In Alabama and the rest of the United States, more couples are choosing to live apart. How will this affect the possibility of divorce?

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It is becoming more common for married couples to live apart, even in different states, due to the demands of career, travel, or for other reasons. A frequent question many of these couples receive when looking to separate is related to how living in different states will affect the divorce process. It is possible to have the courts in one state legally dissolve the marriage for both parties, but certain issues may arise.

Celebrity couples who live apart have become a media mainstay

Many celebrity couples have been featured in the news for finding ways to live apart some or most of the time, even when they are technically married. Reporting on these arrangements has been done regularly in several publications, and the couples explain various different reasons why they choose this lifestyle.

Some couples do this to allow their time with children to be separate from their time together with each other. This essentially allows them to compartmentalize what they are doing on certain days of the week and stay more focused on different relationships at different times. Keeping previous living arrangements works for older, remarried couples who have children from a prior marriage. This leads to less disruption in the lives of the children if they do not have to move or switch schools.

Other celebrity couples have said that living alone most of the time allows them to keep their independence, which can decrease the chances of constant arguing or burnout from being around the same person for too long.  One particular couple had essentially lived apart for over 20 years without issue. The wife said in an interview that she felt more confident and liberated by getting used to doing many routine activities on her own. This particular husband and wife did not have any children, which made the process of living separately for decades much easier.

A book written on the topic says that many successful couples are able to make their marriages work this way because they do not have to fight over scheduling issues or compromise on career decisions. Too much compromise or rearranging schedules for the other person tends to lead to bitterness and resentment over time. Days where the spouses do not see each other actually tend to be the most productive according to those who prefer this lifestyle.

Many older women who have remarried also claim that living apart prevents them from getting pigeonholed into the traditional housewife role where they do most of the work around the house. Not having responsibilities related to cleaning and homemaking will instead allow them to engage in other activities, or work outside the home. This further highlights how couples who live apart have more freedom to spend their own time as they choose.

What will happen when a couple that lives apart wants to get a divorce?

While divorce only needs to be formally filed in one state, issues with property located in different states can become complex when these real estate and assets need to be divided. Your family law attorney should advise you regarding what venue is appropriate and how to go through this process correctly.

Residency requirements to file

At least one spouse must have lived in the state where they are filing for a period of several months to a year, depending on the particular jurisdiction. Also keep in mind that each state has slightly different divorce laws, so one spouse may be treated more or less favorably depending on the laws where the couple will have to appear in court. Lawyers call the process of looking for a favorable venue to file “forum shopping.”

Property that is located in another state

One or both spouses may have concerns about how property that is located in one state will be divided by the courts. In most cases, the laws for property division where the divorce case was actually filed will be applied to property that is physically present in another state. However, it is generally best to file in the state where the couple has to most property to decrease the chance of complications or surprises.

Issues with children

Custody issues will also need to be addressed for couples that have children. Over the years, states have passed uniform custody laws that only allow the state where the children actually live to determine how custody should be decided and take jurisdiction over the matter. This is why it may be important to file for divorce in the state where the children live in order to avoid additional travel and legal expenses.

Get help in the Mobile Alabama area

If you need help with filing for divorce or any related issues in the Mobile area, speak with Jackie Brown, Attorney at Law. You can schedule a consultation to receive advice that is specific to your situation.


Practice Areas

  • Divorce
  • Family Law
  • Child Custody
  • Child Support
  • Criminal Defense
  • Juvenile Criminal Defense
  • Probation Revocations
  • Dependency Actions
  • Child-Custody/Support Non-married Parents
  • Visitation/Father’s Rights
  • Grandparents Visitation Rights

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