At the conclusion of any matrimonial matter, in the State of New Jersey, the Court can grant either a Judgment of Divorce or a Divorce from Bed and Board. A Judgment of Divorce is considered by the courts to be an absolute divorce severing all ties between the parties. However, a Divorce from Bed and Board is considered by the courts to be only a legal separation.
In the recent case of Leggio v. Leggio, where the parties were asking the Court to grant a Divorce from Bed and Board, the court stated it was unable to grant plaintiff’s name change application due to the fact that the court’s authority to grant a name change is limited to those circumstances in which an absolute divorce has been granted. Under the facts of this case, the parties continued to be married in the eyes of the law and it was not proper for a name change application to be granted by the court under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-21. The court further stated that absent an entry of judgment of absolute divorce, an application for a name change would be governed by the more burdensome, costly and time-consuming requirements of the general name change statue, N.J.S.A. 2A:52-1.