Pursuing divorce is an important decision that will impact various aspects of your life. The impact is most significantly felt emotionally and financially. Ensure you understand your legal rights when you go through divorce and the options available through the North Carolina divorce law. One of the options you can pursue is to file for a divorce from bed and board NC.
What is Divorce from Bed and Board NC?
A divorce from bed and board NC is a form of legal separation instead of an absolute divorce. Therefore, it does not dissolve your marriage, and you are not legally allowed to remarry.
The court will issue this order for legal separation to allow a couple to stay legally married without cohabitation. This order does not apply to every situation and is only approved based on limited circumstances. The spouse pursuing a divorce must show proof of serious fault by their ex-spouse before the court grants this order.
Based on the North Carolina statute for divorce, a judge will order a legal separation (instead of absolute divorce) under the following circumstances.
You must be able to show proof of any of the following situations: 1) that the spouse abandoned your residence at their own free will, 2) that they were not forced out of your residence, 3) that they have no intent of cohabiting, and 4) that the complaining spouse did not provoke the other to leave.
You must prove that your spouse has committed adultery to qualify for a bed and board divorce.
- Excessive Substance Abuse
You can qualify for a bed and board divorce if your spouse abuses alcohol and uses drugs excessively. It should be at the point wherein their abuse becomes intolerable and causes a burden to your marriage.
- Cruel Treatment
Any form of violence and cruelty can be grounds for legal separation in North Carolina.
- Malicious Eviction
You could file for legal separation if your ex-spouse forced you out of the house.
- Public Humiliation
Any act that has caused public humiliation to your ex-spouse can be grounds for a bed and board divorce in NC.
The above circumstances make it difficult for the couple to live together. Therefore, the court can grant the petition for a divorce from bed and board in NC.
This fault-based approach to divorce is different from the no-fault absolute divorce. You do not need to provide any valid reason for filing a divorce with the latter. Under NC law, you must live separately for at least a year to file for divorce.
The Pros and Cons of Bed and Board Divorce in NC
Should you go for absolute divorce or opt for bed and board divorce? This list of pros and cons will help you decide the best option to take for your marriage moving forward.
Pros of Bed and Board Divorce
- It provides couples the option to live independently from each other. This living setup ensures that you can be physically and financially separate.
- It allows couples to spend time away from each other instead of being forced into a hostile environment. This time away will allow them to reflect on the future of the marriage or resolve their issues. The law also believes that this space will offer couples a chance to gain a new perspective on what they stand to lose, if they pursue a divorce.
- It is a good option for people who follow a specific religion that does not support the idea of divorce. Legal separation is a more favorable option for the couple.
- It allows you to enjoy the financial benefits you share as a couple, such as filing your tax returns jointly as a married couple.
- For foreign nationals or non-citizens who opt not to divorce (but are legally separated), you get to stay in the country instead of risking being deported.
Cons of Bed and Board Divorce
- You won’t be able to remarry because the official status of your marriage is legal separation.
- The settlement agreements on child support, child custody, spousal support, and distribution of assets might be more contentious.
- The court will not grant the divorce unless one of the spouses requests or consents to it.
Why Consider Bed and Board Divorce in NC?
There are various reasons couples want to pursue the bed and board divorce. The most common reason is to escape the hostile living situation that they were previously in. The physical and legal separation saves you from great stress if you are forced to live with each other.
It is a good option for couples who are not set on finalizing their divorce yet. Living separately allows each party to assess the current situation and how they want to move forward.
How to Obtain a Bed and Board Divorce in NC?
One of the spouses must request and initiate the filing of the bed and board divorce. You can also ask your attorney to file it on your behalf. Usually, the “injured” party or the one that suffered a great deal of damage from the marriage or cohabitation files for this type of divorce.
Since this is a fault-based divorce, the burden falls on the spouse who filed for the divorce to show proof of the offense. You can present evidence based on any of the above-listed circumstances. This process is when you can benefit from the services of an experienced attorney since they can facilitate gathering and presenting that evidence to the court.
When Should You Pursue Absolute Divorce Instead?
Every marriage is unique. Therefore, couples go through different problems throughout their relationship.
Pursuing absolute divorce instead of the bed and board divorce is a matter of personal choice and your current circumstances. If your goal is to be able to remarry, then you should get a divorce. A divorce is also a good option if your spouse is a gambler or someone dealing with unmanageable debt. Divorcing them will free you of the financial burden that they are suffering.
You can consult your attorney about the best route to take about the future of your marriage. They will be able to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each option with you .