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Divorce Lite? Divorce from Bed and Board

March 17, 2022

Are you seeking a divorce, but concerned about the societal/financial implications of going through with it? Every year, hundreds of litigants file for divorce, seeking the dissolution of their marriage. Typically, the litigant wants a fresh start, wants to disassociate from their spouse both socially and financially, and wants to move on with their life. Occasionally, the litigant is concerned about issues such as the social stigma of divorcing. Sometimes, they are concerned about what a divorce would do to their children. There can also be financial concerns. The litigant might worry about being removed from her spouse’s health insurance plan once the divorce is finalized and they are no longer married.

For those with such concerns, there is a rarely used remedy called a Divorce from Bed and Board. What is a Divorce from Bed and Board? It is essentially a legal separation that allows the marriage to remain intact. In a Divorce from Bed and Board, issues such as custody of children, child support, alimony and the division of the marital estate can be agreed upon and decided. However, the two spouses remain legally married. This means that one spouse can likely remain on the other spouse’s health insurance policy. In the event of reconciliation, the parties do not have to remarry as the original marriage never ended.

This is precisely what one of our clients was looking for when they sought our services. The client wanted to separate from her spouse. She wanted a custody and child support agreement in place. She wanted to avoid the stigma of divorce for both herself and her children. Finally, she wanted her spouse to be able to remain on her health insurance policy. We were able to secure a Divorce from Bed and Board for the client. Part of the Judgment included a settlement agreement which spelled out the custody arrangements for the children, the child support as well as the division of assets. Even with all of these details worked out and put into a legally binding Judgment, the client remained legally married to her spouse.

There are potential downsides to the Divorce from Bed and Board as well. Since it is not an actual divorce, the litigant must go through the process anew and file a new complaint in the event that she wants an official Divorce. This can be both time consuming and expensive. For this reason, a litigant should think carefully before opting for a Divorce from Bed and Board.

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