What is “legal separation” in Alabama?
When a married couple in Alabama no longer wants to live together, but they do not wish to get a divorce, they have the option of petitioning for a legal separation. Although a couple has the right to separate at any time, living in separate locations is not enough to constitute a “legal separation.” So what does it mean to legally separate?
What are the requirements?
A legal separation is similar to a divorce in that a court order sets out the child custody arrangements, child and spousal support payments, allocation of assets, and debt payment obligations. You and your spouse must then abide by those terms. In order to obtain a legal separation, you must demonstrate to the court one of the following situations: (1) your marriage is “irretrievably broken,” (2) you or your spouse desire to live apart from one another, or (3) you and your spouse are too incompatible to cohabit in the same home.
Can the terms of the separation be modified?
Once your request for a legal separation has been granted, the terms of the separation decree, much like a divorce decree, become legally binding. If you want to modify those terms later on, you can only do so with court approval, unless you both agree to the changes in writing.
What does it mean to be legally separated?
Once you and your spouse are legally separated, you are free to obtain and convey property without your spouse’s consent. Consequently, if you later divorce, the state of Alabama will consider any property you acquired after the legal separation as your own separate property. This means your spouse would have no claim to these assets during the divorce.
What if we want to reconcile?
If you and your spouse decide to reconcile after legally separating, the separation must be dissolved. This requires that you and your spouse put your request to dissolve the arrangement in writing and submit it to the court. The court will then terminate the separation, allowing you and your spouse to return to married life.
If you have questions regarding legal separations, or any other divorce issues, contact attorney Brad J. Latta online, or by calling (205) 998-5570.