Divorce from Bed and Board

How to protect yourself from paying alimony in cases of abandonment

In North Carolina, there are two types of divorce: absolute divorce and divorce from bed and board. The former refers to a separation that effectively terminates the marriage contract. With a divorce from bed and board, the rights and duties of marriage are instead suspended.

Divorce from Bed and Board

While the plaintiff is ineligible to remarry in a divorce from bed and board, there are clear incentives to file for a DBB. Filing for this type of divorce releases the plaintiff from their financial obligation to provide spousal support and can also be used to legally justify a spouse leaving their marital home without consequence.

What this means is that the plaintiff can defend themselves against allegations of abandonment in the marriage by filing for DBB.

In North Carolina, the law around “abandonment” can be confusing, because it consists of four elements (departure from the marital residence; without the intent to return; without the consent of the other spouse; without legal justification or excuse) that aim to prove that the cause for departure is “significant” in the eyes of the law.

In this way, “abandonment” can easily be used to build a case for alimony. DBB can be used to legally justify the departure of the spouse, releasing them of their legal obligation to provide spousal support as a result of abandonment.

In order to file for divorce from bed and board, the plaintiff would have to charge the spouse with one or more of the “fault grounds” set out in the statutes, such as adultery, personal indignities, cruelty, etc. (For a complete list of grounds, see  NCGS 50-7).

Unsure if you qualify? Give us a call today at the Law Office of Janice V. Coulter to schedule a time to speak with the lawyer and discuss your options.