Prepare yourself for what’s ahead by learning about Alabama divorce laws
Initiating a divorce is a life-altering decision that comes with many inevitable consequences. It is a decision that should not be made lightly or hastily. Alabama divorce laws cite the following as grounds for divorce:
- Cruelty or violence
- Drug/alcohol addiction after marriage
- Insanity (in mental hospital for five successive years)
- Pregnant at time of marriage without husband’s knowledge
- Imprisonment for two years if sentence is seven years or longer
- Crime against nature with mankind or beast before or after marriage
- Incompatible temperaments
- Voluntary abandonment from bed or board for one year
- Wife lived apart for two years without husband’s support while she’s residing in state
- At time of marriage, incapacitated from entering married state
As in many other states, Alabama divorce laws also allow for a “no fault” divorce, meaning that “there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and that further attempts at reconciliation are impractical or futile and not in the best interests of the parties or family.” Neither side is obligated to prove any specific wrongdoing in order to get divorced.
Divorce has many familial, legal, emotional and financial consequences, to name a few. It is important to consider and weigh all of these. If you find yourself in a situation that causes you to consider initiating a divorce, especially if it would be a no fault divorce, there are four important things to do before you decide.
It will be helpful to learn everything you can about divorce proceedings beforehand. Alabama divorce laws set certain requirements for residency, filing, distribution of property, child support, alimony, etc. Having a basic understanding of each of these things as well as the legal terminology will help you get through each step. You will want to have a grasp on what to expect from the process, the timeline, and how to best support your children. Considering your own emotional health is also important- establish a solid support system that you can rely on. A consultation with a knowledgeable family law attorney can answer many of these questions for you.
Consider the Kids
Divorce is difficult on the whole family, but especially on children who don’t have a choice and may not fully understand what’s going on. Do your best to set aside differences while your children are present to create a stable, peaceful environment. Reassure them that they are loved and will be cared for. When you are alone with them, don’t speak poorly of the other parent.
Regarding custody, Alabama divorce laws apply 12 factors to decide who gets custody of the children:
- The sex and age of each child;
2. The emotional, social, moral, material, and educational needs of each child;
3. The respective home environments offered by each party;
4. The characteristics of each party seeking custody, including age, character, stability, mental and physical health;
5. The capacity and interest of each parent to provide for the emotional, social, moral, material and educational needs of the children;
6. The interpersonal relationship between each child and each parent;
7. The interpersonal relationship between the children;
8. The effect on the child of disrupting or continuing an existing custodial status;
9. The preference of each child, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity;
10. The report and recommendation of any expert witnesses or other independent investigator;
11. Available alternatives; and
12. Other relevant matter the evidence may disclose.
Assess Marital Finances
Alabama divorce laws result in what’s called “equitable distribution” of assets. This means that assets and debts are not necessarily divided equally, but fairly.
According to divorcenet.com, some examples of factors that an Alabama court will consider in dividing property are:
- the length of the marriage
- the age and health of each spouse
- the standard of living during the marriage
- one spouse’s contribution to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other
- services as a parent, wage earner, or homemaker
- the source, type, and value of the property
- tax consequences of the distribution
- the needs of each spouse, considering both present circumstances and future opportunities to gain income and assets
- other sources of income such as individual retirement, insurance, or disability benefits
- living arrangements for the parties children, and
- any fault of either party that contributed to the breakup of the marriage.
A publication by the Alabama State Bar states, “Because the divorcing husband and wife are most familiar with their own property, the divorcing couple should work out a division of assets that is acceptable to both and incorporate the agreement into the divorce decree. While a court is not necessarily bound by an agreement for division, such property settlements are looked upon with favor. If no agreement is provided, the court will make the division based on the needs and interests of the parties as shown through testimony at trial. The division of property between the husband and wife and awarding of alimony and child support payments often result in adverse and unexpected tax consequences that may be avoided with proper planning.”
Before initiating a divorce it’s in your best interest to have a record of all income, debt, bank accounts, retirement plans, mortgages, valuables, etc. Be sure to make copies of all financial documents and keep them in a safe place.
Retain a Lawyer
Unless you are already an expert in Alabama divorce laws, hiring a family law attorney is the best way to navigate the legal aspects of divorce. Your divorce attorney can help you make difficult decisions, offer sound legal advice, and inform you of your rights and responsibilities.
The lawyers at The Alabama Law Group want to help you through this difficult process. They are ready and willing to guide you from start to finish, make sure all the bases are covered and answer questions along the way. Contact The Alabama Law Group today!