Alabama Divorce Laws

Filing for divorce

If you are considering a divorce in Alabama, the first step you need to take is to file a document called complaint for divorce. This document allows the spouse to file for divorce to the courts under certain conditions.

However in order for the court to agree to grant a divorce there must be genuine reason for wanting a divorce and these are outlined below.

Grounds for seeking a divorce

There are two main grounds that the court will consider granting a divorce and these are no-fault based grounds and fault-based grounds, which are divided as follows:

No-fault based grounds

  1. Incompatibility of the couple
  2. An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
  3. Voluntary abandonment of bed and board for one year

Fault-based grounds

  1. Incapacitated from entering into the marriage state
  2. Adultery
  3. Imprisonment
  4. Drunkenness or drug use which is habitual
  5. Insanity over 5 successive years
  6. In favor of the husband when the wife was pregnant at the time of entering into the marriage without his knowledge
  7. Domestic abuse based on the code of Alabama – Title 30 – Chapters 2.1 and 2.2 www.legislature.state.al.us/CodeofAlabama/1975/coatoc.htm

When applying for divorce in Alabama it is essential that the spouse declare the grounds, as outlined above, on which they wish the divorce to be granted. These grounds must have evidence that support it; otherwise, the court may reject the grounds and dismiss the case.

It is essential that when you petition the courts or you agree to the divorce that you understand the terms and any repercussions that may result from it.

Property division when divorcing

Usually in Alabama, the division of property is worked out by the couple. Courts ask that the couple divide property and debts equally by signing a marital settlement agreement. If for some reason the couple cannot divide property amicably, it will be down to the court to award property division within the judgment of divorce.

If the court awards property division, they will carry this out as equitable distribution and the following approach will be taken:

  1. There will be a discovery process to determine which property and assets are considered marital
  2. A monetary value will be set on the property and debts
  3. The courts will then distribute the assets in an equitable way

“Equitable” however does not necessarily mean that each partner gets and equal share. It means what the court deems to be fair.

Child custody

Child custody may be granted to either of the parents based on the law of Alabama. Several factors will be taken into account and of course, the safety and security of the child will be taken into account. As the courts will take the best interests of the child into account when deciding which parent gets custody and which is given visitation rights, preference by parents is not relevant unless the court decides that it is. If you go to court and want custody then it is in your best interests to prove that you are the most suited for custody and not just go into court believing that you deserve custody of the children.

Child support

Either of the parents may be ordered by the court to pay child support. There are guidelines, which are contained in the Alabama rules of Judicial Administration: Rule 32.

A standard child support guideline form and child support income statement will have to be completed whenever child support is requested by a party.

A procedure will also be carried out for expedited processing in the case of child support cases. Under the Code of Alabama: Title 30, Chapters 3-1, 3-200, and Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration: Rules 32 and 35 your Alabama driving license may be suspended if you fail to pay your child support. Child support will usually be calculated based on the income and such as the amount of taxes paid and contributions to retirement. Usually calculations are worked out on a child support worksheet.