Atlanta, GA asked in Divorce, Family Law, Arbitration / Mediation Law and Civil Litigation for Alabama

Q: What is the law when it comes to separation before divorce in AL? Can you move out immediately?

I am miserable living under the same roof with my spouse. I came clean about being gay, and admitted to an emotional affair - but no intimacy took place. I'm too afraid to leave because he'll say I abandoned my house and belongings. We don't talk, just argue and ignore each other. Should I pack and move out temporarily?

1 Lawyer Answer
Shane Michael Oncale
Shane Michael Oncale
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Licensed in Alabama

A: I cannot tell you how much confusion there is out there on the streets with this concept of "abandonment." Once upon a time (not as long ago as you would think but long enough ago that it doesn't bear more than a few words to address) you had to prove cause to get a divorce. There was not such thing as a no fault or irreconcilable difference/incompatibility divorce. You have to prove adultery, habitual drunkeness, mental or emotional abuse, abandonment or some other fault based wrong doing. That I guess is where the confusion about "abandonment" comes from...and just leaving the home was not enough even in those days unless support and the payment of bills also stopped. I generally advise my clients to stay in the marital home if they can do so and maintain the mental and physical safety. It is a strategic disadvantage to move out as the spouse that remains will likely be awarded temporary sole possession by the court, can change the locks to exclude you, may block you temporarily from removing some things you consider yours from the house, may seek and have the court still have you contribute to household expenses like the mortgage and utilities even though you are not using them all while you are forced to incur your own costs for rent and to purchase replacement items to set up your household. Sometimes though sanity takes priority over strategy and you just have to get out. If so I suggest taking your personal possessions and anything that was yours before the marriage if you have place for it but if not certainly your clothes and personal items. Don't count on being able to get back in after you leave. I would also suggest moving in with relatives if at all possible to minimize additional expenses. Note I said RELATIVES not a friend who you may be accused of having an affair with...that complicates things. Of course if your marriage is over filing for divorce sooner rather than later is the best course. The longer you wait the more "cowboy justice" will take place and the more complicated issues will become.

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