Separation Agreements in New Jersey
If your marriage is in trouble, but you are not ready to call it quits, you can enter into a separation agreement. There’s no requirement that you file anything with or obtain any approvals from a court to put a separation agreement in place. The agreement can be prepared by either party or by an attorney. In addition, you can work with a family law mediator to establish the terms of a separation agreement. To be valid, though, it must be signed by both parties in the presence of a notary.
The Terms of a Separation Agreement
Most often, a separation agreement is the first step toward divorce. Accordingly, the separation agreement will customarily contain provisions governing child custody and visitation, child and spousal support and the use and possession of marital property. In addition, though, a separation agreement may establish rights and obligations regarding:
- Day care expenses
- Payment of medical insurance or medical bills
- Payment of household expenses, including mortgage and taxes
- Tax filings and returns
- Vehicle payments
- Credit card obligations
Divorce from Bed and Board
In New Jersey, there’s an old and mostly outdated legal proceeding known as “divorce from bed and board.” Essentially, this refers to a situation where the parties remain married, but are separated economically. Assets and debts are divided, support may be ordered, but the parties remain married. This arrangement is customarily put in place to allow one party to remain as the beneficiary of the other spouse’s insurance policy.
Challenging a Separation Agreement
A separation agreement is a contract and is governed by contract law. Accordingly, a party may contest the validity of a separation agreement by arguing that:
- The terms of the agreement are unconscionable—it’s not a fair distribution of marital property and debt
- One of the parties lacked capacity at the time the agreement was signed, either because of mental disability, intoxication or age
- One of the parties entered into the agreement under duress or coercion, or undue influence
- One of the parties misrepresented the terms or obligations in the agreement, or perpetrated a fraud on the other party
Contact Freeman Hughes Freeman, LLC
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