Divorce Versus Divorce From Bed and Board

Making the decision to get divorced is an enormous one, and it deserves long and careful consideration. Before making such a life-altering choice, many couples decide to have a period of separation, wherein they live apart and consider their next steps. In some states it is possible to obtain a legal separation, but this is not an option in New Jersey for married couples. There is, however, the possibility to obtain what is sometimes referred to as a limited divorce or a divorce from bed and board.

To request a divorce from bed and board, the requesting spouse must file a petition with the court, just as he or she would in the case of a full divorce. Unlike a divorce, however, the parties must both agree to the process. In other words, one partner cannot force the other to have a divorce from bed and board. The procedure allows the couple to remain married, although living apart. It provides an avenue by which the court can order a division of assets and debts, as well as bills and support. If the parties cannot come to an agreement on the division or support, the court will make a decision for the parties. As the couple is still married, neither party may get remarried.

A main advantage to divorce from bed and board as opposed to a full divorce is health insurance. When couples obtain a full divorce, the spouses cannot remain on each other’s health insurance plan. However, when the parties have a divorce from bed and board, they are still technically married. Accordingly, it is possible to continue health insurance coverage for both spouses. (This must be confirmed with the insurance carrier though). Considering the high cost of health insurance premiums in today’s health care market, this can be a big advantage, especially if one of the parties has extensive health care needs.

At any point during the divorce from bed and board, one party may request that the proceeding be converted into a full divorce. The requesting party will need to file extra paperwork and may have to pay additional fees for court costs and service on the other party. Conversely, if the parties decide to reconcile, they may apply to the court to set aside the order that confirmed their divorce from bed and board.

There are many choices to be made both during and before a divorce begins. If you want to discuss the differences between divorce and divorce from bed and board, call us today at (732) 529-6937 to talk about your case. We have helped many clients consider their options.

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