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Alabama Legal Separation
Legal Separation in Alabama

Alabama recognizes legal separation. A married couple may choose legal separation instead of divorce for several reasons, such as religion, medical insurance, or complications with asset and property division between the spouses. In a separation, the spouses remain married, but sever most of their other marital connections. In practice, getting a legal separation is very similar to getting a divorce in that the partners are required to account for the custody and support of their children before being granted a legal separation. A legal separation can later be converted into a divorce. It can also be terminated at any time if the couple reunites, or it can abbreviate the divorce action when the separation resolves issues between the spouses. Legal separation gives the couple time to reach an agreement with each other so that a divorce action is usually shorter and less costly.

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a legal binding contract signed by spouses, which is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. This can be a very complex and detailed document depending upon the unique situation of the marriage. Many spouses consult an attorney to provide this or they decide to prepare their own.

Grounds

A legal separation in Alabama can be predicated on one of two no-fault grounds. Either spouse can assert an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage so that further attempts at reconciliation are futile and not in the best interests of the parties, or either spouse can assert an incompatibility of temperament with the desire to live separate and apart. The court normally accepts either claim with minimal or no evidence.

Decree of Legal Separation

According to Alabama's Statute Section 30-2-40(a), in order to grant legal separation to a married couple, the court must:

  • have jurisdiction to grant the separation;
  • determine whether the marriage can be saved; and
  • determine the custody and child support under Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration.

Dissolution

If a legally separated couple reunites, Alabama allows them to revoke the legal separation filing by filing a joint motion to dismiss. If this occurs and the couple later wants to divorce, the arrangements made during the previous legal separation are not included in the divorce and the couple must start from scratch.

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