Your Rights in an Alabama Divorce

Each state has slightly different laws regarding divorce. Here’s what your rights as a wife are in an Alabama divorce.

Divorce is the formal end to a legal marriage. If you get divorced in Alabama, you are entitled to a fair and equitable portion of your marital property, as well as all of your separate property. Your former spouse may also need to pay you alimony and/or child support, depending on your circumstances.

Property Division

Alabama is an equitable distribution state. In equitable distribution states, the court divides the property in a fair and equitable manner. “Fair and equitable” does not necessarily mean a 50-50 split.

Courts use several factors to decide what is fair and equitable, including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The economic contributions of each spouse
  • Whether or not one spouse contributed as a homemaker
  • Whether or not one spouse supported the other’s education and training
  • Tax consequences
  • Sources of income (including retirement and disability benefits)
  • The needs and arrangements made for children
  • Other similar factors

Before any property division can happen, the court must determine what constitutes marital property. Most assets procured during the marriage are considered marital property, but not gifts or inheritance. Gifts and inherited property are considered the property of the spouse who owns them. Gifts and inheritances belonging to both spouses are considered marital property.

Related: Types of Divorce: What Are My Divorce Options?

All non-marital property (separate property) is given to the spouse who owns it unless that property was commingled during the marriage.

To hold onto your separate property, you may need to prove in court that the asset in question has not been commingled with marital assets.

One way to protect your separate property is to have your spouse sign a pre- or post-nuptial agreement agreeing that the asset in question belongs exclusively to you, regardless of how it is used during the marriage.

Debts

Debts are treated just like assets in an Alabama divorce. Debts are divided in a fair and equitable manner, which may not necessarily be a 50-50 split. The premarital debt of one spouse is considered that spouse’s debt exclusively, unless the other spouse added to it.

Alimony

Alimony is monetary assistance provided by one spouse (the higher-earning spouse) to the other (the lower-earning spouse) after a divorce.

You may receive temporary or permanent alimony in Alabama. The court determines the amount and duration of your alimony based on your unique circumstances.

To receive alimony, you must demonstrate both of the following:

  • You have a financial need for alimony
  • Your spouse is able to pay the alimony

In Alabama, the length of the marriage is a very important factor in determining how much alimony you can get. The longer the marriage, the more alimony you can get.

Other factors that may influence how much alimony you get include:

  • The earning capacity of each spouse
  • This includes whether one spouse’s earning capacity was impacted by being a homemaker
  • The standard of living of each spouse
  • The needs of each spouse
  • The age of each spouse
  • The physical and emotional health of each spouse
  • Existing debts
  • Existing assets
  • Child custody arrangements
  • This includes whether or not the primary care spouse can hold a job while caring for the children
  • Tax consequences
  • Any prior agreements between the spouses

You may receive temporary alimony in Alabama until the divorce is finalized.

Related: 9 Divorce Options: Which is Right For Me?

Child Support

In Alabama, both parents must contribute to the wellbeing of their children, regardless of custody arrangements. If you have full custody of your children, our ex-spouse has to pay you child support.

Alabama calculates child support using the Income Shares Model. According to the Income Shares Model, each parent is responsible for the same ratio of support for their children they would have contributed had they stayed married. Each parent’s portion is calculated based on their individual income.

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