Grounds for divorce in Alabama

What are Grounds for Divorce in Alabama?

If a couple in Alabama wants to split up, they can get legally separated or divorced. In order to get a divorce in Alabama, parties must meet certain requirements. For example, at least one spouse must be a resident of the Yellowhammer state and must have resided in the state for at least six months before filing. After the filing, there is a 30-day waiting period before the divorce can become effective.

Every divorce case in Alabama must declare grounds. Alabama recognizes both no-fault and fault-based divorces.

No-Fault Divorces

A no-fault divorce is the easiest to obtain. This type of divorce does not require either party to show proof that the other is responsible for the marriage breaking down, and it can be based on one of the following grounds:

  • The marriage is “irretrievably broken” to the point where attempts at reconciliation are futile (i.e., the spouses have irreconcilable differences);
  • The temperaments of the spouses are incompatible to the point where they can no longer live together (i.e., the spouses don’t get along anymore).

Irretrievable breakdown and incompatibility are the most common grounds used for a divorce in Alabama.

Fault-Based Divorces

If a spouse wants the court to grant a divorce based on the behavior of the other spouse, they can ask for a fault-based divorce. This type of divorce is more complicated, and it requires the plaintiff spouse to prove that the defendant spouse engaged in certain behaviors that warrant the divorce.

In Alabama, there are several acceptable grounds for a fault-based divorce. These include:

  • Either spouse committed adultery;
  • Commission of a crime against nature either before or after the marriage; 
  • Imprisonment for two years with a sentence of at least 7 years;
  • Habitual drunkenness or habitual use of certain controlled substances;
  • One of the spouses is physically or emotionally abusive;
  • Voluntary abandonment of the marriage for at least one year;
  • A mental illness that causes a spouse to be institutionalized for at least five consecutive years, and the spouse is incurably mentally incapacitated;
  • At the time of the marriage, the wife did not tell her husband that she was pregnant.

If you are considering a fault-based divorce, be prepared to present evidence to the court to substantiate your claims. In some cases, this may be fairly easy to do; such as when a spouse has abandoned the marriage for a year. However, if grounds for the divorce is something like adultery, this might be more difficult to prove. All of these factors should be taken into account when deciding grounds for your divorce.

No-Fault vs. Fault-Based Divorces in Alabama

The fact that Alabama allows no-fault divorces means that neither party can stop a divorce if the other is determined to go through with it. One spouse can slow it down and make it more unpleasant and expensive, and there are times when a court might even order a temporary separation before allowing a divorce to go through. But ultimately, a spouse who is determined can make a divorce happen, even if the other spouse fights them every step of the way.

In a large number of divorce cases, it makes sense to choose the no-fault option. There are some instances, however, when it might be beneficial for one spouse to seek a fault-based divorce. For example, one of the factors Alabama courts can consider when determining whether to award alimony (and how much is to be awarded) is the conduct of both spouses and whether that conduct led to the divorce. So, if adultery was the cause of the divorce, this may be one of the factors considered when the court decides if alimony should be awarded.

Speak with an Experienced Alabama Family Law Attorney

Dissolving a marriage is one of the most emotional and heart-wrenching actions individuals ever have to take. If you are considering a divorce, you need strong legal counsel by your side to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected during the process. At Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson, LLP, we have extensive experience representing clients for divorce and other family legal matters in Alabama. We understand that this is a difficult time, and we work closely with our clients to listen and understand their unique needs and concerns, so we can develop the legal solution that works best for them.

For a personalized consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (334) 731-7693. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our Auburn office at your convenience.