Back to Basics Grounds for Divorce in Alabama

Posted by Steven Eversole | Sep 02, 2016 | 0 Comments

Divorce is a difficult situation for anyone to become involved in. Most families take the decision to pursue divorce very seriously, especially after the amount of time and resources they have invested in trying to make their marriage successful. According to AL.com, divorcees make up approximately 11 percent of the U.S. population. When things in a marriage begin to go awry after a few weeks or many years, divorce is a much more common option than ever before, but it can still be deeply personal and painful.

Today, most U.S. states recognize two types of divorce: uncontested and contested. Uncontested divorces are those in which the divorcing couple agrees with the other's viewpoint as to how the divorce should proceed. When both spouses are in agreement about the decision to divorce, as well as the terms of the divorce, most states allow a court to grant a divorce. Alabama recognizes uncontested divorces, and such divorces tend to be quicker here and across the country. Contested divorces are more difficult. In a contested divorce, one of the spouse's is either contesting the decision to divorce or the specific grounds of some aspect of the divorce, like alimony or child support payments. Contested divorces can often involve more time and resources because the divorcing couple must work their way through the issues on which they disagree.

Alabama Divorce Residency Requirements

Most states, if not all, have residency requirements for people seeking divorce within that state. These residency requirements were often a way to prevent people from neighboring states for searching for a state that had divorce laws that may have been more favorable to them, or that may have prevented one spouse from being able to properly pursue or defend against such divorce. Alabama is no exception, and requires at least one of the spouses to have been a bona fide resident of Alabama for at least six months prior to filing for the divorce in county circuit court. This residency status must be proven in the initial complaint for divorce in order for divorce proceedings to move forward. After meeting this requirement, spouses seeking uncontested divorces may file for divorce in any county in Alabama that they wish to file in. In contested divorces, the spouse filing for the divorce must do so in the county in which the defending spouse resides or in the county where both spouses resided when separation occurred. If the defending spouse is not a resident of Alabama, the spouse filing for divorce may do so in the county in which she or he lives. There are specific filing instructions to initiate divorce proceedings that must be adhered to once a spouse chooses to begin the divorce process and has ensured that they meet the residency requirements, an overview of which is available by checking the website of the circuit court in the county where you wish to file divorce.

Alabama Statutory Grounds for Divorce

Alabama law allows for 12 grounds for divorce. According to Alabama law, divorce can be granted under the following circumstances:

  1.     Physical, incurable incapacitation of either spouse at the time of the marriage;
  2.     Adultery;
  3.     Voluntary abandonment for at least one year prior to filing for a divorce;
  4.     Imprisonment for at least two years of a minimum seven-year sentence;
  5.     Commission of a crime against nature before or during marriage, either with man or with best;
  6.     Addiction to alcohol or drugs beginning after marriage;
  7.     Incompatibility;
  8.     Confinement of one spouse in a mental hospital for a minimum of five continuous years if such spouse is hopelessly and incurably insane at the time of filing for divorce;
  9.     Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;
  10.  If the female spouse was pregnant at the time of marriage without the knowledge of the male spouse;
  11.  Commission of violence from one party toward the other, or conduct that causes fear of such violence; and
  12.  If the female spouse has lived separate from the male spouse for at least two years in Alabama without support from the male spouse.

Most of these options require a spouse to prove fault in the other spouse that has caused the breakdown of the marriage to the point where divorce is the only option. However, the two grounds used most often are no-fault options that do not require proof of fault: incompatibility and irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Both of these findings are to be determined by an Alabama court based on the individual divorce proceedings.

A no-fault divorce is not the same as an uncontested divorce. No-fault divorces can contain many contested issues, such as child custody and visitation schedules or division of assets. A no-fault divorce simply removes the burden of proving the other spouse has created the conditions for divorce, and does not mean that spouses cannot disagree with each other on the terms of such divorce. No-fault divorces are often a way for spouses to keep private and personal details of their marriage from becoming public through divorce proceedings.

Legal Assistance in Alabama Divorce - Birmingham Divorce Lawyer

If you have made the difficult decision to pursue divorce, it is important that you enlist the help of a Birmingham divorce attorney that has experience handling divorce cases in Alabama. While certain laws surrounding divorce may seem straightforward, they are actually quite nuanced and very complex. Without a sound understanding of how each individual factors affects other factors, it is possible that you may compromise your rights and forfeit what you are owed during the divorce process. Contact Eversole Law to schedule a consultation and find out more about the potential impact divorce might have on you.

About the Author

Steven Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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