Many married couples who wish to legally separate rather than file for divorce have various reasons for doing so. Most wish to separate for either religious reasons or for financial benefits, such as continued health insurance coverage. If the couple wishes to later divorce in the state of New Jersey, they must be separated for at least 18 months before being able to file for a no-fault divorce. There is no formal legal proceeding for filing for separation in New Jersey but there are two types of legally binding separation agreements a couple may execute which are a divorce from bed and board agreement and a separation agreement.
Bed and Board
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A divorce from bed and board agreement allows the married couple to stay legally married while becoming financially independent of each other. There are several terms included in the divorce from bed and board agreement such as distribution of assets, property, debts and child support. The court will usually not allow for alimony under this proceeding.
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A separation agreement is created and executed by both spouses to be in legal effect for a predetermined period of time. Couples may have a separation agreement lasting only until the divorce is finalized or indefinitely. This type of agreement will designate which spouse is responsible for the payment of various terms such as child support, alimony, day care expenses, medical bills, health insurance, mortgage, taxes and credit bills.
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There are several benefits to having a separation agreement or a divorce from bed and board agreement such as continued health insurance coverage, property tax discounts, pension benefits and maintaining the family unit. Legally separated couples can still enjoy financial freedom while retaining all the financial benefits of a married couple.