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Legal Information: Alabama

Alabama Divorce

Laws current as of
September 1, 2023

Below you will find state-specific information about divorce in Alabama. You will find more information about divorce, including the risks of taking your children out of state while a divorce is pending, on our general Divorce page. To watch brief videos about divorce in Spanish with English sub-titles, go to our Videos page. Lastly, learn more about the court process on our Preparing for Court – By Yourself page.

What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Alabama?

The amount of time that you or your spouse has to live in Alabama before filing for a divorce will depend on whether or not one or both of the spouses live in Alabama, as follows:

  • If both spouses are residents of Alabama, a divorce can be filed at any time;
  • If only the person filing for the divorce (the plaintiff) is a resident of Alabama and the other spouse (the defendant) lives in another state, the plaintiff must have been a resident of Alabama for at least six months immediately before filing for the divorce; or
  • If only the defendant is a resident of Alabama but the person filing for divorce (the plaintiff) lives in another state, a divorce can be filed at any time.1

1 Ala. Code § 30-2-5

What are the grounds for divorce in Alabama?

Grounds are legally acceptable reasons for a divorce. A divorce in Alabama may be granted for any of the following reasons:

  1. your spouse cheats on you (adultery);
  2. your spouse has abandoned you for a period of at least one year immediately before filing for divorce;
  3. your spouse is imprisoned for two years and the sentence is seven years or longer;
  4. your spouse has committed a “crime against nature, whether with mankind or beast,” either before or after getting married;
  5. your spouse becomes addicted to alcohol, opium, morphine, cocaine, or a similar drug after getting married;
  6. the judge determines that you and your spouse are completely incompatible and can no longer live together;
  7. your spouse has been confined to a mental hospital for five years in a row and, according to the director of the mental hospital, s/he is incurably insane;
  8. there has been a complete breakdown of the marriage and reconciliation is impractical or pointless and not in the best interest of the spouses or the children;
  9. the husband files for divorce because he did not know that the wife was pregnant at the time of the marriage and he is not the father of the child;
  10. your spouse has committed an act of violence that threatens your life or health or when his/her conduct creates a reasonable fear of such violence;
  11. when the wife has lived separate and apart from the husband without any financial support for a period of two years before filing for divorce and the wife has resided in Alabama during that time;1 or
  12. at the time of the marriage, your spouse was impotent, which is explained in the law as “physically and incurably incapacitated from entering into the marriage state”.2

1 Ala. Code § 30-2-1
2 Ala. Code § 30-2-1(a)(1); see Anonymous, 89 Ala. 291, 7 So. 100 (1890)

Can I get temporary alimony while the divorce is pending?

The judge can award temporary alimony (spousal support) during the divorce proceedings. The judge may consider the following factors:

  1. the financial situation of you and your spouse;
  2. the standard of living that was established during the marriage;1
  3. the earning ability of each spouse;
  4. the probable future prospects, such as possibilities for success, advancement, etc.;
  5. the age, sex, and social position (station in life) of each spouse;
  6. length of the marriage; and
  7. conduct of the parties as it relates to the cause for the divorce.2

This temporary alimony could be ordered throughout the time that it takes to finalize the divorce.1

1 Ala. Code § 30-2-50
2 See Chancellor v. Chancellor, 288 So. 2d 794 (1974)

Can I get alimony once the divorce is finalized?

Alimony is financial support paid by one spouse to another. Depending on various factors, alimony can be granted once the divorce is finalized.1 The alimony can be payable in one lump sum, by installments, or by a combination of the two.2 The judge will consider different factors depending on the type of payments to be order, but in general s/he will consider:

  1. the length of the marriage;
  2. the age, health, and social position (station in life) of each spouse;
  3. each spouse’s future prospects, such as possibilities for success, advancement, etc.;
  4. the source, value, and type of property owned by each spouse;
  5. the standard of living during the marriage and potential to maintain that standard; and
  6. the fault of the spouses related to the cause for the divorce, when appropriate.3

Alimony will be terminated once the spouse who receives alimony has remarried or is openly “cohabitating” with a romantic partner of the same sex or opposite sex. Cohabitation involves the couple taking on marital rights, duties, and obligations even though they are not married.4

1 See generally Ala. Code §§ 30-2-51; 30-2-52
2 See, for example, Madden v. Madden, 399 So.2d 304 (1981)
3 See Currie v. Currie, 550 So.2d 423, 425 (Ala.Civ.App.1989)
4 Ala. Code § 30-2-55

What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?

While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps:

  • First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state in which you wish to file.
  • Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
  • Third, you must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse. (To learn more about filing a summons, preparing a petition, and service of process, go to the Starting the Court Case page in our Preparing for Court - By Yourself section.)
  • Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, s/he will then have the opportunity to file papers telling his/her side. This is called “contesting the divorce.” In this case, you will have to attend a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, s/he should sign the papers and send them back to you and/or the court. This is called an “uncontested divorce.” If a certain period of time passes and your spouse does not sign the papers or file any papers of his/her own, you may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway. You should speak to a lawyer in your state about how long you have to wait to see if your spouse answers the divorce papers before you can continue with the divorce.
  • Fifth, if there is property that you need divided, or if you need financial support from your spouse, you will have to work that out in an out-of-court settlement, or in a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.

You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?

Where can I find more information about divorce in Alabama?

The Alabama State Bar has information about the “legal aspects of divorce,” including information on property settlement.

You can find the form to file a divorce complaint and the form to answer a divorce complaint on the Alabama Courts website.

WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above websites and cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information on their sites. We provide these links for your information only.

You will find more information about divorce, including the risks of taking your children out of state while a divorce is pending, on our general Divorce page. To watch brief videos about divorce in Spanish with English sub-titles, go to our Videos page. Lastly, learn more about the court process on our Preparing for Court – By Yourself page.