Divorce from Bed and Board Prolongs Name Change Process

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In Leggio v. Leggio, a New Jersey court determined that in a judgment of divorce from bed and board, a person seeking a name change must submit their application under the requirements of the general name change statute governed by N.J.S.A. 2A:52-1. Under this statute, one must file a verified complaint, explaining why the name change is being sought; file an order fixing date of hearing; file a final judgment; file a civil case information statement; and pay a $200 filing fee. Additionally, it is required that one contact a newspaper to have their new legal name announced publicly. This process is more time consuming and burdensome than if one were to seek a name change during an absolute divorce which is governed by N.J.SA. 2A:34-21. The statute reads:

The court, upon or after granting a divorce from the bonds of matrimony to either spouse or dissolution of a civil union to either partner in a civil union couple, may allow either spouse or partner in a civil union couple to resume any name used by the spouse or partner in a civil union couple before the marriage or civil union, or to assume any surname.

In this case, Husband and Wife were married on July 11, 1958. They obtained a dual judgment of divorce from bed and board on July 15, 2004. The Court noted that such a divorce is considered the closest available option to a “legal separation” in New Jersey but in the eyes of the law, the couple remained married. The court determined that since an absolute divorce was not granted between the Husband and Wife, it was not proper for it to grant the Wife’s name change application and that the Law Division would have to address Wife’s application governed by N.J.S.A. 2A:52-1.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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