Grounds for a Divorce in Alabama
Pursuant to Alabama Code 30-2-1, circuit courts in Alabama have the power to divorce persons from the bonds of matrimony upon a complaint filed by one of the parties on one or more of the grounds mentioned below. In Alabama, there are two non-fault based and ten fault based grounds upon which a divorce can be granted. It is however interesting to note that the fault based grounds are rarely used as the basis or the sole basis for the grant of a divorce in the state of Alabama. If you are going through a divorce contact a Spanish Fort divorce lawyer.
- Incompatibility of temperament is a no-fault ground for a divorce. In order to be granted a divorce on this ground, the court must be satisfied that there exists such a complete incompatibility of temperament that the parties can no longer live together. Incompatibility of temperament pertains to conflicts in personalities and dispositions so deep as to be irreconcilable and to render it impossible for the parties to continue a normal marital relationship with one another.
- Irretrievable breakdown is a no-fault ground which is met when the court determines that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and that further attempts at reconciliation are impractical or futile and not in the best interests of the parties or family. In this ground, the marital relationship as a whole is at issue whereas under incompatibility of temperament, specific acts or conduct of the parties is at issue.
- Voluntary abandonment from bed and board for one year next preceding the filing of the complaint for divorce.
- Imprisonment in the penitentiary of Alabama or any other state for two years, the sentence being for seven years or longer.
- The commission of the crime against nature, whether with mankind or beast, either before or after marriage.
- In favor of either party, when the other was, at the time of the marriage physically and incurably incapacitated from entering into the marriage state.
- For becoming addicted after marriage to habitual drunkenness or to habitual use of opium, morphine, cocaine, or other like drug.
- In favor of either party, when the other, after marriage, shall have been confined in a mental hospital for a period of five successive years, if such party from whom a divorce is sought is hopelessly and incurably insane at the time of the filing of the complaint; provided, however, that the superintendent of the mental hospital in which such person is confined shall make a certified statement, under oath, that it is his opinion and belief, after a complete and full study and examination of such person, that such person is hopelessly and incurably insane.
- In favor of the husband, when the wife was pregnant at the time of marriage, without his knowledge or agency.
- In favor of either party to the marriage when the other has committed actual violence on his or her person, attended with danger to life or health, or when from his or her conduct there is reasonable apprehension of such violence.
- In favor of the wife when the wife has lived, or shall have lived separate and apart from the bed and board of the husband for two years and without support from him for two years next preceding the filing of the complaint for divorce, and she has bona fide resided in this state during that period.
If you have any questions or concerns relating to the no-fault grounds and/or fault grounds for a divorce in Alabama, please contact our divorce attorneys at (251) 948-2168.
Contested Divorce in Spanish Fort, Foley & Fairhope
If spouses are unable to reach an agreement as to the major issues concerning their divorce or there are serious disagreements between the spouses as to how marital assets and liabilities are to be divided or how custody of children is to be shared or one spouse is unable to locate the other spouse, an uncontested divorce is no longer an option.
To initiate a divorce process in Alabama, the spouse seeking to obtain a divorce (plaintiff spouse) must file a complaint for a divorce in the circuit court of the county in which the other spouse (defendant spouse) resides or in the circuit court of the county in which both spouses resided at the time they separated or if the defendant spouse is a non-resident of the state, then in the circuit court of the county in which the plaintiff spouse resides. Further, where the defendant spouse is a non-resident of the state, there is a residency requirement that the plaintiff spouse must meet. In order to file for a divorce from a non-resident spouse in Alabama, the plaintiff spouse must allege in his or her complaint and prove that he or she has been a bona fide resident of Alabama for at least six months prior to the filing of the complaint.
The complaint itself must include the basis on which the plaintiff spouse is petitioning for a divorce. The basis can be any of the no-fault grounds and/or fault grounds for a divorce. Once this complaint is filed, it is then served on the defendant spouse. The defendant spouse then has 30 days to address the allegations in the complaint. In his or her answer to the complaint, the defendant spouse can deny all allegations in the complaint or admit some and deny some of the allegations in the complaint. He or she could also file a counterclaim wherein the defendant spouse can allege any misconduct or shortcomings of the plaintiff spouse. A contested divorce can be resolved in several ways. The spouses can arrive at a settlement at any time after the complaint is filed or the spouses can go through the discovery and trial process and allow the courts to adjudicate the major areas of disagreement.
Alabama Code 30-2-8.1 states that an Alabama court cannot enter a final judgment of a divorce until after the expiration of 30 days from the date of filing of the complaint. Notwithstanding, the court can make temporary orders that might be necessary prior to the expiration of the 30 day waiting period. These temporary orders include orders pertaining to custody, child support, spousal support, visitation, and exclusive occupancy of the marital residence. Once the court has entered a judgment granting divorce, neither spouse is allowed to be remarried, except to one another, until 60 days have passed since the date the judgment for divorce was entered.
If you are considering filing for a divorce or have been served with a complaint for divorce, please call the divorce lawyers at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana, PC at (251) 948-2168 to become more familiar with the process and obtain legal advice. We work with people throughout Alabama, including Spanish Fort, Foley, Daphne, and Fairhope.
Uncontested Divorce in Fairhope & Foley
Alabama recognizes two types of divorce – uncontested and contested. Uncontested divorce is where one spouse files for a divorce on the grounds of incompatibility of temperament and/or irretrievable breakdown of marriage (no-fault grounds) and the other spouse (defendant spouse) does not oppose or contest the divorce. Both spouses are able to reach an agreement on the major issues concerning the divorce, including division of marital assets and liabilities and child custody. Further, the spouses also have to be amenable and available to sign all necessary documentation. There are numerous advantages of going down the route of an uncontested divorce. It is very cost effective, saves time in that there is no need for discovery or a trial, there is likely no need to appear in court and it grants the spouses the opportunity to continue to interact amicably post divorce.
In order to be eligible to file for an uncontested divorce, the following criteria must be met:
- In the event that the defendant spouse is not a resident of Alabama, the spouse that wishes to file for an uncontested divorce must have been a resident of Alabama for at least six months prior to the date of filing.
- The defendant spouse must be available and amenable to signing all required documentation related to the divorce. This necessarily implies that the spouse who wishes to file for an uncontested divorce be able to locate the defendant spouse.
- Both spouses must be in complete agreement on all major issues concerning the divorce. This includes matters pertaining to division of marital assets and liabilities and child custody. Please note that child support is not an issue which can be decided by the spouses. This is calculated automatically pursuant to the Alabama Child Support Guidelines and is not subject to an agreement between the parties.
Alabama Divorce Statistics
The chart below compares the annual Alabama divorce rate – per 1,000- to the national divorce rate. Alabama’s rate is consistently higher than the nation; however, both are trending downwards.
Source: Alabama Public Health
While Alabama has a reputation for a high divorce rate, it stays fairly close to the national average. The U.S. rate of divorce is often skewed, unlike Alabama state data, as not all states keep track of divorce rates year over year.
If you are considering a divorce, please contact our Daphne divorce attorneys at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana, PC to obtain legal advice and to discuss your matter further. We help people throughout Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope, Foley, and all of Alabama.
Alabama County-Level Divorce Statistics
No one enters a marriage expecting separation, however roughly half of all American marriages end in divorce or annulment. The residents of Alabama are not immune from these facts. Interestingly, residents of some counties in Alabama are more likely to experience divorce than others.
The Alabama Department of Public Health compiles marriage and divorce statistics at the county level and a few patterns emerge from these statistics.
The national rate of divorce in the five-year period of 2010-2014 was 3.42 per 1000. That is, for every 1000 residents of the country, 3.42 individuals experienced divorce. In that same five-year timeframe, Alabama held a divorce rate of 3.96 per 1000 residents—measurably larger than the national average. During this time, residents of some counties throughout the state were more likely to pursue divorce than residents of other counties.
For example, Dale County, Alabama, near the town of Dothan, maintained a divorce rate more than double the national average. Dale County sustained an average rate of 8.26 divorces per 1000 residents, with a whopping 11.3 rate in 2010—more than three times the national average.
In contrast, Greene County, Alabama, located outside of Tuscaloosa, averaged a divorce rate of 0.22 and in 2011 Greene County recorded zero divorces. Greene County is the least populous county in the state and is a rural, agricultural community, but the variety in divorce rates throughout the state is not simply a function of population. Over the last five years, the most populous counties in Alabama, (Jefferson, Mobile, and Madison) did not have the highest divorce rates in the state. The below figures offer a snapshot of county-level divorce statistics in Alabama.
- In 2014, Bibb County had the lowest divorce rate with zero divorces followed by Greene with 2 and Limestone with 31 divorces
- In 2013, Limestone County had the least number of divorces at 2, followed by Greene and Bullock counties that tied with 3
- In 2012, Monroe County was No.1 with a divorce rate of .2 per 1,000 residents, followed by Greene and Bullock again at .3 and .6 per 1,000
- In 2011, Green and Monroe had no divorces, placing Bullock County in third place with 3
- In 2010, Green County once again had the least number of divorces with 3, followed by Bullock and Sumter with 7 and 17 divorce.
In terms of population growth, Baldwin County is the fastest growing county in the state of Alabama. That said, it has neither the highest nor lowest divorce rates in the state. In 2010, there were 980 divorces finalized in Baldwin County, representing a divorce rate of 5.4 per 1000 residents. From 2011 to 2014, Baldwin County maintained an average divorce rate of 4.75 which is greater than the national average, but lower than the other counties in the state.
No matter the year, the county, or the state, divorce can be emotionally devastating. Without sound legal advice divorce can also result in financial ruin. If you are considering divorce, legal separation, annulment, or need assistance with child custody, child support, adoption or any other domestic issue, please call (251) 948-2168 or stop by the firm of Caldwell, Wenzel & Asthana, PC with offices located in Foley and Daphne, Alabama.