Bed and Board Divorce
Are you looking at obtaining a divorce in NJ, but feel hesitant about it? Do you think as there is still a possibility of reconciliation between you and your spouse? Maybe religion is a big influence in your life, or perhaps you or your spouse are heavily reliant on the other’s health insurance coverage? Unlike in other states, legal separation is not available in New Jersey. If you are unsure whether to obtain a full and finalized divorce, a divorce from bed and board in NJ is the option if you are wanting a separation first. Also known as partial, limited, or qualified divorce, this does not completely sever the marital bond. New Jersey Statutes Annotated 2A:34-3 specifically allows a bed and divorce if you can show the following:
Whenever both parties request a divorce from bed and board, and they can demonstrate adequate verification of certain grounds which would warrant a judgment for a full dissolution of marriage. If the parties obtain a divorce from bed and board, they shall not be prejudiced from applying in the future for a full dissolution of marriage, such that it severs the bonds of matrimony. Such a request shall be approved of by the court as a matter of right.
Therefore, it can be gleaned from the pertinent laws that while the spouses can obtain a judgment listing out the use and possession of on their respective properties including benefits, pensions and even debts, the bonds of matrimony remain intact. The effect is similar as that of legal separation available in other jurisdictions. Additionally, if either of the spouses acquires property after the judgment, then their spouse is not entitled to an interest in said properties. If your spouse wins the lottery after a judgment for bed and board divorce, you do not stand to receive any interest in this property, unfortunately. The same principle holds true where a deceased spouse has left nothing in his or her will for the spouse to inherit. So, unfortunately, if a spouse dies and has excluded their spouse, then the survivor has no standing to make a claim against the other party’s estate, which is probably the biggest inconvenience in getting a divorce from bed and board.
It must be noted, however, that a bed and board divorce in New Jersey cannot be granted where only one of the spouses requests it. Both spouses must agree to petition the court for such a judgment. It is better for the spouses to fully agree on the use and division of property at the outset. It saves time, money and is a great way to determine whether or not this sort of separation will be workable in the event the couple decides to more permanently part ways.
A bed and board divorce is not absolute. If the spouses have a change of heart and decide to reconcile with each other, they are not precluded from revoking the judgment of a bed and board divorce. On the other hand, should either of the parties intend to obtain an absolute divorce they may do so by filing an application for an absolute divorce.
Sometimes, ‘trying on’ a bed and board divorce can be a great option for couples who are unsure if they want to call it quits on the marriage. It is attractive for parties who might be battling a temporary but acute illness and need to rely on their partner’s health insurance benefits. For parties who are completely ready to move on, then it might not be a great option. The marriage will still be intact, even after a judgment of divorce from bed and board.
You want to make sure that a divorce from bed and board is right for you. Peter Van Aulen is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a matrimonial attorney. He has over 22 years of experience as a divorce and family law attorney. He has successfully handled many divorces throughout his career. His office is located in Saddle Brook New Jersey. For any questions on bed and board divorce in NJ, you can contact the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a free initial consultation at 201-845-7400.