Alabama Divorce Law

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By DivorcedMoms, Senior Editor - September 24, 2013

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Residency Requirements

In Alabama you must have been a resident of the state for at least 6 months before filing for divorce. The divorce may be filed for in any of the following; the county where the defendant resides, the county where the spouses both resided at the time of their separation or the county where the plaintiff resides if the defendant is a non-resident of Alabama.

Grounds for Divorce in Alabama

Grounds for No-Fault Divorce:

  • Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
  •      Complete incompatibility of temperament such that the parties can no longer live together.
  • Voluntary separation for over 1 year.

Grounds for General Divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Living separate and apart without cohabitation for over 2 years without the husband supporting the wife (divorce must be filed by wife).
  • Imprisonment (for over 2 years if the total sentence is over 7 years)
  • Unnatural sexual behavior before or after the marriage.
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug abuse
  • Confinement for incurable insanity for over 5 years.
  • Wife pregnant by another at the time of the marriage without the husband’s knowledge.
  • Physical abuse or reasonable fear of physical abuse.
  • Lack of physical ability to consummate marriage.

 
Alimony/Spousal Support in Alabama:

Alabama alimony also referred to as spousal support can be granted by court order or through agreement of the parties. Alimony is intended to preserve the economic status of both parties, as it existed during the marriage.

Spousal support or maintenance in Alabama can be awarded based on these factors:

  • Duration of the marriage.
  • Earning capacity of both parties.
  • Age, as well as physical, mental, and emotional state of each party.
  • Other income, including but not limited to interest and dividends.
  • The contribution by one spouse to education and furtherance of career of the other.
  • The conduct of the parties (by Alabama statute, misconduct by either party can be. considered in determining whether to award alimony).
  • The contribution of one spouse as a homemaker.
  • Any other factors the court determines relevant.

Termination of Alimony in Alabama:

Alimony in Alabama terminates upon the death of either spouse, or the remarriage or cohabitation of the receiving spouse. In Alabama for cohabitation to be sufficient to terminate alimony, it must show permanence, for example sharing a dwelling, ceasing to date others, contribution of the cohabitant to the support of the spouse that is receiving alimony delivery of mail to the cohabitant at the shared residence and voter registration.


Child Custody in Alabama:

Custody of any children of the marriage may be granted to either parent. Factors to be considered are:

  •  The age and sex of the child.
  •  The safety and well-being of the child.
  •   The moral character of the parents.

The wishes of the child are also a factor to be considered. There is a legal presumption against giving custody to any person who has inflicted any violence against either a spouse or a child. In abuse cases, the judge is required to consider any history of domestic abuse and may not consider the fact that a parent or spouse has relocated to avoid abuse. Alabama officially favors joint custody (but not equal physical custody) if in the best interests of the child and the parents agree. Factors to be considered are:

  • Parental custody agreement.
  • Parental cooperation.
  • Parental ability to encourage love and sharing.
  • Any history of abuse.
  • Geographic proximity of parents.

Joint custody may be awarded. However, if the wife abandons the husband and the children are over 7 years old, the husband is granted custody if he is suitable. Grandparents may be given visitation rights.


Child Support in Alabama:

Child support is one of the most contentious issues in family law, and Alabama child support issues are no exception. When dealing with Alabama child support, it is best if you have a good Alabama child support attorney to help you. But there are also some things which you can and need to know right up front about child support in Alabama, and the Alabama child support laws. While many people don’t realize it, most state child support laws are fairly fixed, and don’t take into account such things as what you or your ex’s actual child-related expenses are.

The child support laws of most states look at only a few factors, and you may find that your Alabama child support award takes into account only:

·         How much you earn.

·         How much your ex earns.

·         How many children you have.

·         What percentage of time the children are under each parents care.

Sometimes, although not often, a court will consider expenses which it may consider extraordinary, however that is the exception, not the rule. In most states, for example, the cost of dancing lessons, sports lessons, or other discretionary extracurricular activities, will not be taken into account when awarding child support.


Property Division in Alabama:

Under Alabama case law, Alabama is an “equitable distribution” state and the judge has full discretion to divide any jointly-owned real estate or personal property, but does not have the authority to award separate property to the husband (regardless of whether the separate property was obtained before or after the marriage).

Courts in equitable distribution states consider numerous factors in dividing marital property; the factors vary from state to state. However, the courts agree on a few basic, non-financial factors that are appropriate to consider:

  • Spouse's homemaking activities, including child care, food preparation, cleaning and laundry.
  • Spouse's forgone opportunities, including not pursuing further education/degrees or a career opportunity.
  • Spouse's social obligations, including hosting or attending social events in support of the other spouse's career.

If a couple can’t agree on how to divide property through pre-trial mediation, a judge will decide. There is no fixed formula for determining what is equitable; every case depends on the individual facts and circumstances.  Examples of factors that an Alabama court will consider in dividing property are: 

  • The length of the marriage.
  • The age and health of each spouse.
  • The standard of living during the marriage.
  • One spouse’s contribution to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other.
  • Services as a parent, wage earner, or homemaker.
  • The source, type, and value of the property.
  • Tax consequences of the distribution.
  • The needs of each spouse, considering both present circumstances and future opportunities to gain income and assets.
  • Other sources of income such as individual retirement, insurance, or disability benefits
  • Living arrangements for the parties children.
  • Any fault of either party that contributed to the breakup of the marriage. 

When negotiating the division of property, you should keep the following factors in mind.

·         The short the marriage, the less likely you are to be awarded a large settlement when dividing marital property/assets.

In Alabama a judge can take into consideration behaviors such as infidelity, drug abuse and domestic abuse if it caused the breakdown of the marriage when dividing marital property/assets. You may be awarded a higher percentage of the property/assets if this is the case in your divorce.

Disclaimer: The divorce law information provided is for informational purposes only not for legal advice purposes. This information is general in nature. Each jurisdiction has specific code and court procedures. A local divorce attorney is your best source for how divorce is treated in your jurisdiction. Before making any legal decisions we encourage you to consult with a local attorney…do not make decisions based on general state divorce law.

 

 

 

 

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