Marriage is a sacred institution which sometimes becomes a trial for those ill-suited to the needs of another, or the sacrifices which a marital partnership requires. As a Birmingham divorce lawyer and family law attorney, I have helped many couples through their individual rough patches. Unfortunately, even the best of counseling cannot hold together a relationship that has fallen apart. That is when legal separation or actual divorce become the only alternative, sad to say.
To begin, in Alabama a valid marriage is marked by a number of conditions. Each of these, and as a group, helps to define what is or is not a legal marriage in the state of Alabama. They include the following:
- Nobody under 14 years of age has the capacity to contract marriage
- For all persons under the age of 18, the consent of a parent or guardian is absolutely required
- Both parties to the marriage must be of sound mind
- Each must be able to contract marriage, and
- The parties cannot be related, at least within a prohibited degree as defined by the state
The Alabama Marriage Protection Act, which was made into law in 1998, specifies that marriage is an inherently unique relationship between a man and a women. A marriage contracted between individuals of the same sex is invalid in Alabama. ALA. CODE 30-1-19(b) (1975). Furthermore, the act also holds that the State of Alabama shall not recognize the marriage of parties of the same sex from other states.
Finally, a marriage cannot exist without the mutual consent of both parties. Since consent is lacking if a previous marriage existed, or when consent is procured by duress, a marriage is not valid when obtained under either circumstance. This is when my work as a divorce lawyer must inevietably come into play. Divorce legally separates and divides a family's assets, and in some cases it actually divides the family. But this is a discussion for another time.