The easiest way to facilitate a marital separation is for one spouse to move out of the marital home. But, what happens if neither spouse is willing to move out? Can one spouse force the other spouse to vacate the marital home?
In North Carolina, there are limited options to force a marital separation. One option is for a spouse to file a legal action seeking a “divorce from bed and board.” A divorce from bed and board is not really a divorce, but rather a legally authorized separation in which a judge has authority to require one of the spouses to vacate the marital home. The spouses remain legally married so neither spouse can remarry without obtaining a judgment of absolute divorce.
A divorce from bed and board may be granted to an “injured” spouse if a judge finds that the other spouse committed any of the following acts of marital misconduct:
- maliciously turning the other out-of- doors;
- cruel or barbarous treatment endangering the life of the other;
- indignities that render the other spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome;
- excessive use of alcohol or drugs that render the other spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome; or
In order to prevail on a claim for divorce from bed and board, the injured spouse must prove that he/she did not provoke the misconduct of the other spouse.
When acts of domestic violence occur between the spouses, an abused spouse may file a legal action seeking a domestic violence protective order. In these matters, a judge may enter a protective order that grants the abused spouse exclusive possession of the marital home and requires the offending spouse to vacate the home.
Separating from your spouse may affect finances and property rights and can have other legal implications. If you are considering separating from your spouse, you will benefit from having a consultation with an experienced family law attorney.