Getting a “Divorce from Bed and Board” in New Jersey and Want to Resume Your Former Name? Not So Fast.
At Salvaggio Law Group LLC, we are frequently asked to file for a “legal separation” by people who don’t want to be divorced but do want to have a court resolve all of the issues that would normally be resolved in a divorce case, such as child custody and parenting time, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.There is no formal court proceeding in New Jersey called a “legal separation.”
The closest thing to a “legal separation” in New Jersey is what is called a “divorce from bed and board” or limited divorce. It is most commonly used when: (1) one spouse’s health insurance will continue to provide coverage to the other spouse in the event of a separation but not a divorce; (2) divorce is contrary to the parties’ religious beliefs; or (3) the parties have been married for almost ten (10) years, which is needed in order for the lower earning spouse to qualify for increased social security benefits based on the earnings of the higher earning spouse.
Following a Judgment for Divorce from Bed and Board, the parties remain legally married but are economically divorced, just as though a Judgment of Divorce had been entered.
However, as a New Jersey Family Court recently made clear in the case of Leggio v. Leggio, there is another significant difference: when you get a divorce from bed and board, you can’t resume your former name as part of the divorce case.
N.J.S.A. 2A:34-21, which is the New Jersey statute that permits the name change procedure in divorce cases, specifically states that it may be done “upon or after granting a divorce from the bonds of matrimony to either spouse or dissolution of a civil union to either partner in a civil union couple.”
In Leggio, the New Jersey Family Court Judge ruled that this statute does not apply to a “divorce from bed and board,” because the marriage remains legally intact.
The Judge said that the wife who wanted the name change would have to go through the more complicated and time consuming procedure spelled out in the New Jersey Name Change Statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:52-1, which is used by anyone else who is seeking a name change.
An experienced New Jersey divorce attorney can help you weigh all aspects of the decision to separate or divorce, and choose the strategy best suited to your unique circumstances.
For a free, confidential telephone consultation about New Jersey Divorce or any other New Jersey Family Law matter, call Salvaggio Law Group LLC at (973) 455-1220.