Divorce vs. Legal Separation in Alabama: What’s Best for Your Family?

The divorce rate is very high in the United States, and this has made getting divorced an increasingly acceptable part of our culture or to some as if there is a kink in our culture. Unlike previous generations, divorce is no longer looked down upon in society like it was before. However, when a couple splits, divorce is not always the ideal option. In some cases, a legal separation may be a better alternative for Auburn, AL couples as opposed to getting a formal divorce.

You need to stay informed throughout the entire process about your options. There are lasting effects of divorce or legal separation on a family, including significant emotional and financial consequences.

What does legal separation mean?

Legal separation puts a marriage on hold. In a typical situation, both spouses would start living separate lives and move to different residences. However, legal separation is more formal than living separately. You will need to draft a legal separation agreement and get it approved by a court. The agreement should include arrangements for:

  • Property division
  • Child custody
  • Financial ends

How is getting a divorce different?

Formal divorce proceedings generally end the marriage, beyond which they are similar to getting a legal separation. You would need to create a divorce agreement and have it approved by the court. Legal separation and divorce may cost the same since they are similar.

Differences in Legal Processes

Legal separation

Process of legal separation and divorce are similar. A family court will determine child visitation and custody, and division of assets. In addition, the couple should not live under the same roof. The court may also determine alimony, child support, and other separation maintenance. Other financial setups, like insurance and benefits can remain intact. Although the court may decide about the dividing property aspect of this.


Divorce proceedings begin when either party approaches a family court and files a Summons and Complaint. The court will split assets, property and debts acquired in the course of the marriage. Deciding factors on how the court will split property includes:

  • Age at the time of divorce
  • Length of marriage
  • Marital misconduct
  • Value of property
  • Spousal contribution
  • Child custody
  • Liens on property
  • Support obligations from previous children or marriages

Non-marital property is usually not subject to division. However, the court will decide on child custody. Contributing factors to this decision include:

  • Children’s preferences
  • Child development and temperament
  • Parental behavior
  • Location of parents
  • Cultural background
  • Stability of residence
  • Parental involvement

Parents discuss a visitation schedule once a custody decision is reached. The court will step in to create a legally binding agreement if the parents cannot agree.

Long-term Ramifications

Legal separation

Ease of reconciliation is a major reason for opting for legal separation instead of getting divorced. You don’t need to remarry if you want to resume the marriage. Also, if you decide to dissolve the marriage, you don’t need to start from scratch.


A marriage is completely dissolved when a divorce is complete. You will need to remarry if you decide to resume the marriage or reconcile. Correlating with this, there are several other consequences you would need to account for. For instance, there are extra steps involved when you want to travel overseas with your children after a divorce.

When to Consider a Legal Separation in Auburn, AL

  • If couples are not 100% sure about ending their marriage
  • There are religious restrictions on getting a divorce
  • You want to share health insurance coverage
  • You want to file taxes jointly for tax benefits
  • You want to remain legally married to complete 10 years for receiving military or Social Security benefits from your spouse’s work

When to Consider a Divorce

  • You are certain about ending the marriage and don’t see any financial gains from having a legal separation
  • You are looking forward to getting married again
  • Divorce is preferable when you don’t want any connection (medical or financial) with your spouse

Getting legally separated in Alabama

The harsh reality is that a high percentage of marriages will not be able to make it till the death of any of the spouses. Divorce may be one of the ways of ending a marriage. But, couples that are confused may consider taking the route of legal separation. A lot of couples consider legal separation for religious reasons.

You should know the following about the Alabama Code if you are thinking of getting a legal separation:

  • Legal separation allows you to live apart from your spouse but doesn’t end the marital status. You would still be ‘married’ while signing taxes, contracts, and other documents.
  • Any separation alimony will be carried over into the divorce if you choose to dissolve the marriage permanently.
  • Either spouse can transfer property ownership provided there is written consent.
  • Post-separation accumulated earnings are not considered if the marriage ends in divorce after legal separation.

Make the Best Decision for Yourself and Your Family

The legal system can often be confusing and complex. It’s crucial that you hire a qualified and focused divorce attorney for assisting you through the process. A trusted Auburn, AL family law attorney from Alsobrook Law Group can guide you through the process. Give us a call at 334-737-3718 to speak to a lawyer who can help you determine the best way forward for your family.