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While most couples who want to divorce go for an absolute divorce, some may not. There is the option of limited divorce for those couples. You should get information from your family lawyer about which divorce is best suited for your goals. Here’s what you should know about a limited divorce.

What Is A Limited Divorce?

A limited divorce is like legal separation. It doesn’t end the marriage and even after a limited divorce, the couple can’t remarry because they are still married to each other.

The term “limited divorce” is mostly used in Maryland. In New Jersey and Virginia, it’s called “divorce from bed and board”, while in many other states, it’s named “legal separation”.

During a limited divorce:

  • Sexual relations of one spouse with another person are considered adultery in some states. However, there can be an exception if the couple agrees to file for an absolute divorce after the time set by the court for the limited divorce finishes.
  • The date of the separation between the spouses is marked. If the couple takes part in a sexual relationship with each other after that date, the time requirements for getting an absolute divorce will restart since many couples who want an absolute divorce after a limited divorce use separation as a ground.
  • In case one spouse dies during a limited divorce, the other spouse can inherit the assets.
  • If the divorce decree doesn’t state anything about the ownership of any property you own as a spouse, the ownership of that property will stay the same.

What Is An Absolute Divorce?

Before moving on and explaining more about limited divorce or divorce from bed and board, you should know about absolute divorce. An absolute divorce is a complete divorce that ends the marriage, assets are split between both parties, and they can pursue their lives apart, and marry any other person they want. Usually, when people say divorce, it means absolute divorce.

When A Limited Divorce Is Preferable?

The Court Determines The Terms Of Separation

A limited divorce is pursued by couples who don’t want to end the marriage, and want to live separately, but can’t agree on the separation terms. With a limited divorce, the court will order the terms of separation such as who will live in the marital home, who will get child custody, who will pay alimony and other terms. Both parties will be bound to the court’s rulings.

The Couple Doesn’t Have Grounds For Absolute Divorce Yet

The grounds for absolute divorce are stricter than limited divorce. So, couples who want an absolute divorce, but don’t have ground for it yet, can pursue a limited divorce in the meantime to live separately by hiring a family attorney Fairfax VA.

After the limited divorce, if the couples want and meet the grounds for absolute divorce, they can file a complaint for absolute divorce and initiate the process to terminate the marriage.

Religious Reasons

In some religions, divorce is forbidden except for certain conditions and situations. However, if the marriage is falling apart without those conditions, the couple can choose a limited divorce to get separated legally while still being married.

Possible Reconciliation

As a limited divorce is not a dissolution of the marriage and the couple stays married while being legally separated, both spouses have time to determine if divorce is the best solution for their marital problems.

This provides an opportunity for spouses to work on the marital differences that can lead to a reconciliation. In that case, they can revoke the limited divorce and remain married as a living-together couple. However, in the case of an absolute divorce, the couple will need to remarry if they wish to become a part of each other’s lives again.

Tax Benefits

Couples who are in a limited divorce are still married so they can file tax returns as a married couple. So, if one or both spouses are getting tax benefits by filing jointly and the other spouse agrees, they can keep availing those tax benefits.

Health Insurance

Many couples pursue a limited divorce because allows one spouse to stay on the health insurance plan of the other spouse. This is because almost all insurance plan takes the couple as married so they can still use the plans as they were before the limited divorce.

However, in the case of an absolute divorce, one party is not allowed to use the health insurance plans of the other party because they are not married anymore except if they pay COBRA premiums that have a high cost.

Property Rights

During a limited divorce, marital property can be divided for both parties by the court. But if the couple has any joint property, it will still be having both spouses as its owners. It will be changed only if the couple files for an absolute divorce or one spouse buys out the portion of the other spouse.

Requirements Of A Limited Divorce

Although the grounds required for a limed divorce are less strict than absolute divorce, these requirements should be met if the couple wants a limited divorce:

  • One spouse has deserted the other.
  • The couple has not been living together or avoiding sexual contact with each other for less than 12 months.
  • One of the spouses abused the other spouse.
  • A child was abused by any of the spouses.

Disadvantages Of A Limited Divorce

Both parties Must Agree To The Limited Divorce

A limited divorce is only possible if both parties agree to enter it. If one spouse doesn’t want a limited divorce, this type of divorce can’t happen. This is not the case with an absolute divorce. Even if one spouse doesn’t want a divorce, the other spouse can file for an absolute divorce if they have the grounds.

No Spouse Can Remarry

In a limited divorce, both spouses are legally separated but still are married. So, they can’t marry any other person.

Frequently Asked Questions About Limited Divorce

What is the difference between a limited divorce and an absolute divorce?

A limited divorce is a legal separation while an absolute divorce is the end of the marriage.

Do I need a limited divorce for an absolute divorce?

No, you don’t have to file for a limited divorce to be eligible for an absolute divorce. You can directly file for an absolute divorce if you have the grounds for it and fulfill its requirements.

Can I get an absolute divorce after a limited divorce?

Yes, an absolute divorce is permitted after a limited divorce. However, you can file for it after the time period set by the court for the limited divorce.

Can you marry another person after a limited divorce?

A couple stays married after a limited divorce so none of the two spouses can marry any other person.

Is limited divorce possible in Virginia?

Yes, you can get a limited divorce in Virginia if you meet the requirements of a limited divorce.

Can you get a limited divorce without the consent of the other spouse?

The rule of law doesn’t allow a limited divorce where both parties don’t agree to this type of divorce.


A limited divorce can give you some benefits without ending the marriage completely. If you want something like this, discuss it with your spouse, and hire a divorce attorney Fairfax VA to initiate the process.

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