While most people seeking a divorce understand that it dissolves the marriage, many are unaware that they can opt for what is known as a “Divorce from Bed and Board.” A Divorce from Bed and Board (known as a “limited divorce”) is when a married couple decide to live separately, generally under the terms of a written agreement which arrangement is sanctioned by the court. With such an arrangement, parties can agree on child custody, distribute assets and debts as well as obtain child support and alimony.
There are various reasons why some couples prefer this option. Most couples opt for it for purely economic reasons. A spouse who is insured under the other’s health insurance plan may be able to continue that coverage with a limited divorce, which would not be allowed if the couple obtained an absolute divorce. However, whether this is feasible depends on the terms of the health insurance plan, which may or may not view such an arrangement as an event which terminates coverage.
Others choose a limited divorce for reasons having nothing to do with finances. Some people feel that divorce has a stigma associated with it that is not attached to a limited divorce. Other couples, for religious reasons, avoid an absolute divorce. Some choose a limited divorce if there is a possibility of reconciling in the future since couples can revoke a limited divorce if they decide to reconcile. Whatever the reason, it’s important to know that under this arrangement, neither party can remarry unless one of them applies to the court for permission to convert the limited divorce into an absolute divorce.
Making the decision to end a marriage is never easy, however, knowing the options available can take away some of the uncertainty and fear.