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Can you separate without getting divorced?

There are many possible ways that a marriage could end in North Carolina, but there are only two main types of divorce. The first and most common is absolute divorce, which completely dissolves the marital bond. 

If you want to separate without dissolving your marriage entirely, you may want to consider the other option. The legal term for this is “divorce from bed and board”. 

What is divorce from bed and board?

As explained by the North Carolina State Bar’s section of Legal Assistance for Military Personnel, divorce from bed and board suspends some duties and rights of matrimony. If you secured this type of judgement from the court, you would not be single. Neither you nor your spouse would be able to marry again. 

Who might consider DBB?

The NCLAMP goes on to mention several cases in which you might consider filing DBB. Here are some examples: 

  • To leave the marital home without legally abandoning your spouse 
  • To suspend certain inheritance and real property rights 
  • To escape personal indignities or mental cruelty 

Either you or your spouse could file this type of action. Whoever files first would be the plaintiff. However, if you act first, your spouse might begin a countersuit of the same type. 

Although the reference for this article targets the military, the same rules would probably apply to civilians in these types of situations. 

There are also some situations in which divorce is more than a personal or legal matter. For example, you may want to maintain your bonds of matrimony for religious reasons. DBB could potentially serve this purpose. 

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