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Is legal separation an alternative to divorce in New Jersey?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce is a life-changing decision, and for some, it may not be the answer to marital issues. If you are a resident of New Jersey navigating the complexities of such a decision, it’s worth exploring all your options, especially if your marriage is not working, but you have reasons not to seek the finality of divorce.

Understanding divorce from bed and board

In New Jersey, while there’s no formal process titled ‘legal separation’ for married couples, there is a similar concept known as “divorce from bed and board,” also referred to as a limited divorce. This could be a viable alternative for those who, for various reasons, are hesitant to pursue a complete divorce.

Reasons to consider divorce from bed and board might include:

  • Religious beliefs that discourage divorce
  • Desire to remain married for financial reasons, such as insurance benefits
  • The hope for reconciliation in the future

The process and implications of a limited divorce

Opting for a divorce from bed and board in New Jersey can be initiated on the same grounds as an absolute divorce. However, this process requires the consent of both parties and has unique consequences. Couples remain legally married, meaning neither spouse can remarry unless they convert the limited divorce into a final divorce. Should the couple reconcile, they can have the judgment revoked, unlike after an absolute divorce, where they would need to remarry.

Property, debts, and alimony considerations

Just like in an absolute divorce, issues of property division, debt responsibilities, and alimony are addressed during a divorce from bed and board. Spouses can agree on how to divide their marital property and debts through a settlement agreement. If an agreement isn’t reached, the court will decide based on equitable distribution rules. Alimony may be awarded if the court deems it appropriate.

Seeking professional guidance

The decision between legal separation and divorce is deeply personal and can be emotionally charged. An experienced divorce attorney can provide clarity and compassion as they guide you through your options. They can help you understand the nuances of divorce from bed and board and assist in determining the best path for your unique circumstances.