Lester v. Lester
A court may convert a legal separation into a legal divorce, provided that the terms of the separation are just. In 2005, a court entered a judgment of legal separation and ordered the defendant husband to pay $184 per week as alimony and $116 per week as child support for the parties' minor child. In 2013, the plaintiff wife filed a motion to convert the separation decree into a divorce. There was no evidence that the parties resumed marital relations after the 2005 judgment of legal separation. The parties' child reached the age of majority, and child support payments ceased. The defendant husband lost his job and asked the court to consider whether the 2005 judgment remains fair and equitable. The wife lost her job and claimed that the husband's alimony permits her to just about break even. In Meeks v. Meeks, a 2013 decision, Judge Gerard Adelman wrote that he would review the separation and consider whether converting its terms into a dissolution decree would be unconscionable and unjust. Relying on the Meeks standard, the court was not persuaded that the terms of the legal separation were unconscionable or unjust, and it granted the wife's request to convert the separation into a divorce, pursuant to the terms of the separation decree.