Unlike most states, legal separation isn’t an option for couples in New Jersey. In its place, courts have developed the option of “divorce from bed and board.” Commonly referred to as limited divorce, this hybrid of a separation and a total divorce allows couples to achieve financial separation when their marriage isn’t working.
While limited divorce may seem similar to a traditional divorce, there are crucial distinctions. A couple remains legally married but gains court-approved rights and responsibilities similar to those granted in a divorce.
The legal grounds for bed and board divorce
Specific legal grounds must be established to initiate a bed and board divorce. These grounds often include:
- Adultery: When one spouse engages in extramarital affairs.
- Cruelty: Instances of physical or mental cruelty that make continued cohabitation unbearable.
- Abandonment: If one spouse deserts the other for a specified period.
- Addiction Issues: Substance abuse problems leading to an intolerable living situation.
Filing for a bed and board divorce involves preparing and submitting legal documents to the court. These documents typically include a separation agreement outlining terms related to child custody, spousal support and division of assets.
Once the documentation is submitted, a court hearing is scheduled. During this hearing, both parties present their case, and the court decides whether the grounds for a limited divorce are valid. If approved, the court issues a decree of divorce from bed and board.
Room to reconcile
Unlike a traditional divorce, a bed and board separation allows room for reconciliation. Couples can use this time apart to address issues and work towards rebuilding their relationship. A bed and board divorce is a legal avenue for couples seeking separation without completely terminating their marriage. Understanding the legal grounds, the filing process and the potential implications is crucial for those contemplating this path.