A great deal of criticism has been offered up regarding how quickly some couples push through with a divorce, sometimes closing the deal in less time than it took to plan the wedding.
However, there is also a strong argument to be made for the harm that can be caused by a long-term separation – particularly one without a formal legal agreement.
Filing for legal separation in Alabama is not a required step in a divorce, but it can provide some relief short of divorce that will still allow you to retain your military or health benefits. You may also in a legal separation formalize issues of child and spousal support, as well as property use and division – all without actually getting a divorce, though either party is entitled to sue for divorce at any time.
Some couples live in an arrangement like this for many years with no problems. Sometimes it's for religious reasons, and other times, as we mentioned, the motivation is the retention of certain benefits.
It can pose complications as far as how your children might cope or in terms of new relationships. However, for a lot of couples, it works.
Other times, it's merely an opportunity to ease the transition to an eventual divorce. It gives couples the opportunity to take it slowly and make sure this is truly what they want and need.
What concerns us, however, is that many times, people work out their own non-legal separations. The entire family is sort of left in limbo, with no one in a rush to file for divorce or reconcile.
This goes beyond situations where a couple might take a “cooling off” period of a few weeks or even months. This is where the separation lasts years, with neither side initiating a formal agreement about where things stand legally.
There are a number of reasons why this is generally a bad idea.
The first of those is that couples who live apart have no control over how the assets are managed by the other party. Neither side is privy to what is earned, spent, invested, sold or purchased. If debt is being racked up, both parties are going to be responsible – even if you are in a separate domicile and have no control over it.
This kind of arrangement also allows an opportunity for either spouse to hide assets. While you may think you are on the path to making it work eventually, your spouse could be using this time to hide important marital assets. With you out of the house, that becomes much easier to do.
Also, let's say the circumstances change while you are separated. That's life. Someone loses a job or becomes ill or disabled. The amount of support you might expect to receive could be drastically affected.
Consider also the possibility that you might meet someone new. This could be a good thing for you personally, but seeing as you're technically still legally married, it won't help you when it comes time to negotiating a divorce settlement – even if the love has been long-lost.
And finally, understand that one of the great things about divorce is that it allows you a chance to begin fresh. Many times, people find themselves strengthened in ways they did not previously believe was possible. The power of making it legal should not be underestimated.
If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.
Putting Off Divorce? Ten Ways Long-term Separations Can Do Women More Harm Than Good, Oct. 3, 2013, By Jeff Landers, Forbes.com