Although Alabama is considered to be one of the most conservative states in the country, it still has no-fault divorce grounds. Alabama has a divorce rate of 4.9 per 1,000 population, which makes it 6th highest in the nation.
Since annulment is a relatively expensive and time consuming process, divorce is a much preferred option. Furthermore it’s also difficult to find and meet the pertinent reasons of annulments. Where as, in some cases annulment is chosen for its reason that it makes it easy to remarry. Annulment is also opted for if the marriage is already null and void. This makes the case contestable and the annulment grounds easy to prove.
Divorce Grounds in Alabama
Alabama is facing a hike in the divorce rates. Divorce grounds in Alabama are:
No-Fault Divorce Grounds in Alabama
No-fault divorce grounds in Alabama are:
Both of the spouses can file for divorce if they do not find the other spouse compatible.
Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage
Irretrievable breakdown of marriage is a valid divorce ground in Alabama. Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage stands for a marital relationship’s breakdown beyond any prospect of reconciliation. You and your spouse can file for divorce if so is the case under this divorce ground.
Voluntary abandonment is when one or both of the spouses voluntarily end their physical relationship, for a period of one or more years. After one year, this will be a valid no-fault ground for divorce in Alabama.
Fault Divorce Grounds in Alabama
Following are the fault divorce grounds in Alabama:
Physical & Incurable Incapacitation
Physical and incurable incapacitation is a legitimate fault divorce ground in Alabama. Both physical and financial incapacitation will be included in this divorce ground.
If a person is involved in sexual relationship with a person other than his/her lawful partner, his/her spouse can file for divorce. Adultery is the most common fault divorce ground in Alabama.
Imprisonment of one of the spouses resulting in separation of both of the spouses for an extended time period is also another legitimate fault divorce ground in Alabama. Since the normal married life can not be continued, the affected spouse can file for divorce.
If one of the spouses is addicted to drugs i.e. alcohol, opium, morphine or cocaine, which can lead to mental incapacitation for a time period (short or long), the other spouse can seek divorce. It is a major divorce ground in Alabama.
Marriage is a relationship between two physically and mentally fit persons. Under this divorce ground in Alabama, if either of the spouses is insane and is unable to perform his/her duties as a spouse and the insanity is incurable marriage can be terminated.
Domestic Violence or Abuse
Domestic violence is the most common divorce ground in Alabama. It is not restricted to men only, women also commit domestic violence.
Pregnancy at the Time of Marriage
If a husband comes to know that his wife is pregnant by someone else at the time of marriage, he can divorce his wife. This divorce ground is not a common one.
Contact a professional divorce attorney or divorce lawyer for detailed information regarding divorce grounds in Alabama.
Alabama Divorce Laws
Alabama has following divorce laws:
In case when the respondent is a non-resident of Alabama, the other spouse to the marriage must prove to be a bona fide resident of Alabama for six months prior to the filing of the divorce case. This must be stated in the complaint for divorce and verified.
Documents Required to File Divorce
The essential document needed to start and finalize a divorce according to Alabama divorce laws is:
- Complaint for Divorce and Judgment of Divorce
There are some other documents that may also be required throughout the filing process. These documents are:
- Marital Settlement Agreement
- Schedule for Visitation/Parenting Time of Minor Children
- Affidavit of Residency
- Commission to Take Testimony
- Affidavit Regarding the Children
- Waiver and Agreement for Taking Testimony
Distribution of Property
As Alabama is an “equitable distribution” state, the marital property is divided equally. The court asks the spouses to reach a settlement on property and debt issues. If they are unable to do so Alabama divorce laws consider the court’s declaration of the property award as final. The Alabama divorce court decides what property is marital and distributes a portion to each spouse.
Change of Name or Restoration of Name
According to Alabama divorce laws court may grant both the spouses to use former name on divorce.
Alabama divorce laws necessitates mandatory mediation after the agreement of both the spouses to mediation, if mediation is upon motion by one party. The trial court has the authority to allocate the costs of the mediation services. The petitioner requesting mediation is supposed to pay the cost, excluding attorney fees, unless the spouses make another agreement in which the attorney fees is excluded. In case of domestic violence the court may not order mediation.
Alimony/ Supposal Support
Support from one spouse to the other is not important in all cases. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially is decided on the basis of case to case that is finalized with the consent of both the spouses.
According to Alabama divorce laws, the court has the right to establish maintenance for either spouse and will consider the value of each spouse’s estates, their families and up to 50% of any retirement benefits if the marriage was ten year or longer. The misconduct of either spouse may be considered in determining the amount; provided, however, any property acquired before the marriage is excluded in determining the amount.
Child Support and Child Custody
Alabama divorce laws are in favor of awarding joint custody on the basis of the gross income of both parties. The cost of medical insurance for the children and any work related childcare expenses are also taken in account. There main focus is on the best interest of the child.
Alabama Annulment Laws
Marriage can be terminated by either divorce or annulment. Divorce is the termination of marriage but annulment is the court’s declaration that the marriage is void thus never took place. After the annulment both the partners can remarry. To claim an annulment each state has designed some grounds. Under Alabama annulment laws, the annulment grounds are:
Consanguinity means blood relations. In Alabama, annulment is lawful if the marriage took place between close relatives like, father, mother, nephew, sister, uncle or aunt. If you have married any such like relative, you can get annulment in Alabama according to Alabama annulment laws.
Existence of Prior Marriage
If your spouse married you when s/he was already married, you can file for annulment in Alabama. You must be single to remarry. Otherwise the marriage will be considered bigamous and it is a valid ground for annulment.
You can get Alabama annulment, if you got married before the age of 14. You and your spouse must be more than 14 years to get married, otherwise the marriage will be considered null and void under the Alabama annulment laws.
Under the Influence of Alcohol
If you or your spouse were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when you got married, it won’t be considered a valid marriage. You can get Alabama annulment under this annulment ground.
If either of the spouses cannot consummate the marriage, the marriage is considered void. You can file for Alabama annulment according to Alabama annulment laws.
Fraud & Duress
Duress is, when someone forces or threatens you to get married and, fraud is anything done by misrepresentation or by cheating someone. Any marriage which takes place under such like circumstances can be annulled in Alabama under Alabama annulment laws.
Alabama Divorce Laws Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the minimum residence period that I must complete to file for divorce?
You need to reside at least for a period of 6 months or 180 days (whichever is longer) in the State of Alabama before you can file for divorce.
- What happens if my spouse doesn’t reside in State of Alabama?
Alabama State law requires that the spouse filing for divorce be a resident for a period of 6 months. However, if your spouse resides elsewhere, the divorce process will take longer and will become more complicated.
- What sort of complications?
Under Alabama divorce law, your spouse will have to be served with the Complaint for Divorce. Under the Alabama divorce law, if your spouse resides in another State, than the State will require the services of a special process server to deliver the Complaint for Divorce. Under certain verified circumstances, the Complaint for Divorce can be sent via certified mail. If you don’t know your spouse’s address, the Court may approve the publishing of a divorce notice in the newspaper.
- Does it really take years for the divorce to finalize?
The Alabama divorce law has a 30 day waiting period. Until this waiting period is completed no divorce can be granted. The waiting period doesn’t need to be of the minimum 30 day period and could be longer. If your spouse agrees to a settlement than the divorce can be finalized in a little over 30 days, pending on the signing of the divorce decree by the judge. However, if you and your spouse have disagreements on the terms regarding your divorce, divorce process takes months to complete. In certain cases the divorce process has taken more than a year to finalize. In fact there are cases where the divorce decree was issued after years of legal battle.
- How much does it cost to file for divorce?
The filing fee depends on the county of Alabama you reside. For example in Birmingham, the filing fee for Jefferson County is $154, while in Shelby County the fee is $160.
- How do divorce attorneys charge for services rendered?
There are basically two ways you can be billed by your divorce attorney. Either, the divorce attorney handles the divorce cases on a set flat fee or the divorce attorney charges on an hourly rate.
- How much will an Alabama divorce lawyer?
This depends on four variables. Firstly, the divorce attorney’s normal charges. Secondly, the charges themselves depend on the complexity of your divorce case. Thirdly, the fee depends on your financial health. Lastly, the fee depends on the maturity of your negotiating skill. Depending on these variables, attorney’s fee could just be a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Make sure that the fee arrangement is completely clear to you.
- Under the Alabama divorce law can the Court make my spouse pay for my Alabama divorce lawyer?
Under the Alabama divorce law, the Court can award an attorney’s fee in a divorce case.
- Must I hire the services of an Alabama divorce lawyer or can I represent myself in court?
Yes, you can represent yourself in court but, it is advisable to take the services of a practicing divorce attorney.
- Can my spouse and I hire the same divorce attorney?
No, one divorce attorney can’t represent both you and your spouse. Even if the divorce is uncontested both the plaintiff and the defendant are represented separately. You could have the same divorce attorney prepare all the papers and represent yourself.
- Is the Alabama a common law state?
Yes, Alabama is a common law State. Under the Alabama State law, both spouses must fulfill three requirements. Firstly, both of the spouses must agree to be husband and wife. Secondly, both spouses must of course have the mental capacity to understand such an agreement. And lastly, under the Alabama divorce law the couple must consummate this relationship, martially.
- Is Alabama a No-Fault State?
Yes, Alabama is a no fault State.
- How long does a couple have to be separated before filing for a no fault divorce?
Under the Alabama divorce law the couple has to be separated for 2 years before filing for a no fault divorce.