Heymann & Fletcher

Address these family law issues prior to separation

When a New Jersey couple is going through marital troubles, one option is to try a period of separation. This can be a good move for many couples, and it gives spouses a chance to think things through before they make a decision on whether to move forward with divorce or work on their marriage and reconcile. However, spouses should make the terms of their separation very clear at the onset, and they should consider several family law issues prior to the separation.

Even when a couple hopes that the separation will lead to a reconciliation, there are protections that should be put into place from the onset. For one, both spouses need to have a comprehensive understanding of the full scope of their family finances. That gives both parties the information needed to move forward with a divorce, if that is the eventual outcome. It also draws a clear line in the sand in terms of existing assets and debts, which reduces the risk of any major financial changes during the course of the separation.

Couples should also have an attorney draft a separation agreement that outlines the agreed-upon terms. This process will create a clear timeline for when the parties separated, which can be very important if a divorce follows. For example, excessive debt that is taken on by one spouse during a separation can be considered as personal, and not marital, debt. If assets are depleted, then the party who is responsible can be called to task during divorce negotiations.

Having an attorney assist with separation matters does not indicate a clear path toward divorce. Rather, it gives both New Jersey spouses an understanding of what is expected from the separation period, as well as an overview of financial standing. Many couples will reunite after a separation and go on to have a long and fulfilling marriage. For those who do end up divorcing, the separation agreement can make many family law issues far easier to manage.

Source: Forbes, "Dos And Dont's Of Marital Separation", Jeff Landers, April 4, 2017

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