Alabama Divorce Laws

When a couple in Alabama realizes they no longer desire to remain married, the state’s divorce laws dictate the way in which they can dissolve their marriage. Understanding these laws prior to entering into divorce proceedings will make the process much simpler.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

Alabama allows both no-fault and fault divorces. For no-fault divorces, the following grounds can be claimed:

  • An incompatibility of temperament that makes it impossible for the couple to live together.
  • An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage that makes further attempts to reconcile outside the best interests of the couple or family.
  • A one-year voluntary abandonment from bed and board.

Fault reasons include:

  • A physical incapacitation prohibiting one party from entering into the marriage state.
  • Adultery
  • Imprisonment for two years with a sentence of seven or more years.
  • Drunkenness or habitual drug use.
  • Confinement in a mental hospital for five successive years due to hopeless and incurable insanity with a signed statement of a mental health professional.
  • In favor of the husband: if it is found that the wife is pregnant at the time of marriage without his knowledge and at the hand of someone else.
  • Domestic violence and abuse.
  • In favor of the wife: if the husband abandons the home for two years and does not support her during those two years.

In order to fie for divorce in the state of Alabama, at least one spouse must be a resident. If one spouse is not a resident, the other must be living in Alabama and must have been living there for a period of at least six months. If one of the spouses is in the military, then the couple must determine whether or not they quality to file under Alabama laws. Military family law will need to be followed, and this is best done with the support of an attorney familiar with these specific laws.

Division of Property

Alabama is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that property will be divided in an equitable fashion, which means along the lines of what is fair. If the couple cannot reach a settlement on its own, the court will consider the following factors:

  • The court will first determine which property is marital. The court will not distribute separate property, such as gifts or inheritances that were not used to benefit both individuals during the marriage.
  • The courts will determine if a particular piece of property was brought into the marriage by one of the spouses.
  • Any marital property must be given a value.
  • The property is then divided to each spouse.
  • Marital misconduct is considered during this process.

Each estate is handled on a case-by-case basis, rather than having a set formula that is applied to all couples.

Child Custody

Parents are encouraged to establish their own parenting agreement for their children. When this is not possible, the courts will not favor the mother over the father, or visa versa, but rather will look at each individual case to determine what is the best scenario for the child. Factors considered may include:

  • Moral character and prudence of each parent.
  • Age and gender of the children.
  • Safety and well being of the children.
  • If the husband is abandoned by the wife, the father, if he is a suitable parent, will receive custody once the children reach the age of seven.


Alabama uses the Income Shares model to determine amounts of child support. Under this model, the support amount is determined by dividing the care according to each parent’s income. In some cases, the courts will require a spouse to offer support to the other spouse. This is allowable at the discretion of the judge. Factors considered include:

  • The value of each spouse’s estates, including their families and up to 50 percent of retirement benefits, if the marriage lasted 10 or more years.
  • Misconduct of either spouse.
  • The courts will not consider any property acquired prior to the marriage or by inheritance or gift.