Divorce from Bed & Board

Divorce from bed and board, also known as a “legal separation” or “judicial separation,” is a cause of action available to married persons and is not the same as an absolute divorce. 

A court may award a party a divorce from bed in board if the moving party can prove to a court that their spouse:

  1. Abandoned his or her family;
  2. Maliciously turned the moving party out of doors;
  3. Engaged in cruel or barbarous treatment that endangered the life of the moving party;
  4. Offered such indignities to the person of the moving party as to render the moving party’s condition intolerable or life burdensome;
  5. Becomes an excessive user of drugs or alcohol to the extent that said drug use renders the moving party’s life intolerable or burdensome; or,
  6. Commits adultery.

If the court grants a party a divorce from bed and board, the court can also order the spouse committing fault to leave the marital residence, if they have not already done so. A successful claim for divorce from bed and board can also support claims for post-separation support and/or alimony.

Is a divorce from bed and board the same as an absolute divorce?

No. A divorce from bed and board does not require the parties to be living separate and apart for more than one year. Additionally, a divorce of bed and board does not end a marriage legally.

Why would a person file for divorce from bed and board?

There are any number of plausible reasons; but, there are a few broad reasons to file for a divorce from bed and board. First, a divorce from bed and board allows a party to begin a separation period from their spouse, even if there is no physical violence allegation involved. Oftentimes situations with a physical violence allegation will entitle the victim to file for more immediate relief in the form of a 50(B) Domestic Violence Protective Order. A divorce from bed and board can also be utilized if there is an allegation of child abuse, or sexual misconduct, in relation to minor children in the home, especially if a local Child Protective Services office is involved in your case. Second, if your spouse has committed adultery but refuses to leave the marital home, a successful divorce from bed and board claim can help establish a date of separation for the purposes of a divorce. Finally, some people have religious or moral objections to an absolute divorce, or official termination of the marital bond, and a divorce from bed and board allows the moving party to distance themselves from their spouse without disturbing the religious or moral objection.

When can I file for a divorce from bed and board?

At any time during the marriage when you have a reasonable belief that one of the aforementioned grounds exists.