When a marriage is no longer working for any number of reasons, most people jump to the conclusion that the best possible answer is to divorce. In some cases, that conclusion rings true, but there is another option: legal separation. In the state of Alabama, legal separation puts a marriage on hold and allows each spouse to evaluate their situation and consider the future of their marriage, whereas a divorce ends the marriage altogether. For some couples, initiating the proceedings for a divorce may be the best option, but for couples who have other considerations holding them back from making that final, lasting decision, a legal separation may be more beneficial.
What Is the Difference Between a Divorce and Legal Separation in Alabama?
Divorce is a legal process that ends a marriage. At the end of these proceedings, the marriage is considered “dissolved” and either party is free to remarry after a short waiting period. During the proceedings for a divorce, the courts will decide how to divide marital property, custody of any children, child support, and spousal support.
Legal separation is more than a couple’s decision to live apart and begin new chapters of their lives separately. A legal separation is a court order which addresses the same considerations of a divorce, but the couple remains legally married after the proceedings have ended. They may continue to live separately with legally binding agreements in place regarding property, custody, child support, and spousal support. However, in order for either of the spouses to remarry, they will need to petition the court to change their legal separation status to a divorce.
What Are the Benefits to Legal Separation?
Legal separation can be beneficial for couples who are hesitant to permanently end their marriage for many reasons, including:
- Religious considerations
- Social or personal objections to divorce
- Financial concerns
- The need for shared medical insurance
- Continuing to file taxes jointly for tax benefits
- Remaining legally married for the required period to receive military or Social Security benefits
- Expediting future divorce proceedings
- The potential for future reconciliation
- To avoid the stigma of divorce
- Wanting a clear written agreement about custody and support without the finality of divorce
Let an Experienced Team Help You Through the Separation Process
Serving the Counties of Cullman, Blount, Winston, Madison, Morgan, and beyond, the experienced, compassionate team at The Hankey Law Firm is prepared to guide you through the separation process and assist you in making the best decision for your family and your future. Our team understands that this decision isn’t made lightly or easily, and we are prepared to advocate for the best possible outcome for your specific circumstances. With 55 years of combined experience, The Hankey Law Firm is well-prepared to assist you in all your family law needs. Our client-centric practice will advocate for you and protect your rights with professionalism, sensitivity, and an extensive knowledge of family law. Contact us today.