can petition a state family court to rule on such matters without seeking a divorce (even though New Jersey has no formal legal separation process).

Conversely, one of the problems that a legal separation may present is that it may give your spouse the added opportunity to hide assets and property from you (or incur more debt). If this happens, and you then subsequently decide to get a divorce, you may end up being put in a precarious financial position.

These points underscore the need to contemplate this decision thoroughly, and to work with your spouse (if possible) to find an outcome that would benefit you both.  


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