While some states do allow couples to file for a legal separation, New Jersey is not one of them. However, there are two other procedures that can be used to accomplish a similar outcome. One is known as a Complaint for Separate Maintenance, and the other is a Complaint for Divorce from Bed and Board.
A Complaint for Separate Maintenance is used when a couple wish to maintain the marital status but allow one spouse to file for child or spousal support from the other. It does not address any other marriage issues such as distribution of assets.
A Complaint for Divorce from Bed and Board is filed when both parties agree to maintain separate households while still married. Its main purpose is to allow time for tempers and emotions to calm in hopes that a marital settlement agreement can be reasonably negotiated in the future. In layman’s terms, it is simply a “time-out.” All property rights are set with the filing of this type of complaint, but issues such as child custody, visitation, and spousal support may still be negotiated. A Complaint for Divorce from Bed and Board can be converted into a full divorce settlement at a later time. In addition, some religions do not believe in divorce, but do accept spousal separation. Therefore, this type of complaint allows them a way to live separately while still holding to their own personal beliefs.
Divorce may be filed in the state of New Jersey under a number of reasons. However, if a divorce is filed on the grounds of separation, the parties must have been separated for a minimum of 18 months prior to the filing date. An experienced divorce attorney can help determine which separation or divorce option is the best fit for your situation.