If you are considering divorce, but aren’t sure you’re ready to make things so official, you may want to know what other options are available. In New Jersey, an option is available to couples called divorce from bed and board, which is virtually the same procedure as legal separation and is sometimes called a limited divorce. The process including the word divorce is a bit of a misnomer as couples who choose to go this route are still legally married.
Divorce from bed and board arose back when official divorces carried a negative social stigma. While behaviors and opinions regarding divorce have changed over time, there are still many reasons why some people may choose to pursue divorce from bed and board over the traditional (and very final) divorce. Couples may choose to go the separation route due to religious, moral, financial, and many other reasons.
The Divorce From Bed and Board Process in NJ
Married couples in NJ can get a divorce from bed and board in the same way they would go about getting a full divorce, with the caveat that both parties consent. You will remain technically married but living separately. Given this arrangement, you can convert divorce from bed and board to an absolute divorce if that is a decision you decide to make down the line.
Just as in a traditional divorce, a couple can decide themselves how they want to divide assets and debts when they enter into a separation agreement. In situations where there may be some pushback on either side, a mediator can help reach an agreement.
Advantages Over a Traditional Divorce
If you are okay with staying married to your current spouse, and maintain a relatively cordial relationship despite the separation, there are certain benefits to divorce from bed and board over absolute divorce.
- Avoiding the Stress of Divorce – Divorce can be a very taxing process that can drag out for a long time. Legal separation can be a much more moderate affair with less stress and time commitment.
- Religious Reasons – One or both of the parties involved may object to divorce on religious or moral grounds.
- Tax Benefits – Both you and your spouse can still take advantage of marital tax benefits.
- Healthcare and Insurance Benefits – One spouse can remain eligible for the healthcare and insurance benefits of the other. However, sometimes there are clauses that disallow legally separated couples from gaining these benefits, so make sure to check your policy.
- Government Benefits – If one spouse will soon become eligible for their spouse’s government benefits or Social Security, it can be wise to pursue legal separation rather than divorce.
- Leaving the Door Open to Reconciliation – If you feel your situation may improve with some time apart and that future reconciliation is an option you want to keep on the table, legal separation allows that.
- Less Costly – Divorce can get expensive. A legal separation is generally a much cheaper option.
NJ Mediation for Divorce From Bed and Board
Steve B. Menack has been helping New Jersey couples reach separation agreements through a collaborative and positive process for over 25 years. If divorce from bed and board seems like the right course for you and your spouse, do not hesitate to contact us so we can begin the process right away.