Those looking to file for divorce in the state of Alabama must first make sure that they have all the necessary court information first. 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.
In 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
- Incompatibility of the couple
- An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
- Voluntary abandonment of bed and board for one year
- Incapacitated from entering into the marriage state
- Drunkenness or drug use which is habitual
- Insanity over 5 successive years
- In favor of the husband when the wife was pregnant at the time of entering into the marriage without his knowledge
- 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:
- There will be a discovery process to determine which property and assets are considered marital
- A monetary value will be set on the property and debts
- 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 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.
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.