Alabama Divorce Laws

Arguing couple in a kitchen
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To file for a divorce in Alabama, one party must be a bona fide resident (which must be alleged in the complaint and proven) of the state for six months before the filing of the complaint. [Based on Alabama State Divorce Code - Chapter 2, Section 30-2-5]

Legal Grounds for Divorce

The circuit court has the power to grant a divorce based on the following causes:

  1. If, at the time of the marriage, either party was physically and incurably incapacitated from entering into the marriage state.
  2. For adultery.
  3. For voluntary abandonment from bed and board for one year prior to the filing of the complaint.
  4. Imprisonment in the penitentiary of this or any other state for two years, with the sentence being for seven years or longer.
  5. The commission of the crime against nature, whether with mankind or beast, either before or after marriage.
  6. For becoming addicted after marriage to habitual drunkenness or to habitual use of opium, morphine, cocaine or other like drug.
  7. Incompatibility.
  8. Confinement in a mental hospital for a period of five successive years, if such party is hopelessly and incurably insane at the time of the filing of the complaint;
  9. An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage where further attempts at reconciliation are impractical or futile and not in the best interests of the parties or family.
  10. In favor of the husband, when the wife was pregnant at the time of marriage, without his knowledge or agency.
  11. In favor of either party to the marriage in cases of domestic violence or reasonable apprehension of such violence.
  12. In favor of the wife when the wife has lived separate and apart from the bed and board of the husband for two years and without support from him for two years next preceding the filing of the complaint, and she has bona fide resided in this state during the said period. [Based on Alabama State Divorce Code - Chapter 2, Section 30-2-1]

Legal Separation

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. The court shall enter a decree of legal separation if all of the following requirements are satisfied: (1) The court determines that the jurisdictional requirements for the dissolution of a marriage have been met. (2) The court determines the marriage is irretrievably broken or there exists a complete incompatibility of temperament or one or both of the parties desires to live separate and apart. (3) To the extent that it has jurisdiction to do so, the court has considered, approved, or provided for child custody, and has entered an order for child support in compliance with Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration. [Based on Alabama State Divorce Code - Chapter 2, Section 30-2-40]

Property Division

Alabama is an equitable distribution state, meaning that if the parties can't agree, the property will be distributed in an equitable fashion, not necessarily equally. All property of the wife, held by her previous to the marriage or to which she may become entitled after the marriage in any manner, is the separate property of the wife and is not subject to the liabilities of the husband. All property of the wife, whether acquired by descent or inheritance, or gift, devise or bequest, or by contract or conveyance, or by gift from or contract with the husband, is the separate property of the wife within the meaning of, and is subject to all the provisions of, this chapter, saving and excepting only such property as may be conveyed to an active trustee for her benefit. [Based on Alabama State Divorce Code - Chapter 4, Section 30-4-1, and 30-4-5]

Alimony/ Maintenance / Spousal Support

The awarding of alimony is determined by the need of one spouse requesting alimony and the ability of the other spouse to pay. If fault is a factor in the divorce, the judge has the right to make an allowance to either spouse out of the estate of either spouse or not make an allowance as the circumstances of the case may justify. However, any property acquired prior to the marriage of the parties or by inheritance or gift may not be considered in determining the amount of alimony. [Based on Alabama State Divorce Code - Chapter 2, Section 30-2-52, 30-2-53]

Spouse's Name

Upon request, the wife may resume the use of her maiden name or any previous surname. Upon application of any interested party, the divorced wife may be enjoined from the use of the given name or initials of the divorced husband. [Based on Alabama State Divorce Code - Chapter 2, Section 30-2-11]

Child Custody

It is the policy of this state to assure that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of their children and to encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of rearing their children after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage. Joint custody does not necessarily mean equal physical custody. The court shall in every case consider joint custody but may award any form of custody which is determined to be in the best interest of the child.

In determining whether joint custody is in the best interest of the child, the court shall consider the same factors considered in awarding sole legal and physical custody and all of the following factors: (1) The agreement or lack of agreement of the parents on joint custody. (2) The past and present ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly. (3) The ability of the parents to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent. (4) Any history of or potential for child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping. (5) The geographic proximity of the parents to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of joint physical custody. [Based on Alabama State Divorce Code - Chapter 3, Section 30-3-150, 30-3-152]

Child Support

Child support is determined using the Income Shares model, with the theory that children should continue to receive that same amount of support as if the parents were still together. In making a determination of child support, the court shall apply Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration. (This is a PDF file) [Based on Alabama State Divorce Code - Chapter 3, Section 30-3-155]