Is Legal Separation Right For You?
It is always a red flag when you start dating someone who claims to be separated but not divorced, because the definition of “separated” is just too imprecise. Has the new beau filed for divorce from his wife? Do they live in separate households? If he sleeps in the basement while she stays in the upstairs bedroom, but they still have their respective paychecks deposited into their joint bank account, eat dinners together at home, and travel as a family with your children, then he might be unhappily married, but he is not single by any stretch of the imagination. Fortunately, family courts are much more specific about the definition of “separated” than dating sites are. According to Alabama law, it is possible for couples to get a legal separation, as a result of which they remain legally married, but they sign a binding agreement about the division of their finances and, if they have minor children, they formalize a parenting plan. If you believe that marriage is forever, but you and your spouse are living apart and having constant conflict about money, contact a Birmingham legal separation lawyer.
Divorce, Separation, and Annulment: What Is the Difference?
There are various legal scenarios by which two people can stop being a couple. In an annulment, the court declares that the marriage was never legally valid. If the couple owned property together during what they thought was a marriage, the court divides it just as it would during the breakup of a business partnership. There is no alimony in an annulment. If the couple has children together, there is still a parenting plan and child support.
In a divorce, the court officially dissolves the marriage, leaving the parties free to remarry. In dividing their marital property, it usually adopts a marital settlement agreement (MSA) that the parties have drafted and signed during mediation; the court only decides how to divide the property if the couple cannot agree and the case goes to trial. The MSA may or may not involve alimony payments. Parenting plans and child support orders are separate from the MSA.
In a legal separation, you sign an MSA and divide your property, but instead of asking the court to dissolve your marriage, you remain legally married. This is an important distinction with regard to insurance and taxes. If one of you later decides that you want to marry someone else, you will have to go through the legal process of finalizing your divorce. Most couples who go through legal separation are over age 60, but some are young enough to have minor children. If you legally separate from your spouse while your children are minors, you need a parenting plan and child support order.
Contact Peeples Law About Legal Separation as an Alternative to Divorce
You might need a family law attorney even if you don’t want a divorce. A Birmingham family law attorney can help you and your spouse separate your finances without getting divorced. Contact Peeples Law today to schedule a consultation.