Can You Change Divorce to Legal Separation?

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This article was reviewed and approved for publication by Attorney Charlotte Christian.
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If you are currently going through divorce proceedings and would like to change a divorce to a legal separation, you can. The change needs to be made before a final judgment is made in the divorce proceedings. Once a final judgment is made in a divorce, the couple would need to remarry before they will be legally bound to one another again.

If you are currently going through a divorce and want to change it to a legal separation, we can help. The attorneys at Charlotte Christian Law understand that a divorce is a big step, and we want to help you make the decision that is best for you and your family. Our attorneys are compassionate and understanding of the different circumstances our clients face.

A legal separation is a court-ordered arrangement where a married couple lives apart and leads separate lives but is still legally married. This option is usually chosen when the parties are not sure they are ready to follow through with a divorce. According to Alabama Code § 30-2-40, the court will honor a legal separation if the following are satisfied:

  • The jurisdictional requirements of dissolution of marriage have been met.
  • The court determines the marriage is irretrievably broken and one or both parties desire to live apart.
  • The court has considered and approved child custody and has entered an order for child support.
  • The court will order the terms of alimony and property settlement.

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A divorce and a legal separation are seen differently by the law. The biggest difference is that in a legal separation you remain married, while with a divorce you do not. Other differences between a legal separation and divorce include:

  • Benefits: With a legal separation, you are still able to obtain healthcare and other benefits from your spouse. This also includes any social security benefits. When divorced, all of these benefits will be terminated.
  • Marital status: If you are legally separated, you are unable to remarry. Once you’re divorced, you are free to do so. Alabama Code § 30-2-10 states you are unable to get remarried after divorce for at least 60 days from the date of the judgment.
  • Next of kin: Your spouse will remain your next of kin if you are legally separated. Once you are divorced, they will no longer receive that designation.
  • Liabilities: If you are legally separated, you may still be held responsible for your spouse’s debts or other liabilities. Once you are divorced, these liabilities can be removed.

If there is any chance of reconciliation, it is better to move forward with a legal separation. Once you are divorced, you would have to remarry to be reunified legally.

While there are many differences between divorce and legal separation, they share several similarities. These include:

  • Alimony: One party of a legally separated couple may still be required to pay alimony to the other.
  • Child custody: A child custody agreement is still necessary for a legal separation.

There are many reasons why some people might prefer a legal separation over a divorce. Some of these reasons include:

  • One or both spouses think the relationship is over but are not fully ready to cut legal ties.
  • Some couples may not want to end the marriage because of religious reasons.
  • Both spouses may want to ensure a divorce is the right decision and try out living apart before committing to a divorce.
  • The couple might want to stay married long enough to receive social security benefits from the other.
  • There may be a prenuptial agreement in place that requires the couple to be together for a certain amount of time before the other party can receive benefits, such as an inheritance or other financial benefits.

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At Charlotte Christian Law, We Go Above and Beyond For Our Clients

At our firm, we go above and beyond to help you achieve a positive outcome. Whether it is a divorce or a legal separation, we want you to feel good about the decisions you make regarding your future. We support your decisions and want to be a legal advocate for you.

Going through a legal separation can be an emotionally draining experience. We will take on the legal issues that arise in your case so you can focus on moving forward. Our attorneys will always be available to answer your questions or give you status updates on your case.

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Contact Us Today for a Consultation

If you are looking to change a divorce to a legal separation, our attorneys can help. We know there are many reasons why you may not be ready to fully commit to a divorce, and you think a legal separation is the better option.

Contact us today for more information about changing a divorce to a legal separation. We will review your case, and be there for you every step of the way.

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