Divorce Laws in Alabama
Grounds; jurisdiction for proceedings; divorce judgment awarded to both parties.
(a) The circuit court has power to divorce persons from the bonds of matrimony, upon a complaint filed by one of the parties, entitled “In re the marriage of _____ and _____,” for the causes following:
(1) 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.
(2) For adultery.
(3) For voluntary abandonment from bed and board for one year next preceding the filing of the complaint.
(4) Imprisonment in the penitentiary of this or any other state for two years, the sentence being for seven years or longer.
(5) The commission of the crime against nature, whether with mankind or beast, either before or after marriage.
(6) For becoming addicted after marriage to habitual drunkenness or to habitual use of opium, morphine, cocaine, or other like drug.
(7) Upon application of either the husband or wife, when the court is satisfied from all the testimony in the case that there exists such a complete incompatibility of temperament that the parties can no longer live together.
(8) 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.
(9) Upon application of either party, when the court finds 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.
(10) In favor of the husband, when the wife was pregnant at the time of marriage, without his knowledge or agency.
(11) 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.
(12) 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, and she has bona fide resided in this state during that period.
(b) When a judgment of divorce is entered, in effect, it is awarded to both parties to the marriage.
(Code 1852, §§1961-1963; Code 1867, §§2351-2353; Code 1876, §§2685-2687; Code 1886, §§2322-2324; Code 1896, §§1485-1487; Code 1907, §§3793-3795; Acts 1919, No. 584, p. 839; Acts 1919, No. 631, p. 878; Code 1923, §§7407-7409; Acts 1932, Ex. Sess., No. 41, p. 52; Acts 1933, Ex. Sess., No. 153, p. 142; Acts 1936-37, Ex. Sess., No. 211, p. 247; Code 1940, T. 34, §§20-22; Acts 1943, No. 463, p. 425; Acts 1947, No. 487, p. 336; Acts 1971, No. 222, p. 517; Acts 1971, No. 2272, p. 3662, §§1, 2.)
Alabama Residency requirement for plaintiff when defendant nonresident.
When the defendant is a nonresident, the other party to the marriage must have been a bona fide resident of this state for six months next before the filing of the complaint, which must be alleged in the complaint and proved.
(Code 1852, §1969; Code 1867, §2359; Code 1876, §2693; Code 1886, §2330; Code 1896, §1494; Code 1907, §3802; Code 1923, §7416; Code 1940, T. 34, §29; Acts 1945, No. 457, p. 691; Acts 1971, No. 2280, p. 3687.)
Legal separation in Alabama.
(a) The court shall enter a decree of legal separation if all of the following requirements are satisfied:
(1) The court determines that the jurisdictional requirements for the dissolution of a marriage have been met.
(2) The court determines the marriage is irretrievably broken or there exists a complete incompatibility of temperament or one or both of the parties desires to live separate and apart.
(3) To the extent that it has jurisdiction to do so, the court has considered, approved, or provided for child custody, and has entered an order for child support in compliance with Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration.
(b) A legal separation is a court determination of the rights and responsibilities of a husband and wife arising out of the marital relationship. A decree of legal separation does not terminate the marital status of the parties.
(c) If a party files a complaint for a decree of legal separation rather than a decree of dissolution of marriage, the court may grant the legal separation. The terms of a legal separation can be modified or dissolved only by written consent of both parties and ratification by the court or by court order upon proof of a material change of circumstances. A proceeding or judgment for legal separation shall not bar either party from later instituting an action for dissolution of the marriage.
(d) The court shall order that the terms of the legal separation relating to alimony or a property settlement be incorporated into a final divorce decree only if agreed to by the parties. Otherwise, the court may consider, but is not bound by, the provisions of the legal separation relating to alimony or a property settlement upon a final dissolution of the marriage.
(e) If either party to a legal separation later institutes an action for dissolution of the marriage, the best interest of the child standard shall apply to the determination of child custody.
(f) Upon written consent by both parties, after entry of a decree of legal separation, all of the following provisions shall apply:
(1) The earnings or accumulations, including the retirement benefits, of each party received after the entry of the decree of legal separation are the separate property of the party acquiring the earnings or accumulations, and shall not be considered by the court in a subsequent divorce action.
(2) A spouse may convey his or her real estate without the signature or consent of the other spouse.
(3) Each spouse may waive all rights to inheritance from the other spouse pursuant to Section 43-8-72.
(g) Court costs for a legal separation may be assessed as if a dissolution of the marriage was requested and may be taxed by the court accordingly.
(Act 98-105, §1.)
Waiting period prior to issuance of final judgment of divorce; temporary orders prior to expiration of waiting period.
(a) A court shall not enter a final judgment of divorce until after the expiration of 30 days from the date of the filing of the summons and complaint.
(b) This section shall not restrict the power of the court to enter any temporary orders necessary prior to the expiration of the waiting period. The temporary orders may include, but shall not be limited to, temporary orders on custody, spousal or child support, visitation, exclusive occupancy of the marital residence, or restraining the parties.
(Acts 1996, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 96-51, p. 70, §1.)