Defining a divorce from room and board

If you and your spouse have chosen to separate, then your next step will no doubt be to consider the future of your life together in Hackensack. Such is the conundrum that many have brought to our team here at Melinda L. Singer, Esquire. There hopes typically were to enter into a legal separation, to which we informed them that New Jersey technically does not recognize such statuses. Rather, the state allows for a divorce “from room and board.” 

The concept of a room and board divorce originates from the Latin term “a mensa et thoro,” which literally translated means “from table and bed.” Couples in such a status are recognized as still being married without engaging in the intimate and domestic privileges that typically come with marriage. You could easily say that a room and board divorce is different from a legal separation in name only. You still cannot remarry without officially getting a divorce, yet you and your spouse still have access to the financial benefits reserved for married couples. 

That main benefit is typically health insurance coverage. Divorcing from bed and board allows either of you the benefit of securing employment without the need to ensure medical benefits are offered. Survivorship benefits might also continue during such a divorce (yet intestate inheritance rights do end). Keep in mind, however, that some insurers may indeed recognize a room and bed divorce as a change in circumstance that warrants terminating coverage. 

Section 2A.34-3 of New Jersey’s Revised Statutes shows if you petition for a room and bed divorce, that petition can easily later be revoked in the event of your reconciling with your spouse, or converted to a full divorce should you so choose. 

More information on room and bed divorces can be found here on our site.