Written by Jonathan Breeden
A fault-based divorce is becoming a thing of the past; nowadays, couples tend to file for a no-fault divorce, since they don’t need grounds to file for divorce in North Carolina. The only grounds for an absolute divorce in North Carolina is one-year separation. But there are still incidents where a spouse has committed some form of marital misconduct, and the couple struggles with how they plan to move forward. In North Carolina, these couples have the option of filing for a divorce from bed and board.
A divorce from bed and board can be granted in cases where one spouse has been emotionally or physically injured by the other spouse. This can occur when:
In a divorce from bed and board, the petitioning spouse will need to prove that the other spouse committed one of these types of misconduct, who will, in turn, be given a chance to prove that they are not guilty of marital misconduct.
If the judge issues a divorce from bed and board decree, the parties may move apart from each other and will not be expected to live together any longer. However, the parties will still be considered legally married, so they are unable to marry again unless they file for an absolute divorce.
In cases of absolute divorce, spouses live apart at separate addresses for at least one year before they may file for divorce. When their divorce is granted, their marriage is legally ended, and they are free to date or marry other people if they wish.
One main difference between an absolute divorce and a divorce from bed and board has to do with grounds: In North Carolina, you do not need to file for divorce based on grounds. Instead, you and your spouse can live separately for a year and then file for a no-fault divorce. A divorce from bed and board, however, is based on grounds, and will only be granted if a spouse has been found guilty of committing an act of misconduct.
You may be wondering why a couple would choose a “divorce” that still leaves them legally married. While it is limited, it can be helpful for some spouses. Often, a spouse may be committing one or more of the above-listed types of marital misconduct, and they may want to be apart, but the state considers cohabitation one of the necessary duties of a marriage. Neither party wants to be accused of abandoning their spouse, so they may continue to live together, even if it makes them both miserable. A divorce from bed and board allows them to live apart without a spouse being charged with abandonment. Living apart from each other will give them a chance to be separated if they decide they want to come back to court to file for absolute divorce.
For military personnel, a divorce from bed and board releases a member of the military from having to pay spousal support. This release is generally for a soldier who is married but doesn’t have children and doesn’t have any claims for alimony or post-separation support already pending.
Deciding to separate from your spouse can be a stressful decision and one that you may be reluctant to do. However, if you are suffering in a marriage where your spouse is committing marital misconduct, you should know that there is a way to end your misery. Talking to a well-versed North Carolina divorce attorney is the first step.
Attorney Jonathan Breeden has nearly two decades of experience with the local family courts; he will take the time to listen to your situation and explain all your options, including both absolute divorce and divorce from bed and board. Call (919) 661-4970 today to see how Breeden Law Office can help you.