Alabama Divorce Laws
The state of Alabama has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how Alabama addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in Alabama, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction over your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
When the defendant is a nonresident, the other party to the marriage must have been a resident of this state of Alabama for six months before the filing of the complaint for divorce.
Complaints for divorce may be filed in the circuit court of the county in which the defendant resides, or in the circuit court of the county in which the parties resided when the separation occurred, or if the defendant is a nonresident, then in the circuit court of the county in which the other party to the marriage resides.
The divorce is typically filed with in county in which the filing spouse lives. (Code of Alabama - Title 30 - Chapters: 2-4 and 2-5)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorce cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Alabama the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
(2) Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and that further attempts at reconciliation are impractical or futile and not in the best interests of the parties or family.
(3) voluntary abandonment from bed and board for one year next preceding the filing of the complaint. (Code of Alabama - Title 30 - Chapters: 2-1 and 2-2)
Filing Party Name: The Plaintiff. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Complaint for Divorce with the county court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Defendant. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: In the Circuit Court for (__________) County, Alabama. All divorce cases in the state of Alabama are facilitated through this court for that particular county.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with an Alabama clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: County Clerk's Office of the Circuit Court.
Property and Debt Division: Alabama is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.
When the spouses do not agree to how their property is to be distributed, the court will do so in an equitable fashion. The court will determine what property is marital and after putting a value on this property, it will distribute a portion to each spouse. The court does not have the right to distribute any separate property that was obtained before or during the marriage. The separate property is, but not limited to gifts and inheritances, unless these gifts and inheritances have been used to benefit both spouses as a married couple. Marital misconduct may be a consideration by the court when distributing the property. (Code of Alabama - Title 30)
Changing Name: The court may grant the wife the use of her former or maiden name upon divorce. (Code of Alabama - Title 30 - Chapters: 2-11)
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
The court has the right to establish maintenance for either spouse in a divorce proceeding. In determining the appropriate amount, the judge, at his or her discretion. The judge will consider; the value of each spouse's estates as well as their families and up to 50% of any retirement benefits as long as the marriage was ten year or longer. The misconduct of either spouse may be considered in determining the amount; provided, however, that any property acquired prior to the marriage of the parties or by inheritance or gift may not be considered in determining the amount. (Code of Alabama - Title 30 - Chapters: 2-51, 2-52, and 2-55)
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Alabama courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
Upon granting a divorce, the court may give the custody and education of the children of the marriage to either father or mother, as may seem right and proper, having regard to the moral character and prudence of the parents and the age and sex of the children; and pending the action, may make such orders in respect to the custody of the children as their safety and well-being may require. But in cases of abandonment of the husband by the wife, he shall have the custody of the children after they are seven years of age, if he is a suitable person to have such charge.
In all cases of voluntary separation of husband and wife, the circuit court has power, on the motion of either party, 20 days notice thereof being given to the other, to permit either the father or mother to have the custody and control of the children and to superintend and direct their education, having regard to the prudence, ability and fitness of the parents, and the age and sex of the children. (Code of Alabama - Title 30 - Chapters: 3-1)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Alabama child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
When the parties cannot agree, the court will apply the state support guidelines which are presumed to be correct unless the court feels a deviation from the amount is appropriate. The court will deviate from the guidelines if the parties agree to do so or it believes it is necessary in order to establish an order that is in the best interests of the children. The parents are required to file an Income and Expense Affidavit along with W-2's to verify income. (Code of Alabama - Title 30 - Chapters: 3-1)
Copyright Notice: These Alabama divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
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