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Two types of divorce offer different options

In North Carolina, there are essentially two types of divorce. In absolute divorce, both parties can remarry, and the marriage is terminated. In divorce from bed and board, the marriage is not ended, and neither spouse can remarry. The main reason for a spouse to choose the latter involves spousal support and abandonment.

A spouse who is awarded divorce from bed and board is not required to provide spousal support. It also removes the possibility of an abandonment accusation. Abandonment may be cited if one spouse permanently leaves the home. In the case of DBB, the separation is due to the inability of both spouses to remain in the marital home.

If one spouse feels they may no longer safely live in the marital residence without fear of an altercation, whether physical or mental, they may ask for a DBB. In order to file for DBB, the leaving spouse must provide grounds such as adultery, cruelty, barbarous treatment or personal indignities. The nature of personal indignities may vary by case, and what is repulsive and intolerable in one case may not be so in another. The court may explore this carefully before granting a DBB.

If a spouse is awarded a DBB, the party who is considered to be at fault loses spousal estate rights, while the other spouse retains all rights to inheritance. DBB also suspends the spouse's right to one-third of the other spouse's property. Without doing this, property may be sold only with the approval of the non-selling spouse.

Property distribution and spousal support may be affected by DBB. If it is impossible for both spouses to live together, DBB may be an option. An attorney familiar with the laws in North Carolina may assist a spouse to decide if DBB is right in their case.

Source: Legal Assistance for Military Personnel, "Divorce From Bed And Board", November 06, 2014

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