I have previously written about how New Jersey has no legal separation for married partners. I have also written about some alternatives for those who wish to be separated but do not wish to pursue a divorce.
Both of those blog posts touched upon the concept of "New Jersey Divorce from Bed and Board." However, they did not go that far into depth as that was not the central topic of either of those articles.
Increasingly, clients and prospective clients have been asking me about Divorce from Bed and Board. Although at one time it appeared Divorce from Bed & Board would soon be extinct, it has become increasingly vital as those older than sixty consider divorce but hope to not lose their health benefits. However, Divorce from Bed & Board is not just for those contemplating a "gray" or senior divorce.
Let's now turn our attention to what is a "Divorce from Bed and Board," what are the potential pros and cons of pursuing one in New Jersey, and whether or not they will remain vital in the years to come.
Divorce from Bed & Board
New Jersey does recognize “Divorce from Bed & Board.” An interesting aspect of this type of "divorce" is that it bars the parties from being able to remarry. That is one of the primary reasons that this type of legal action is not pursued in divorces involving younger parties. However, it is relatively straightforward to convert a Divorce From Bed & Board into a final or absolute divorce (what we commonly think of as simply a "divorce") in New Jersey, so remarriage may be less of an important consideration than many believe.
Those that are divorced from bed and board are essentially considered legally divorced in most ways but may be able to remain on each other’s medical insurance. Indeed, this medical insurance element is the most important aspect of this somewhat rare class of divorce. Again, this may be a particularly useful tool for those who are older and considering a divorce given the quality of many state health insurance plans.
Otherwise, the negotiation, procedural process, cost and expense of finalizing a Divorce from Bed and Board is basically the same as for a traditional divorce.
A Divorce From Bed & Board will have the same pleading process as well. A party will generally file for it as a second count to a divorce complaint. It should be noted that in order to move forward on a divorce from bed and board both parties must agree and consent to it before the court. This is different from a traditional divorce where only one party needs to be desiroius of obtaining the divorce. In other words, traditionally a divorce in New Jersey will go forward even if one party does not wish to be divorced.
Another important consideration is that this carve-out creates added costs for companies. It is more expensive to carry health insurance for two people rather than one. Normally, a company will cease paying health insurance the day a divorce is finalized and the other spouse will only be able to obtain COBRA health insurance at their own cost.
As Divorce From Bed & Board has increased in popularity, many companies have closed loopholes in their health insurance and will not provide health insurance regardless of what a court order may state. To that end, it is important in any divorce considering divorce from bed and board to reach out to the government entity/company providing health insurance to see if they would honor such a divorce.
Finally, some people have told me they wish to pursue a divorce from bed and board as almost a form of annulment, and often for religious reasons. This is rare and has no real legal importance, but divorce is very personal for those involved and I thought it worth noting.
It is best to speak with a lawyer if you are contemplating separation, divorce, or a divorce from bed and board. Our firm offers consults to help you learn how separation and/or divorce of any type may impact the important elements of your life. Call 908-237-3096 today to schedule a consult with our office.