Grounds for Divorce in Alabama

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If you are interested in pursuing a divorce, or your spouse has or intends to file, you should speak with an experienced Birmingham divorce attorney as soon as possible. There are many factors to consider before you file for divorce, including grounds for divorce in Alabama. The grounds for divorce are the reason you allege the court should legally end your marriage. You may allege that neither of you are at fault. Or, you may claim that your spouse’s behavior is responsible for your marriage failing. In many cases, this does not impact the outcome of your divorce. However, there are circumstances in which proving fault can impact the property settlement or alimony.

To discuss Alabama divorce law, contact an attorney at Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC by calling (205) 255-1155 or using our online contact form.

At Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC, we believe you should have access to accurate and up-to-date information regarding divorce in Alabama. That is why we created the discussion forum. If you are not yet comfortable talking with an attorney or are pursuing a divorce without legal representations, you can submit your questions in the forum and receive answers from attorneys and other individuals.

We also offer an automated self-help divorce system. For a small fee, you gain access to accurate legal information, divorce court forms, and attorney advice. This can be particularly useful when you are going through an uncomplicated and amicable divorce.

How a Divorce Lawyer Can Help You

In Alabama, you may allege fault-based grounds or non-fault grounds. If you allege a fault divorce, you claim that your spouse’s actions caused the end of your marriage. When you claim no fault, you are saying it is neither parties’ fault that the marriage is over. An attorney will review the potential grounds you may allege in Alabama with you. Your lawyer will also advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of arguing fault versus no fault. In many divorce cases, alleging fault does not provide an advantage. In fact, it may create an unnecessary step without providing you with any real benefit. However, it all depends on your circumstances. If you wish to pursue alimony, proving your spouse cheated on you during the marriage may benefit you. Adultery in Alabama may constitute evidence of marital misconduct, which supports granting the aggrieved spouse alimony.

If you have questions regarding grounds for divorce in Alabama or about how a divorce lawyer may help, do not hesitate to submit questions to our community discussion forum.

No-Fault Grounds for Divorce

Most divorces in Alabama are filed based on grounds of no fault. Many people call this “irreconcilable differences,” though the state does not use those terms. If you wish to file for divorce without alleging your spouse is at fault, there are technically three options under Alabama law. You may allege in the divorce paperwork that:

  • You and your spouse suffer from an incompatibility of temperament and can no longer live together.
  • There has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage such that further attempts at reconciliation are impractical, futile, or not in your family’s best interests.
  • You or your spouse have voluntarily abandoned the marriage.

You may not want to argue that your spouse did anything wrong. Instead, you may simply wish to show the court that the marriage cannot be fixed and that it is your and your spouse’s best interests to separate your lives. In this type of case, you and your spouse can then focus your energy on negotiating the separate issues within the divorce, including the assets and debts included in the marital estate, division of the marital property, child custody, child support, and alimony.

Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce

While most divorces are filed as no fault, there are times when you may want to show your spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. You may wish to prove in a court of law that your spouse’s actions damaged the marriage. Under Alabama Code 30-2-1, you may claim:

  1. Your spouse was physically and incurably incapacitated from entering into marriage at the time the marriage was performed.
  2. Your spouse committed adultery.
  3. Your spouse abandoned you for at least one year prior to filing.
  4. Your spouse has been imprisoned for the previous two years before filing in a sentence that is at least seven years.
  5. Your spouse committed a crime against nature either before or during the marriage.
  6. Your spouse became addicted to drugs or alcohol during the marriage.
  7. Your spouse has been confined to a mental health institution for at least five consecutive years and is deemed incurably insane by a mental health professional.
  8. Your wife was pregnant at the time of the marriage without your knowledge or agency.
  9. Your spouse committed actual violence against you (domestic violence).
  10. As a wife, you lived separately and apart from your husband in Alabama, for at least two years, without his support.

Alabama Divorce Laws for Abandonment

What does it mean for your spouse to abandon you? In this day and age, abandonment by a spouse means your husband or wife literally left you to fend for yourself. In most cases, the major issue is financial, though there is also an emotional component to a claim of abandonment. If you have children, a part of your allegations of abandonment may include your spouse refusing to participate in rearing your children. In extreme circumstances, you may not know where your spouse lives or have the means to regularly contact them.

Abandonment laws in Alabama allow for either a no-fault or fault divorce. Because of the difficulties you face when your spouse leaves, you can utilize abandonment as a fault ground for divorce. Whether or not proving abandonment has an effect on the divorce depends on the circumstances. In some situations, proving your spouse abandoned the family can enable you to seek a greater portion of the marital estate or alimony.

You may also claim that your spouse voluntarily abandoned the marriage and seek a no-fault divorce. In this situation, you state that you consented to your spouse leaving the marriage. This ground for divorce will not impact your rights in regard to marital assets and spousal support.

Divorcing Someone with a Mental Illness

Unfortunately, many divorces involve one or both spouses suffering from a mental illness. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental health disorders can place a great deal of stress on individuals and couples.

If you wish to divorce your spouse because of their mental illness, you should speak with a divorce attorney in Alabama. One fault-based ground for divorce is related to mental illness. However, it is highly specific. Your spouse must have been confined to a mental health institute for five years. A physician at that facility must certify that your spouse is incurably insane. For most divorces in Alabama involving mental illness, this standard cannot be reached. Instead, your best option may be to file for divorce on no-fault grounds.

Alienation of Affection Is Not Grounds for Divorce in Alabama

There is no right to allege alienation of affection in Alabama. In some other states, like Mississippi, you may be entitled to claim that a third party interfered with your marriage, leading to the divorce. In some situations, the third party is a sexual partner of a spouse, though adultery is not required.

Marital Misconduct in Relation to Alimony

Under Ala. Code 30-2-52, if a judge grants a divorce based on a spouse’s misconduct, the judge can grant the other spouse an allowance from the estate, though not including property either spouse had prior to the marriage or acquired through gift or inheritance. Misconduct is often adultery, though not always. Misconduct can also include alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, abandonment, and other forms of ill-treatment by one spouse to another.

This is one of the reasons you may wish to allege and prove fault during a divorce. If you can establish that your husband or wife’s misconduct led to the end of your marriage, you may receive a greater portion of the marital estate or alimony. Though, keep in mind, the judge can consider both spouse’s misconduct when determining an amount that is appropriate. Your own actions may be put under the microscope if you seek alimony based on your spouse’s behavior.

Adultery and divorce typically lead to questions of alimony. This is particularly true if there is evidence that the adultery affected the family’s finances. If you have evidence your spouse spent a great deal of money to have an affair, the judge can take this into account when determining the amount of property and alimony you should fairly receive.

Call a Divorce Lawyer from Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC for Guidance Today

At Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC , we understand how challenging a divorce can be. It affects every aspect of your life, from your day-to-day habits to planning for retirement. We want to help you during this difficult period in your life so that you can have a better, happier future.

To discuss how to file for divorce in Alabama, including the grounds you may claim in your situation, schedule an appointment by calling (205) 255-1155. You can also request a consultation through our online contact form and we will contact you as soon as we can.

If you wish to gather more information before speaking to an attorney, or you intend to represent yourself during a divorce, utilize our discussion forum. You can receive answers to your questions from experienced attorneys for free.

If you would like some help with the divorce process without hiring a lawyer, our self-help divorce center may be the right compromise. Our automated system is available for a small fee, and gives you access to legal information and advice.

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