How to File for Divorce in Alabama

Filing for divorce in Alabama requires compliance with several basic qualifications before the courts will consider any type of divorce petition. Some of these have to do with residency, while others have to do with situations surrounding the marriage itself. Here are some of the basics that apply whenever a couple seeks to secure a divorce in Alabama.

As with many states, establishing some proof of residency is important in order to obtain a divorce in Alabama. There are several ways that an adequate presentation of residency may be achieved. First, both spouses have proof of being a permanent resident of the state. This can often be accomplished by demonstrating that both parties have a permanent address where one or both have resided for several months. In the event that the defendant in the divorce action is not a resident of Alabama, the other party much have an established residency of at least six months before the state will consider itself to be the proper jurisdiction for the filing of the petition of divorce.

Once residency requirements are met, there is also the matter of determining the grounds for the divorce action. Alabama does recognize both no-fault and fault grounds for divorce. With the no-fault approach, the state will consider petitions for divorce where the two parties confirm that their individual temperaments make it impossible to live as a married couple. The courts will also accept divorce petitions in which the parties agree that the marriage cannot be salvaged and that it is in the best interests of both the spouses and any children resulting from the marriage if the union is dissolved.

Alabama also has a third no-fault stipulation that is sometimes used. If one party voluntarily abandons the permanent residence of the couple, and remains away for a period of at least one calendar year prior to the filing of the divorce complaint, the court will consider this a valid reason for ending the marriage.

Several other grounds for divorce are also recognized in Alabama. As in many states, adultery is recognized as a valid reason for divorce. Drug and alcohol addiction is also considered grounds for divorce, as is a physical or mental inability to enjoy the benefits of marriage. Physical abuse is also considered valid grounds for divorce, as well as any type of domestic violence that is deemed to be life threatening. A man may divorce his wife if it is discovered she was pregnant with the child of another man at the time the marriage took place, and the husband was unaware of the pregnancy. In like manner, a wife who discovers that the husband was aware of a physical or emotional problem that would prevent consummation of the marriage, but chose to not share this information prior to the marriage, can file and receive a divorce with little trouble.

The actual filing of the divorce must take place in the circuit court located in the county where one or both parties reside. After receiving the petition, the court assigns a case number to the action and considers the merits of the case. In situations where there are minor children involved, it is not unusual for the court to require proof that family counseling has taken place before the case is presented to a judge. This is especially true when one or both spouses are members of the military current stationed in Alabama.

In terms of the distribution of property, Alabama is what is known as an equitable distribution state. This means that the distribution of assets must comply with what the court feels is fair in each individual situation, rather than simply dividing the assets equally between the spouses. In divorce actions that are amicable, it is not unusual for counsel for each spouse to work with their clients to arrive at a distribution of property and present it as part of the decree. In like manner, issues of child custody, visitation rights, spousal support, and child support are normally worked out in advance and presented for the court’s consideration. Assuming the arrangements meets with the approval of the court, the divorce is granted and the provisions are considered immediately binding.


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