What is Divorce From Bed & Board?

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Divorce from bed and board is a fault based divorce that really isn’t a divorce at all but rather is a legal separation. Normally, a complaint for divorce from bed and board is brought when both parties are still living together and one party is having an affair, abusive, or using drugs and the innocent spouse wants the at fault spouse out of the house. If brought at the same time as claims for custody, child support, and distribution of property, a judicially ordered separation pursuant to the prayer for divorce from bed and board establishes the separation required for those other actions. Those actions, including getting your actual divorce requires that you and your spouse are separated for one year. The complaint for divorce from bed and board must be verified and it must contain the required allegations of residency.

The complainant must establish at least one of the six fault grounds enumerated in the statute: abandonment, malicious turning out of doors, cruel or barbarous treatment, indignities, excessive use of alcohol or drugs rendering the condition of the other spouse intolerable, or adultery. The spouse seeking the divorce must also allege that he/she did not provoke the other spouse’s misconduct. The right to jury trial in an action for divorce from bed and board is governed by the statutory provision permitting a jury to make the factual findings on issues of fault. The spouse filing the complaint must prove the allegations by greater weight of the evidence.

The defenses to divorce from bed and board are the same as those for alimony.

The main reason a divorce from bed and board is filed is to get the offending spouse out of the house. A divorce from bed and board “suspends the effect of the marriage as to cohabitation, but does not dissolve the marriage bond.” The divorced spouse loses the rights enumerated in Section 31A-1(b) of the North Carolina General Statutes.