Divorce from Bed and Board in New Jersey is somewhat of an antiquated process that was extremely popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s because at that time, divorce was not viewed as socially acceptable. There is a saying, “that everything that is old is new again” and based upon the trends I have been seeing in my mediation practice, I would say that the “Bed and Board” Divorce is back in fashion. This seems to be a viable option for couples who are entering into what’s been called a “Gray Divorce”-divorcing later in life, after the children are grown.
So, what is a Divorce from Bed and Board? It translates rather literally, the couple no longer lives together, hence the couple no longer sleeps together. So what is the difference between a “bed and board” divorce and a “regular” divorce?
First, I think it’s important to know that in the state of New Jersey there is no such thing as a “Legal Separation”. The idea that couples can enter into this type of a binding agreement that states they will no longer be financially responsible for one another and have split their assets simply doesn’t exist. There are states, New York for example, where “legal separation” would be the first step taken before actual divorce proceedings.
Once a divorce is finalized in New Jersey, spouses no longer have access to the other’s healthcare benefits. Individuals left without insurance upon a divorce, can of course apply for COBRA for a limited time.
Divorce from Bed and Board provides couples with an option to file for divorce in New Jersey, separate their assets and liabilities, live apart, while maintaining beneficiary rights to their former spouses health insurance.
So, what’s the catch? Well, there are two. First, both parties must agree to file for this type of divorce. The second, should one of the parties wish to remarry, the Bed and Board Divorce would need to be modified, thus eliminating the benefits to the former spouse. The modification from a Bed and Board Divorce to a Traditional Divorce requires only a simple and inexpensive filing.
For many older couples deciding to divorce, Bed and Board can be a great option. In cases where one spouse is ill and doesn’t have access to medical insurance but no longer wishes to be married, bed and board can also be a viable alternative.
A Bed and Board divorce works best when couples can be civil to one another and have good communication. I guess the old adage about fashion is true, “What’s old is new again” and it can be said for divorce too.
Roseann Vanella is a Professional Family Mediator & Founder of Advanced Mediation Solutions serving New Jersey, Pennsylvania & New York. She is also the weekly radio host of Family Affaires on WTER and has Co Founded FamilyAffaires.com an online resource dedicated to families going through life changes.