Unlike several other states, New Jersey does not have a formal process for legal separation as opposed to a divorce.
Instead, Marlton residents who want something along the lines of a legal separation can file for a “bed and board” divorce. The result of this type of proceeding will mean a couple is divorced with respect to their property and will be treated as if they were single parents when it comes to child custody and support. However, the couple is not free to re-marry until they convert their divorce to an “absolute” divorce.
What this means for those who are exploring this option is that it is still possible to ask for, and receive, alimony in the course of a bed and board divorce. This is because the parties are, presumably, being separated indefinitely, and therefore they need the intervention of the New Jersey courts to divide property fairly and equitably. Alimony is one means of accomplishing this important task.
As this blog has discussed previously, alimony gets awarded at the discretion of the judge hearing the divorce case. The judge considers a lengthy list of factors before deciding on the proper amount of alimony to award a spouse. The fact a couple has decided to get a “bed and board” divorce is not listed as one of the factors a court can consider, however.
While we have posted on some relatively recent changes in New Jersey law that made alimony a bit less open-ended, there are no detailed guidelines as to how much or how little alimony a judge has to award, and the judge may decline to award alimony at all.
In other words, alimony does not get determined in the same formulaic way child support gets set. For this and other reasons, a person who feels that he or she will require a portion of their spouse’s income in order to maintain their customary standard of living or even make ends meet will likely want a skilled family law advocate to help them make their case.