Alabama Divorce Laws - What You Need to Know!

Making the decision to file for a divorce is a big step for anyone. Knowing what to expect when you file for divorce can help you to deal with as little stress as possible. Knowing the applicable laws can also help to ensure your rights are protected as you move through the process.

Residency Requirements and Waiting Periods

In order to get a divorce in Alabama, at least one spouse has to be a resident of the state for at least six months. This time must include the six months leading up to filing the complaint for a divorce and the spouse must be a bona fide resident of the state on the date the petition is filed.

Once the divorce petition is filed, there is a 30-day waiting period that must be completed. This means that it will take a minimum of 30 days to get divorced in the state. Once the divorce is finalized, neither party can marry for at least 60 days unless they remarry each other.

Grounds for Divorce

People who want to get a divorce can choose between a fault or no-fault petition. Abandonment, domestic violence, substance abuse, and adultery are some of the claims that can be made for a fault divorce. In contrast, a no-fault divorce is one in which the "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage" is the grounds for the divorce.

It is also possible to use a legal separation as grounds for divorce in Alabama. For this to occur, the couple must be separated for at least two years.

Property Division Standard

The property division standard in Alabama is equitable distribution. This means that all assets and debts are divided according to what is fair. This means that everything doesn't have to be split right down the middle. The only property covered under the equitable distribution standard is property that is acquired during the marriage.

It is possible to for a couple to divide property without involving the court if they can agree on the points of the divorce. This occurs when the divorce is an uncontested divorce.

Alimony, Child Custody, and Child Support

When one party of the divorce seeks alimony, the court will decide on the amount of that support. The alimony award is based solely on the income of the person who will have to pay the alimony. Assets aren't counted to determine alimony payments. The court can count retirement benefits if the couple is married more than a decade. The alimony award can be either a lump sum payment or a regularly occurring payment.

The court considers the best interests of the child when determining child custody, and preset guidelines govern child support. The only presumption for child custody in Alabama is if a wife abandons her husband and their children are older than seven. In that case, the husband is presumed to have custody. With the exception of this instance, it is up to the court to determine which parent should have custody.

There is a lot to think about when getting a divorce in Alabama. In some cases, divorce mediation might help you and your ex to come up with a settlement that works for you. Without both you and your ex agreeing on all points of the divorce, you will have to rely on the court to decide on the settlement.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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