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Divorce basics in Alabama

There are several grounds for divorce in Alabama, the most common one being incompatibility. Although this is essentially the familiar “no fault” divorce option, there are other factors that determine custody, property division and alimony. Other grounds for divorce include adultery, desertion, prolonged imprisonment, drug or alcohol addiction, cruelty or mental incapacity.

A divorce by default occurs when one side does not respond to the divorce suit filed by the other spouse within the time frame set by the court. A divorce by trial occurs when the other side does respond within the required time frame. In either case, the judge will rule on all pertinent matters of child custody, division of property, alimony and child support based on the testimony of either (or both) party that filed the suit.

A non-contested divorce, however, is the most common type of divorce, in which both sides agree to a divorce, and enter into a written agreement laying out their responsibilities and rights in the divorce.

Other options to divorce

In Alabama, couples can also enter into a legal separation, which falls short of a divorce. In a legal separation, the couple will live apart and the petition will seek temporary child custody, alimony and other support similar to a divorce settlement.

In a separate maintenance, when one spouse, often the wife, requests this arrangement and the husband refuses to financially support the wife and children, the wife may petition the court for a settlement based on the husband’s income and her needs and those of the children.

Property division and child support

As Alabama is an equitable division state, the court will determine a fair distribution of marital property based on many factors, including some of the above grounds for divorce, as well as factors such as who will have primary custody of the children and who is the primary breadwinner. A judge will look favorably on a couple’s efforts to come with their own agreement to divide their assets as part of the final divorce decree.

The court will also determine custody and visitation rights based on what is in the best interest of the children. Included in this determination are the grounds for divorce in the original complaint, character and conduct of the parents, age of the children, their preference, and the financial state of the parents. If the parents have agreed to a custodial arrangement, this will also be factored into the court’s decision.

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