To file in Alabama, at least one spouse must be a resident for at least 6-months before the Complaint for divorce is filed. In the complaint, the filing party must allege a proper legal reason for ending the divorce (whether this is a “fault” or “no-fault” divorce). There are 12 grounds for divorce in Alabama but the most commonly used are:

  • Incompatibility of temperament prohibiting the spouses from living together any longer, and
  • Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage 

In addition to a required legal reason, the Complaint for Divorce should also address any other issues involved in the divorce such as dividing property, child custody, child support, and alimony. 

What is the Difference Between Divorce and Separation in Alabama?

A legal separation agreement tends to function a lot like a divorce but it does not end the marriage. Similar to a divorce, a separation agreement can be used to resolve issues such as dividing property, child custody, child support, and alimony. If accepted by the judge, a separation agreement is legally binding and can be enforced in court. Generally, a judge will accept a separation agreement if it is agreed to in writing by both spouses and the agreement appears to be fair.

What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?

To start the process for a divorce, a Complaint for Divorce must be filed by one of the spouses (or both spouses in the case of a dissolution) in a proper Alabama local court. Divorce and dissolution packets can be found on the Alabama Courts website.

Marital Property vs. Separate Property

Alabama is an “Equitable Distribution” state, which means that unless the couple comes to their own agreement on dividing the property, the court will divide the marital property “fairly” between the spouses. Marital property, also known as community property, consists of most of the assets and debts that a couple acquires during the marriage and is subject to division during the divorce. Separate property, is the property that a spouse owned before the marriage or received during the marriage as a gift or inheritance. This distinction is important because separate property is usually not subject to division in divorce. It is important to know that separate property can become community property through actions like placing your spouse on the title of the property.

What Should You Do if There are Children Involved?

As part of the divorce the judge will issue a child custody order and parenting plan that will detail the parental rights and obligations over the marital children. In assigning custody, the court will balance a number of factors. Child custody disputes can have complicated legal issues and are extremely stressful for both parents and children, so if you have concerns about child custody it is important to talk to an experienced family law lawyer.  

Regardless of who retains custody after a divorce or separation, both parents are responsible for supporting the children of the marriage. At the very minimum, the court will order the non-custodial parent to make child support payments. But both parents are responsible for either providing health insurance for their children or sharing the cost of healthcare. 

Do You Need to Pay Spousal Support?

When the judge orders a divorce, it is possible that he will order one of the spouses to make temporary spousal support payments or alimony payments. A judge may impose spousal support if he finds that it is fair based on a number of factors including the length of the marriage, the income of the individual spouses, who has custody of the children, etc. Spousal support payments are temporary and can be ended if the spouse receiving the payment remarries or begins to live with another partner.

Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally charged experience and involves complicated legal issues related to property division, child custody, child support, spousal support, etc.  If you are looking for an attorney to aid you navigate this process, then contact a local Alabama divorce lawyer today to get the help you need.