Since New Jersey does not recognize a formal process for legal separation, some couples have obtained a limited divorce, also known as a divorce from bed and board. This process is useful when divorce is not an option due to religious restrictions or economic reasons such as the need for ongoing health insurance coverage through their spouse’s health insurance plan.
With a divorce from bed and board, the parties are economically separated but remain married. A divorce from bed and board is based on the same grounds as a full or absolute divorce. The overall process is identical except at the end of the divorce proceeding, the court will enter a Final Judgment of Divorce from Bed and Board instead of a Final Judgment of Divorce.
With a divorce from bed and board, the parties can enter into a Marital Settlement Agreement resolving all financial issues, including the division of real property, bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, personal property, the allocation of marital debt, and the determination of alimony and child support. Just like a full divorce, if the parties cannot agree, the court will order support and equitable distribution of property. However, unlike an absolute divorce, both parties must agree to a divorce from bed and board. And at any time after the entry of a divorce from bed and board, either party has the right to convert the divorce from bed and board to a full divorce. Since a divorce from bed and board is a limited divorce, neither party may remarry. If either party wishes to remarry, they must petition to the court to have the divorce from bed and board converted to an absolute divorce.
If you have any questions regarding a divorce from bed and board, the experienced attorneys at Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP are here to help you. We are not just available to help you understand the divorce process, but to help you with all questions regarding family law.