Getting a Divorce in Alabama
Divorce brings many changes to both parties, some of them welcome and some of them not. Even spouses who are sure they want a divorce may still undergo mixed emotions about their ex, and even if the marriage was full of fighting and contentiousness there may be days when you find you miss your ex almost unbearably. You may actually miss the person, or you may miss the life the two of you once shared—either way, this is perfectly normal and most divorced couples admit to these mixed feelings. Remember that your emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are.
This means that if you are feeling an incredible amount of anger toward your spouse for forcing you into a life you did not want or are not ready for, it’s okay to feel that emotion—but not okay to act on it, or to convey that anger to your children. Find a trusted friend or therapist who you feel safe venting to, then leave it at that. Don’t post your negative feelings on Facebook or send your ex nasty e-mails or texts and try to remember that these feelings will eventually pass. The changes you are undergoing can be extremely difficult to deal with, and you will likely go through periods where you alternately feel vulnerable, free, lonely, scared, happy, sad and angry.
Getting Emotional Help During Your Divorce
Aside from close friends and family, you may need therapy or counseling to get you through this rough patch in your life. Often a neutral outside party can see your situation in a completely different and unique way, allowing them to offer truly constructive ways you can help yourself. Of all the times in your life this is truly one time when you need to be kind to yourself. Get lots of sleep, eat a healthy diet, take up an exercise or sport which will make you feel better about yourself and your future.
Take some time to engage in activities which you truly enjoy and will make you feel hopeful about your future. Maybe you have thought for a long time about going back to college—now might be the perfect time to take the plunge. You may be changing homes or even towns or states—all difficult and scary under the best of circumstances, so sit down and take stock of your life before deciding which direction you want to go.
Divorce in the State of Alabama
To file for divorce in the state of Alabama, one spouse must have been a resident of the state for six months prior to the filing of the Complaint. The Complaint is filed in the circuit court of the county in which the non-filing spouse resides or the circuit court of the county in which the parties resided when the separation occurred. If the divorce is uncontested, the couple may file in any county they choose. Legal grounds for the divorce must be alleged in the Complaint. In the state of Alabama, there are 12 statutory grounds for divorce. Two of these grounds are considered no-fault (incompatibility and irretrievable breakdown of the marriage) and are the most-used grounds for divorce in the state. The other ten grounds for divorce in Alabama include:
- Voluntary abandonment for a minimum of a year prior to the divorce filing;
- Imprisonment for at least two years with a minimum sentence of seven years;
- Becoming addicted to a drug or alcohol after the marriage;
- The commission of a crime against nature, with man or beast, before or during the marriage;
- Confinement of one party (after the marriage) in a mental hospital for a minimum of five successive years;
- The wife was pregnant at the time of the marriage without the husband’s “knowledge or agency;”
- The wife has lived in the state of Alabama for two years, living separate and apart from her husband with no financial support from him;
- One spouse has committed violence against the other and the conduct has caused a fear of further violence, or
- At the time of the marriage, either party was physically and incurably incapacitated from entering into the marriage.
Alabama requires a 30-day waiting period after the Complaint is filed prior to the divorce becoming effective. The spouse filing the complaint must provide the other spouse with a copy, and the Respondent has a specific amount of time to answer the Complaint.
Asset Division in the State of Alabama
Some states are community property states, while the majority are equitable distribution states. In a community property state all marital assets are divided exactly down the middle in a 50/50 split, regardless of any unique circumstances of the marriage. In an equitable distribution state, marital assets are divided fairly rather than equally. Property brought to the marriage by each spouse is considered separate property unless the property has been commingled with marital property. An Alabama judge will consider many factors when dividing marital assets, including the following:
- The length of the marriage;
- The monetary and non-monetary contributions made to the marriage by each spouse;
- The expected ability by each spouse to earn a living following the divorce;
- Whether there was any abuse or adultery during the marriage, and
- The level of expected childcare responsibilities for each spouse following the divorce.
Spousal Support in an Alabama Divorce
Unlike many other states, Alabama allows misconduct by either party to be considered in the determination of spousal support. A couple can negotiate alimony or spousal support just as they can negotiate asset division, and in most cases, the court is likely to honor the agreement between the parties. The recipient of spousal support could receive a lump sum amount, or could receive temporary spousal support, rehabilitative spousal support, bridge-the-gap spousal support or permanent spousal support. The court will consider a variety of factors when determining spousal support, including:
- Significant disparity between the income of the spouses;
- The standard of living enjoyed by the couple during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage;
- The earning ability of each spouse;
- The future earning ability of each spouse;
- The age and health of each spouse;
- The conduct of each spouse, and
- Any other factors the court deems relevant.
How One of Our Family Law Attorneys Can Help
Your divorce will not only bring emotional challenges and the stress of change, it is also a legal proceeding which requires the services of a highly skilled divorce attorney. Those who attempt to represent themselves in a divorce will have the added stress of attempting to navigate child support, asset and debt division, property settlement and child custody—all things better left to a knowledgeable professional. You may also need specific financial guidance in order to plan your future, so don’t hesitate to speak with an accountant or financial professional. You are stronger than you think and can meet the challenges which come with change. The Martinson & Beason Athens divorce attorneys can help you through this difficult time with compassion, knowledge and experience—contact us today!