ALABAMA DIVORCE LAW
Divorce can be a difficult time for individuals, but it is important to know and understand the various Alabama laws surrounding legal separation and divorce. A divorce in Alabama is the legal end of the marital relationship between a husband and wife. Each ex-spouse will be considered legally single and able to re-marry. If you are contemplating a divorce or legal separation it is important contact an Alabama divorce attorney.
Legal separations are permitted in Alabama. A legal separation is a court determination of the rights and responsibilities of a husband and wife arising out of the marital relationship. A decree of legal separation does not terminate the marital status of the parties. A separation decree will be granted if jurisdictional and residency requirements for a divorce are met, the marriage is irretrievably broken, and all issues regarding child custody and child support have been arranged for.
Grounds For Divorce
In order to properly file for divorce in Alabama, the filing party will need to state a reason or “grounds” for the divorce. Alabama has both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce.
No-Fault Grounds: When a party files for a no-fault divorce they are stating that the reason for the divorce is neither of the spouses fault. The parties need simply show an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” for no-fault grounds.
Fault Grounds: When a party files for a fault-based divorce, they are stating that the reason for the divorce is the fault of the other spouse. A fault-based divorce requires more specific ground(s) to be established, for instance in Alabama the following may be acceptable grounds: adultery, one party’s “intolerable behavior,” abandonment for more than six months, both parties agreeing to the dissolution of the marriage and living separate and apart for more than one year, or both parties having lived separate and apart for more than two years. It is important to discuss all of your divorce alternatives with an Alabama divorce attorney.
Divorce Residency Requirements
In order to be able to properly file for divorce or legal separation in Alabama, residency requirements must be met. If the defendant in a divorce filing is not a resident of Alabama, the plaintiff must be a resident of Alabama for six months before filing for divorce. Complaints must usually be filed in the county where the defendant resides or, when one party is a nonresident, it must be filed in the county of the resident party or where the parties resided together before separating.
Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures:
There are minor timesaving and paper-saving measures available in Alabama. For instance, waiver of service is allowed if the defendant and a credible witness both sign off on it. Similarly, uncontested divorces can be heard before a court clerk or by sworn statements (rather than having to appear before a judge).
An annulment is a ruling by the court that puts aside a marriage as though it never existed. A divorce or legal separation becomes unnecessary if you obtain an annulment. Alabama courts will grant an annulment under very specific circumstances such as a party being underage, mental illness, same-sex, or incest. These factors may not be exclusive, it is important to discuss an annulment with an Alabama divorce attorney.
Division of Marital Property
The way property is divided in a divorce will depend on the state’s system for property division. Alabama is an “equitable distribution” state; this distinction means that, during a divorce, marital property will be distributed on terms considered to be fair. Note that “fair” does not necessarily mean a 50-50 or equal split. In making the determination of division of property, the Alabama court will consider several factors and the family law statutes. Factors can include contributions of each spouse to the marital estate, the total value of the properties of the parties, the economic circumstances of each party, and the amount of spousal support awarded, if any.
Links to Divorce Statutes
The Code of Alabama, Family Law Statutes