Robin Jill Schneider - Robin Jill Schneider

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Knowing the differences between divorce and legal separation

There may be a multitude of scenarios in which married couples in New Jersey or elsewhere could choose to take separate paths in life. While in many cases, a couple may feel that dissolving the marriage is the healthiest path, some may choose to take time apart by seeking a legal separation. Prior to making such a major life decision, understanding some of the differences between a legal separation and a divorce could prove imperative.

One of the differences between a legal separation and a divorce pertains to the impact on health care and retirement benefits. During a legal separation, a person may retain access to certain benefits that could otherwise be terminated once a divorce is finalized. Financial liabilities may also be a vital aspect to consider, as in some scenarios, any debts accumulated by either party during a legal separation could still be deemed marital property.

As a legal separation doesn’t alter one’s marital status, each party may retain the right to make decisions on the other person’s behalf should the need arise. In a similar arrangement, the parties involved may also retain legal rights to various property benefits should the other person pass away. Alternatively, a person may no longer be considered next of kin once a divorce is finalized, and his or her ownership rights to certain assets may also be extinguished.

Understanding the potential advantages and disadvantages of the available options can be helpful in choosing a path, but it can also be a challenging task. Those who wish to obtain guidance on the differences between a divorce and a legal separation could find it helpful to speak with a family law attorney early on for advice. An attorney in New Jersey can help a client better prepare to make informed choices about the situation and subsequently assist him or her in navigating the process.