Alabama Divorce Laws

Divorce in Alabama

Those looking to file for divorce in the state of Alabama must first make sure that they have all the necessary court information. Some divorce cases are not handled under the Circuit Court, so checking which court will have jurisdiction is key. Individuals must also meet the residency requirements of Alabama, which are only necessary if one or both of the individuals involved have recently moved or are soon to move.

Filing Requirements in Alabama

Alabama has specific requirements for how to file for divorce. Where the individuals live and for how long can determine how a divorce proceeding will follow. The state requires that at least one of the individuals involved be an Alabama resident for a minimum of six months. The other individual may be a resident of another state at the time of filing.

Alabama Divorce LawsIn most circumstances, divorce cases are filed through the defendant’s county system, according to Alabama Code Title Thirty, Chapters 2-4 and 2-5. Divorce complaints can be filed in three different circuit courts, all of which depend on residency. The county circuit court where the defendant has residency is the first option, and the county circuit court where the individuals decided to separate is another option. The third option in Alabama is for non-residents and may be filed to the county circuit court where the other individual resides.

All divorce cases are handled through state law, and because of this residency in the state of Alabama is important so that the case can be handled in the proper court.

Filing for Divorce

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

Alabama has guidelines for filing for divorce, all of which will need to be strictly followed. Some documents will be present in all divorce cases while others will only exist in some cases and not in others. Dividing financial statements and deciding support payments can be the most difficult portion of a divorce case. If an agreement cannot be reached between the two individuals prior to the divorce, the couple will then be subject to a judge’s decision.

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

Grounds for Alabama Divorce

The divorce complaint is the initiator in divorce cases. One spouse will file for marriage termination from another spouse under specific documentation and on specific grounds. However, these grounds must be valid for the state of Alabama, or else the circuit court will not terminate an outstanding marriage. The grounds for divorce must be supported by testimony and evidence to stand in a court of law or the case will be dismissed.

Alabama has ten different kinds of grounds for terminating a marriage. The first set of grounds is called no-fault grounds and includes irretrievable breaking of a marriage, incompatibility, and voluntary removal from board and bed for more than one year. The second set of grounds is called fault grounds and includes adultery, incapacitation through entering into a marriage, habitual drug usage or drunken behavior, imprisonment, abuse of a domestic nature, five years of coincided insanity, and entering into marriage without the knowledge that the wife was at the time carrying a child–only for husband defendant cases.

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

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 supports 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 you understand the terms and any repercussions that may result from it.


In cases of abandonment, the former may provide additional advantages when it comes to disputes over the division of assets and spousal support. To claim a fault divorce based on abandonment, one must demonstrate that their spouse left them and neglected to fulfill financial and emotional obligations as a partner. This entails providing evidence that the other party has ceased to reside in the marital home or contribute financially without reasonable cause.

Alternatively, individuals may opt for a no-fault divorce by asserting they consented to their spouse leaving the relationship. Though this does not influence the outcome of asset division and alimony decisions, it is usually simpler to prove given that the legal burden is less stringent than in cases involving fault divorces.

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 an 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 income such as the amount of taxes paid and contributions to retirement. Usually, calculations are worked out on a child support worksheet.

FAQs on Divorce in Alabama

What are the 12 grounds for divorce in Alabama?

Alabama provides 12 legal grounds for a divorce, which range from adultery and incompatibility to abandonment and incurable mental illness. Additionally, no-fault divorces can be sought if both parties agree to mutually dissolve the marriage, or if there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for at least six months.

Do you need grounds for divorce in Alabama?

Yes, grounds for divorce must be established before a court will grant a divorce in Alabama. The 12 legal grounds recognized by Alabama courts include adultery, incompatibility, abandonment, incurable mental illness, imprisonment of a spouse, continuous alcoholism or drug abuse, domestic violence, or when both parties mutually agree that the marriage is broken beyond repair.

What is a wife entitled to in a divorce in Alabama?

In Alabama, the division of marital assets and liabilities is governed by equitable distribution laws. During a divorce, the court generally considers various factors – such as each spouse’s contributions to the marriage – to ensure a fair division of assets and liabilities. Depending on the circumstances, a wife may be entitled to alimony payments from her husband, may be able to keep specific pieces of property (such as a house or vehicle) that she is awarded during the division process, or receive financial compensation for lost wages.

How long do you have to be separated in Alabama to get a divorce?

In order to obtain a divorce in Alabama, spouses must live apart for at least 6 months. If only one spouse wishes to seek a divorce, they must typically prove that the other party has committed some form of misconduct (such as adultery or abandonment). However, couples can mutually agree to waive this requirement and proceed with the divorce immediately if all parties consent.

Is Alabama a 50/50 state in a divorce?

No, Alabama does not use an exact 50/50 division of assets and liabilities during the divorce process. Instead, the court considers various factors to ensure an equitable split. While it is possible for each spouse to receive 50% or more of the marital assets and liabilities, it is ultimately up to the court’s discretion to divide all property acquired during the marriage.

What is the Homewrecker law in Alabama?

According to Alabama law, it is illegal for an individual to entice or influence a married person away from their spouse. This type of offense is known as “alienation of affection” and can result in serious penalties for the offending party. Such offenses are prohibited under Alabama’s Homewrecker laws, which make it illegal to cause any physical or emotional harm to a married couple’s relationship.

Can you date while separated in Alabama?

Yes, you can date while separated in Alabama; however, it is important to note that even though you may be legally separated from your spouse, you are still considered married until you obtain a legally binding divorce decree from the court. As such, engaging in sexual intercourse with someone other than your current spouse is considered adultery and can be used as grounds for divorce.

How much does a divorce cost in Alabama?

The cost of a divorce in Alabama depends on a variety of factors, such as how contested the divorce is and whether the spouses have reached a settlement. Generally speaking, an uncontested divorce can range between $500 and $1000. A contested divorce will likely cost more, ranging from $2000 to tens of thousands of dollars.

Does it matter who files for divorce first in Alabama?

In most cases, it does not matter which spouse files for divorce first in Alabama. However, there are certain exceptions that may apply, such as when one spouse has made substantial financial investments in the other’s property prior to filing for divorce. In such cases, the court may consider this factor before making a decision regarding the division of assets.

Can a judge deny a divorce in Alabama?

Yes. Under certain circumstances, a judge may deny a divorce in Alabama if they see that the filings contain incomplete information or if there are unresolved financial issues between the spouses. Additionally, if either spouse fails to meet any of the state’s residency requirements, the court may also decline to grant a divorce.

How long do you have to be married to get half of everything in Alabama?

In Alabama, the law requires at least two years of marriage before either party can receive a portion of the marital assets. The amount each spouse receives will depend on a variety of factors, such as income history, length of marriage, and any other significant contributions either spouse has made to the marriage.

How does adultery affect divorce in Alabama?

Adultery does not automatically disqualify either spouse from receiving any alimony or division of assets when filing for divorce in Alabama. That said, it is possible for the court to take this into account when making a ruling about an equitable division of assets. In certain cases, evidence of adultery may lead the court to award more assets to one party than the other.

Who has to leave the house in a divorce in Alabama?

In Alabama, there is no automatic requirement for one spouse to leave the marital home during or after the divorce process. Instead, this decision is ultimately left up to both parties. If they can agree on who should leave and who has the right to remain in the residence, then that agreement must be honored by both individuals until modified by court order.

Who gets the house in divorce Alabama?

When it comes time to determine who gets the marital residence in a divorce in Alabama, the court will review all relevant factors and determine an equitable arrangement based on factors like income history, length of marriage, and individual financial contributions. If neither spouse is able to purchase the marital home, then it may be put up for sale and the proceeds split between both parties.

Who gets alimony in Alabama?

Courts in Alabama often award alimony to spouses who are unable to generate sufficient income on their own post-divorce. Alimony will generally be awarded based on factors such as income history and earning potential, with preference given to those who have been dependent on their ex-spouse’s income throughout their marriage. The amount and duration of alimony payments are ultimately determined on a case-by-case basis.

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