Why "Legal" Separations are So Important

For Alabama couples who recognize that they need space to re-evaluate their marriage, but are not ready to commit the finality of a divorce, separation is likely their best option. Too many couples, however, believe that merely living apart for a time is "good enough" for these purposes and do not take the proper legal precautions. In the event of an eventual divorce or other legal action, many spouses who do not file for a legal separation find themselves dealing with more financial frustrations than they bargained for.

Merely living apart does not constitute a “legal” separation and during this time apart, the actions of one spouse can negatively affect the entire state of the marriage. For instance, debt that is incurred by one spouse during this time will be considered shared in the eyes of the court—as is all income. A legally-recognized separation would eliminate this kind of risk by officially creating a partition between you and your spouse for the duration of the time apart.

Why Legal Separations are Recommended

Legal separations are granted by the court, who must determine that a marriage is "irretrievably broken," or recognizes that both spouses are incompatible or desire to live apart. From there, the court will rule on child support and custody (and, sometimes, alimony). Further financial protections are also put in place for the couple:

  • Following the separation, all income—including retirement benefits—will be considered separate property and not shared by the couple.
  • A spouse can sell real estate owned by them without the consent/signature of the other spouse.
  • Each spouse can waive rights to eventual inheritance from the other spouse.

As you can see, these agreements are almost as comprehensive as a divorce agreement, but with one key difference: the marriage remains intact. Following a legal separation, the couple still has a choice to reunite or to move on with a divorce.

If you believe that a legal separation could be right for you and your spouse, we invite you to contact us today at Beckum Kittle LLP. We are well-versed in assisting couples negotiate and establish their separation during this uncertain time and always ensure that they're rights are protected and that there interests are looked after.

The guidance and compassion you need is just a phone call away. Contact us to request a free case evaluation today.

Categories: Family Law, Divorce

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