How to get a divorce in Alabama [2023 Guide]

Do you find yourself in a difficult situation where divorce seems to be the only answer? You are not alone – almost fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce, and Alabama is no exception.

The decision to get a divorce should never be taken lightly, but if it’s something that must happen there is guidance available for women navigating the process of getting divorced in Alabama.

While there are many factors involved and every circumstance is different, with some knowledge about the laws of Alabama concerning divorce and other key aspects, you can successfully complete the legal process without any major hiccups.

In this blog post, we will break down how to get a divorce in the state of Alabama step-by-step so you feel informed, empowered, and prepared during your journey through this challenging time.

Grounds for divorce in Alabama

In Alabama, there are five legal grounds for divorce: incompatibility, adultery, mental illness, abandonment, and imprisonment.

  • Incompatibility is the most commonly used ground for divorce in Alabama and is when the two parties in the marriage have become incompatible due to irreconcilable differences that can no longer be harmoniously resolved.
  • Adultery is another popular legal ground for divorce. It occurs when one of the parties in a marriage has had an extra-marital affair or sexual relations outside of the marriage.
  • Mental illness is also a form of legal ground for divorce when one party in the marriage can prove that their spouse suffers from some kind of mental disorder which makes it impossible to continue an amicable relationship.
  • Abandonment and imprisonment are when either party leaves their marital home without any warning or explanation, and imprisonment occurs when one party has been convicted of a crime that necessitates at least three years of imprisonment.

Overview of the divorce process in Alabama

Divorce in Alabama is not always a simple process. It’s an emotionally taxing journey that requires legal expertise and an understanding of the state’s divorce laws.

The procedure begins when one party files a Complaint for Divorce. The other then needs to be served with a summons, and if both parties consent to the divorce, it becomes a more straightforward process.

However, if there is a disagreement between the two parties, issues such as property division, spousal support, and child custody may need to be settled in court – making understanding Alabama’s divorce laws even more crucial in order to ensure the best possible outcome.

Documents required for filing for divorce in Alabama

Documents required for filing for divorce in Alabama include a Complaint for Divorce, which must be filed in the county where either party resides.

Other documents required may include an Affidavit of Indigency or Financial Statement if one spouse does not have enough money to pay court costs; a Family Court Intake Sheet and Summary; any necessary marital property agreement; and proof that either party has lived in Alabama for more than six months.

Additionally, if either party is currently represented by an attorney, they must also submit a Notice of Representation to the court. The divorce proceedings can take several months or even years, depending on the complexity of the case and the willingness of both parties to work together toward a resolution.

Residency requirements for divorce in Alabama

In Alabama, either spouse must have resided within the state for at least six months before filing a Complaint for Divorce in the appropriate Circuit Court of the county in which either party resides.

The person filing for divorce (the petitioner) must be a resident of the county where the action is brought and must have been a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing.

Property division laws in Alabama

Alabama is an equitable distribution state, meaning that any assets acquired during the marriage must be divided equitably in a divorce. This means that property will not necessarily be split 50/50 but instead allocated in a fair and reasonable manner based on the facts of each case. In most cases, this will mean a relatively equal division of marital assets and debt. In some cases, one spouse may receive a greater share of the marital assets or debts in order to achieve an equitable result.

Child custody laws in Alabama

In Alabama, child custody is determined in the best interests of the child or children involved. If a couple cannot agree on a parenting plan, then a court will make the decision after considering various factors such as each parent’s relationship with the child or children, parental fitness, and other issues.

The court may order either joint legal custody (both parents have the right to make decisions about their child’s welfare) or sole legal custody (only one parent has the right to make decisions).

The court may also order joint physical custody (the child lives part-time with each parent) or sole physical custody (the child lives primarily with one parent). 

Alabama law also requires that any order concerning child custody and support must include a provision for periodic reviews of the arrangement. This allows either parent to seek modifications if circumstances change over time. 

Spousal support laws in Alabama

In Alabama, the court has the authority to award spousal support or alimony to either spouse after a divorce.

Alimony is intended to provide financial assistance to a former spouse who may not be able to fully support themselves after a divorce.

The amount and duration of spousal support depends on certain factors, such as the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, and each spouse’s financial resources. 

Alabama law also requires both spouses to provide health insurance for any minor children.

The court may order either parent to maintain health insurance coverage for a child and will also determine which parent will be responsible for medical expenses not covered by insurance.

What is divorce mediation in Alabama, and what are its benefits?

Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process in which a neutral third-party mediator assists two spouses who are considering a divorce to negotiate and resolve their differences.

The parties can craft their own agreement, with the assistance of the mediator, regarding matters such as child custody, property division, alimony/spousal support, etc.

The benefits of divorce mediation include a reduced amount of stress and costs associated with litigation, increased control over the outcome, and an agreement that is tailored to the individual needs of each spouse.

How to access mediation services in Alabama?

Mediation services are widely available in Alabama for individuals and families in conflict. There are different ways to access these services, tailored to your specific needs.

The most common approach is through a family law or civil litigation attorney, who can assist in finding a suitable mediator to facilitate resolution between both parties. Some lawyers also offer in-house mediation services.

Another option is to reach out to your local Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) which provides mediation services for various disputes, such as family and consumer issues, landlord-tenant, small claims court matters, and more.

How to modify a divorce settlement in Alabama? 

If you’re seeking to change a divorce settlement in Alabama, know that it’s possible with mutual agreement. Here’s how to proceed:

  1. Get a family law attorney to review the existing settlement and understand your rights and obligations.
  2. Discuss the proposed changes with your former spouse and reach a mutual agreement.
  3. Draft a written agreement with clear details such as payment terms, amount owed, asset exchange, etc.
  4. Both parties sign and have the agreement notarized to make it legally binding.
  5. File the modified agreement with the court for review and approval.

By following these steps, you can modify your divorce settlement in Alabama.

How to appeal a divorce settlement in Alabama?

Here is how to appeal a divorce settlement in Alabama

  1. File a Motion to Modify or Appeal within 30 days of the Decree of Divorce.
  2. Submit an Affidavit along with the Motion, explaining your reasons for seeking change and any supporting documents.
  3. Schedule a hearing with both parties (or their lawyers) to present arguments.
  4. After the hearing, a judge will issue a ruling either upholding the original settlement or modifying it based on the evidence and arguments.

Summary of the divorce process in Alabama

In conclusion, getting a divorce in Alabama requires careful consideration and a clear understanding of the state’s laws. Whether you are seeking a simple, uncontested divorce or a complex, contested divorce, it is important to have the guidance and support of a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney.

If you are considering a divorce in Alabama, we encourage you to contact us today!

Mariah J

Mariah J

Mariah J is a Paralegal from Sacramento, CA. She graduated from Eastern Gateway College with a Paralegal Business Degree.