A New Jersey Divorce from Bed and Board, also referred to as a ‘limited divorce’, is a legal process that is similar to the better-known concept of a legal separation. Though there is no such thing has a legal separation in the state of New Jersey, a Divorce from Bed and Board allows a married couple to legally separate themselves from one another financially and live separately without undergoing a full divorce.
What is a Divorce from Bed and Board?
The ‘divorce’ part of the term ‘Divorce from Bed and Board’ is somewhat misleading. A Divorce from Bed and Board is not an absolute ‘divorce’ as we typically think of the term. An absolute divorce is called a ‘Divorce from the Bonds of Matrimony’ in New Jersey. Instead, a Divorce from Bed and Board is a limited form of divorce that is better thought of as a legal status somewhere between married and divorced. The spouses remain technically married and are therefore not free to remarry, but for some financial purposes they are treated as separate. Often, as the name suggests, the couple will live separately.
Why Consider a Divorce from Bed and Board?
There are several reasons a married couple may consider a Divorce from Bed and Board. Religious or moral reasons are very common. Since a Divorce from Bed and Board does not completely sever the marital relationship, it is a better option for those who either cannot or wish to not be fully divorced. The possibility of reconciliation is another popular reason.
Another consideration is the continuation of health insurance coverage. The cost of health insurance is very high under employer-provided family health insurance plans, and is even higher after a couple fully divorces since they no longer qualify for a family plan. Since the couple is still technically married after a Divorce from Bed and Board, they may be able to maintain their health insurance on the same plan.
Result of a Divorce from Bed and Board
Couples who have gone through the process of Divorce from Bed and Board are still technically married. If the spouses reconcile, they may have the Divorce from Bed and Board revoked and continue the marital relationship. If the spouses decide the marriage is over, they may wish to go through the additional process of obtaining an absolute divorce.
A Divorce from Bed and Board is similar to an absolute divorce in that it results in the division of marital assets and debts, otherwise known as the process of equitable distribution, and alimony may be awarded if necessary. A major effect of a Divorce from Bed and Board is that any property that either spouse acquires after filing for a Divorce from Bed and Board is considered separate property and will not be included in the property settlement.
If you are considering a Divorce from Bed and Board, or have any other questions about divorce, call Peter Van Aulen at 201 845-7400 for a free initial consultation to discuss your options.