Divorce and legal separation are two distinct legal processes that married couples who want to end their marriage or live apart can seek. Both processes have distinctive qualities of their own and may be suitable in certain circumstances.
A divorce, also known as a dissolution of marriage, is a legal process that ends a marriage and settles any issues that arise from it, such as property distribution, child custody and support, and alimony. Divorce is typically sought when a couple decides to leave their marriage permanently and go on with their lives separately. To seek a divorce in Birmingham, or anywhere else in Alabama, one of the parties must file a divorce petition with the court and serve the other party with the petition. Following that, the parties may proceed to negotiate and settle any unresolved issues by mediation, negotiations, or litigation. Once all issues have been settled and the settlement has been approved by the court, the court will issue a formal divorce ruling, which legally ends the marriage.
A legal separation, on the other hand, is a legal process that permits a married couple to live separately and make decisions about their shared assets and duties while not officially ending the marriage. When a couple wants to live apart but does not want to divorce for personal or financial reasons, they may seek a legal separation. A legal separation, like a Shelby County divorce, entails negotiating and resolving issues such as property distribution, child custody and support, and alimony. Unlike a divorce, however, the partners remain legally married after a legal separation.
There are some significant distinctions between an uncontested divorce and a legal separation. One major distinction is that a divorce permanently ends the marriage, whereas a legal separation does not. That is, after a divorce, the parties are free to marry other people, but not after a formal separation. Another distinction is that a divorce requires one party to petition the court and serve the other party, whereas a legal separation can be started by either side. Furthermore, the grounds for obtaining a divorce and a legal separation may differ in different states. Some states let couples divorce on the basis of irreconcilable differences or no-fault grounds, but others require the parties to establish flaws like infidelity or abuse.
A legal separation may be a brief measure taken by a couple before choosing whether to divorce or reunite. In other circumstances, a legal separation may be a long-term arrangement that allows the parties to live apart while still remaining legally and financially bound. Finally, whether to pursue a Tuscaloosa contested divorce or a legal separation will be determined by the specific circumstances of each marriage, as well as their individual wants and ambitions. Individuals considering either choice should seek the counsel of an expert family law attorney to fully understand their legal rights and options.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, probate, and real estate closings on this website. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply feedback. We appreciate our readers & love to hear from you!