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Divorce from Bed and Board

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What Does It Mean to Divorce from Bed and Board?

“Divorce from Bed and Board” is a type of limited divorce that is available as an option in the state of New Jersey. Essentially, divorce from bed and board is the same as a legal separation in other states, except New Jersey has chosen to retain the more traditional term of “bed and board.” In such a filing, the couple remains legally married but is considered separate in many respects, especially when it comes to certain financial matters.

Legal separation laws can vary by state. Thus, New Jersey’s divorce from bed and board laws may contain slightly different details than other state laws. Some couples may choose to file under bed and board laws in order to take advantage of certain legal classifications, or for other reasons such as religious reasons.

What Are Some Legal Consequences of Filing for Divorce from Bed and Board?

The procedure for filing for divorce from bed and board is essentially the same as that of a regular divorce. However, there are some very different legal consequences associated with bed and board divorces. These include:

  • Any property accumulated after the filing will not be considered marital property (although the couple is still considered married)
  • The couple can still hold property jointly if it was acquired before the filing; however, the court will usually change the ownership status from “tenants in the entirety” to “tenants in common”
  • Alimony (spousal support) may available
  • Can sometimes continue to benefit of the other party’s health insurance and other benefits
  • Wills/inheritance rights may still be intact

Thus, one of the main reasons why a couple might file for divorce from bed and board is to be able to continue receiving benefits based off the other party’s insurance or work benefits. The filing would however allow them to live financially separate lives.

Are There Any Alternatives to Divorce from Bed and Board?

In some cases regular, full divorce may be simpler than filing for a divorce from bed and board. This is because the couple may have very specific instructions or requests regarding certain legal or financial issues. They may just wish to follow New Jersey’s guidelines for full divorces. Alternatively, the couple can draft their own written agreement which can govern the specific terms that they want for property, insurance, etc. That way, they can tailor the contract to their exact needs and requirements.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Divorce from Bed and Board Filings?

Filing for divorce from bed and board is a major decision. You may wish to hire a qualified family law attorney if you need help filing for divorce from bed and board. Your lawyer can provide you with advice and legal guidance to help you determine whether it is beneficial to file for such as status. Also, your lawyer can be on hand to represent you during property negotiations, court hearings, and other meetings.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 04-08-2015 12:50 PM PDT

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