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 our Birmingham family law attorneys by calling (205) 255-1155 or using our online contact form.

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.

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.

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, 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.

What are the grounds for divorce in Alabama

Alabama law has 12 grounds for divorce, and the divorce grounds must be plead as a jurisdictional requirement. However, the divorce complaint need not state with any real particularity the details of any divorce grounds.


This is basically the inability to facilitate copulation, such as impotency, and being unable to perform sexual duties of a marriage.


This is sex with someone outside the marriage bed. There must be proof of at least one act of sexual intercourse with the intent to continue having sex outside the marriage. Technically, one instance of sexual misconduct outside the marriage is not enough to constitute legal authority to grant a divorce based upon adultery.
Adultery is one of the most plead actions for divorce in Alabama. Adultery may be inferred from the circumstances. Evidence cannot simply be a conclusion. If adultery is alleged in the divorce complaint itself, acts of adultery after the filing of divorce may be admissible in court as evidence of adultery. A divorce defendant who has been accused of adultery may decline to answer questions about the affair as a privilege against self-incrimination and their Fifth Amendment Rights.

A divorce in Alabama may be granted if a party has abandoned the marital home for 1 year previous to the filing of a divorce complaint. To constitute abandonment, the spouse must leave without the other party’s consent, without cause, and have no intention to return.

Yes, you can get divorce if your spouse goes to prison for two years and has a sentence of over seven years.

Habitual Drunkenness/Addiction
A marriage in Alabama may be dissolved and a divorce granted if a spouse becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs after the marriage. Frequently drinking in excess has been held sufficient enough to grant a divorce based upon drug addiction and habitual drunkenness.

Incompatibility of Temperament
A divorce in Alabama may be granted after testimony that the parties can no longer live together as husband and wife. Incompatibility refers to deep conflicts in personalities and dispositions that make it impossible for the parties to continue the marriage.
A common ground for divorce cited in Alabama proceedings, neither party must be guilty of misconduct or responsible for the divorce. Also, a spouse cannot deny a divorce in Alabama simply because they do not wish to be divorced if incompatibility has been established.

No surprise that you may seek divorce from your spouse if they are confined to a mental hospital for five successive years.

Irretrievable Breakdown
A divorce may be granted under this section when there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and that further attempts at reconciliation are impractical or futile and not in the best interest of the parties or family. Most complaints for divorce in Alabama include this subsection along with the Incompatibility of Temperament pleading.

If your wife gets pregnant at the time of the marriage and you didn’t cause it, you can get divorced. The child becomes bastardized. Obviously, this will likely require a DNA test if the wife contests the paternity of the child at the time of marriage.

If you commit violence against your spouse, not surprisingly, this is ground for divorce in Alabama. Even the apprehension of violence is enough to utilize this section.

How an Alabama Divorce Begins

An Alabama divorce begins by filing a divorce complaint in the proper jurisdiction. A divorce may be filed in the county where the defendant resides, the county where the parties resided at the time of separation, or if the defendant is a non-resident, in the county where the plaintiff resides. When both parties are residents, a divorce complaint may be filed in either county in which defendant resides or where the parties separated.
The divorce complaint must then be served upon the defendant to establish jurisdiction over the divorce.

Service of Process
After a divorce complaint is filed the defendant must be served with the complaint. Service is often made by the County Sheriff or private process server. Service is completed by delivering a copy of the divorce complaint and summons to the divorce defendant. Service may also be accomplished by certified mail. If the whereabouts of the divorce defendant are unknown, service by publication is available.

Default Divorce

A plaintiff who has filed for a divorce in Alabama may file for a default judgement 30-days after service of process on a non-responsive defendant. Thus, a defendant who has been served a complaint for divorce must answer the divorce complaint with 30 days or risks a default judgement being entered against them without further notice from the court.

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.

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