What steps should I follow to file a legal separation in Birmingham, AL?

Sometimes, a married couple decides against getting a divorce because they wish to continue living together and have an enforceable court order governing spousal maintenance and assets. Such couples may pursue a legal separation in Alabama under the terms of the law, which can help them reach their objectives. 

The process of requesting a legal separation in Alabama can be explained to you by a divorce attorney Birmingham, who will also represent your interests throughout the entire procedure.

Alabama allows you to file for a legal separation in the same court where you would file for divorce. The only significant difference between the court documents is that they use the term “legal separation” instead of “dissolution of marriage” or “divorce” and do not state that the marriage is dissolved.

If you satisfy all of these conditions, the court may issue an order of legal separation, according to AL Code 30-2-40:

  • The case complies with the same standards for jurisdiction as divorce litigation. The court cannot decide on a legal separation lawsuit if it lacks jurisdiction to handle a divorce case involving these parties.

  • A minimum of one of three conditions applies:
    • To live apart and independently, both parties agree.
    • There is no salvaging the marriage.
    • There is no compatibility between the temperaments of the married couple.
  • As far as the court is competent to do so, it has applied Rule 32 child support standards to child support and custody issues.

Legal separations are still considered marriages but must meet the same requirements as divorces. Consequently, in a legal separation, the court will determine child support just as it would in a divorce and consider the same custody criteria.

Here are several scenarios that could lead someone to decide against getting divorced and instead file for legal separation:

  • At the time of legal separation, the spouse seeking a separation is not emotionally prepared to end their marriage.
  • A person’s moral or religious beliefs may make them unfavorable to divorce.

  • Prenuptial agreements may stipulate that financial benefits, such as inheritances, can only be received after a certain number of years. Many prenuptial contracts treat a legal separation like a divorce. Verify the document’s language.

  • It may be impossible for the couple to cohabitate, but they still want to keep their marital status.