Getting divorced can be one of the most challenging experiences a person may have in life for both financial and emotional reasons. It can also be difficult from a legal standpoint due to the many steps involved. One area of confusion for some couples in Alabama is the difference between separation and divorce.
With separation, two married individuals essentially decide to stay apart for an extended period of time, rather than immediately ending the marriage. The benefit of a separation is that it gives a couple a break from the fighting and frustration they may have been experiencing while living under the same roof. During this break, they can think more clearly about their marriage and the future before making the decision to end the marriage for good.
Divorce, on the other hand, is the dissolution of the marriage. Once both spouses have signed divorce papers and these papers have been delivered to the divorce court, they are technically no longer married. They do not have any rights/responsibilities to one another outside of the ones spelled out in their divorce decree. All of their joint property is divided, and they do not have any legal right to any assets or property that the other party acquires following the dissolution of their marriage.
Although a separation can indeed be undone, a divorce cannot. An attorney can offer guidance so that one can decide whether a separation or divorce is appropriate in one's situation. In some situations, couples decide to separate and then eventually get divorced anyway, but separation is not necessarily a requirement for filing for divorce in Alabama.
Source: seekingalpha.com, "What Is The Difference Between Legal Separation And Divorce?", Russ Thornton, Sept. 28, 2017