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Planning Ahead for a Marital Separation


Cartoon Man and Woman holding a Divorce paperWhile less permanent than a divorce, deciding to separate from your husband or wife is still a serious decision, and one that typically comes after a stressful period of mounting discord in your home. A period of separation will be more successful and less painful if you take some time to plan a separation that will protect your interests and those of your children.

Below, find some suggestions for a period of separation, and speak with a New Jersey family law attorney with any family law questions you may have.

1. Agree on how you will handle joint accounts and bills

While you’re living apart from your spouse but before you’re divorced, you will continue to share bank accounts, credit cards, and financial responsibilities with your spouse. You will need to make decisions regarding how any joint bills will be paid, or joint funds spent, while you’re separated.

2. Treat your spouse with respect

The choice to separate tends to come at a time when you’ve reached the end of your rope with your spouse. It can be difficult to remain civil, but the beginning of a separation is an important time to set a respectful and cooperative tone between yourself and your spouse. Whether or not you have hope for a reconciliation, you will still need to communicate with your spouse on a regular basis until a divorce is final. This respectful tone is even more critical if you share children with your spouse.

3. Set out clear goals for your separation

If you are using a separation as a period to determine whether your marriage can be saved, then be sure that you and your spouse are on the same page in terms of what changes you want in order to continue the marriage. Consider setting an objective, measurable goal for the separation period that addresses an area of conflict in the relationship, such as attending a certain number of counseling sessions with your spouse, or the completion of a treatment program by a certain date.

4. Consider seeking professional counseling

Independent of any couples’ counseling you and your spouse have sought, consider seeking your own individual counseling during a separation. Separation is a stressful event under even the best of circumstances, and it can be productive to seek a professional’s help in deciding whether or not you wish to end your marriage permanently, or in working through issues that are interfering with the success of your relationship.

5. Create a separation agreement

Creating a separation agreement can provide peace of mind to you and your spouse that neither of you will take advantage of the other financially during a separation, that bills will be paid, and that you or your spouse will receive the financial support you need during the separation. A separation agreement provides a way for you and your spouse to agree to a visitation schedule, alimony, and child support that will apply during the separation, as well as any other terms you wish to include.

If you are facing a divorce, separation, or child custody dispute in New Jersey, get help from attorneys you can trust to provide you with effective and compassionate representation, and contact the Englewood lawyers at Herbert & Weiss for a consultation, at (201) 500-2151, with additional offices in Englewood.

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