T

he decision to seek a divorce is one of the most difficult decisions a person will make in his or her lifetime. Many people, when they get married, believe the spouse they married will remain their spouse until death. When the marriage falls apart, the effects of the divorce are felt strongly by the other spouse and the children of the marriage.

photo of divorce decree paperwork The divorce can be amicable, meaning that the parties agree to divorce and decide all issues of the divorce including alimony, child custody and support, and the division of marital assets or contentious meaning no agreement on any of the issues requiring court intervention to resolve.

This post will only review options for obtaining a civil divorce in Southeastern Alabama. For information about obtaining a religious divorce contact your rabbi, priest, pastor, or other spiritual leader for guidance.

Pre Divorce Procedures

There are administrative steps that must be taken by couples in Alabama when seeking a divorce in Alabama. These steps are similar to the requirement that the parties obtain a marriage license prior to getting married. Prior to filing for divorce the couple must demonstrate that they lived in Alabama, got married in Alabama, or were separated in Alabama. Next, after filing for divorce, the parties must wait thirty days before the divorce action can formerly commence in court. Parties typically file actions for divorce in the county where they live.

Filing

Divorce actions commence with the filing of a summons and complaint. These documents formerly notify the spouse a divorce action started and state the claims under which the spouse seeks to dissolve the marriage. The other spouse is the defendant and he or she must serve a response or answer pursuant to the law. The parties can agree to fault and only litigate the financial settlement and child custody and support parts or they can contest all aspects of the divorce.

Grounds for Divorce

Alabama permits couples to divorce under one of twelve possible grounds. The statutory grounds include the following circumstances:

  1. The wife has lived separate and apart from husband for at least two years without support from him
  2. One of the spouses is a victim of domestic violence at the hands of the other spouse
  3. The pregnancy of wife at time of marriage without the husband’s knowledge
  4. Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
  5. Mental hospital confinement
  6. Incompatibility of temperament
  7. Becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs
  8. Crime against nature, with man or beast, before or during marriage
  9. One of the spouses is imprisoned for at least 2 years with a minimum sentence of 7 years
  10. Voluntary abandonment for over a year
  11. Adultery
  12. Either party was physically and incurably incapacitated at the time parties married;

Alimony actions seek to declare the marriage null and void; divorce actions dissolve the marriage.

Property Division

Alabama is an equitable distribution state meaning the assets and liabilities of the parties upon dissolution of the marriage are divided fairly and equitably. The spouses keep any separate property they owned prior to entering the marriage and split marital assets equitably. Considerations of alimony, or maintenance to one of the spouse, are also decided using this fair and equitable standard. Factors like length of marriage and the contributions of the spouses to the overall financial status of the family, among others are evaluated to make a final determination.

Child Support and Custody

Parties can agree to joint and separate legal custody and visitation arrangements for the minor children of the marriage. When there is no agreement, the court will apply the best interest of child standard found in Ex. Parte: Devine v. Devine (1981).

Child support is based on the Income Shares Model meaning both parents are required to support their children pursuant to their means with the non-custodial parent making the payment to the custodial spouse directly or by income execution order.

Divorce Lawyers in Central Alabama

If you are contemplating filing for divorce in Southeastern Alabama, including the city of Birmingham, or you have been served with divorce papers by your spouse, you should consult a divorce lawyer to understand your rights and responsibilities as you legally end your marriage.

Massey, Stotser & Nichols, PC is a full service, Birmingham, Alabama law firm that serves clients in the cities of Birmingham, Alabaster, Ashville, Bessemer, Clay, Fultondale, Gardendale, Homewood, Hoover, Leeds, Moody, Mountain Brook, Oneonta, Pelham, Pell City, Pinson, Springville, Trussville, and the surrounding areas. Visit our website at msnattorneys.com for more information about our business law, family law, and accident and injury law practice groups.

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