Divorce in Alabama: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated February 20, 2024by Rachel Carey

From filing and records to online service, costs, and more, this guide will take you through divorce in Alabama and help you make informed decisions

Summary

  • The average divorce in Alabama costs between $15,000-$20,000, including lawyers and court fees

  • Alabama is an equitable distribution state, meaning marital property is divided fairly between spouses.

  • Protect finances during a divorce by opening separate accounts, limiting unnecessary spending, and gathering financial documentation.

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.

How much does it cost to get divorced in Alabama?

The cost of getting divorced in Alabama can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the divorce.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.

The average total cost ranges from $15,000 to $20,000 when factoring in legal fees and court costs.

This cost includes lawyer retainers, filing fees, mandatory parenting classes, asset appraisals, and any other expenses incurred during the proceedings.

Those with higher net worth or business assets may pay significantly more in legal fees depending on the complexity of dividing up property and negotiating settlements.

What are the different types of divorce in Alabama?

Alabama allows for three different types of divorce:

  • Fault Divorce: Also called a “standard divorce,” this requires proving grounds like adultery, abandonment, or domestic violence. At least one spouse must allege the other did something damaging to the marriage.

  • No-Fault Divorce: Spouses can file for divorce even if neither party is at fault. The most common is an irretrievably broken marriage with no chance of reconciliation.

  • Uncontested Divorce: If a couple agrees on how to divide property and handle child custody, they can file for an uncontested divorce. This is typically faster and cheaper since there’s no dispute resolution needed.

How to file for divorce In Alabama

Filing for divorce in Alabama involves submitting forms either on your own or through an attorney. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Meet Alabama’s residency requirement: To file for divorce in Alabama, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months.

  2. Decide where to file paperwork: A spouse files a Complaint for Divorce with the circuit court in the county where they or their spouse reside.

  3. Complete additional divorce forms: This includes forms handling child custody, financial disclosures, property division requests, and more, depending on the situation.

  4. Pay filing fees: This includes a minimum of $353 for basic filing costs but can run higher depending on the number of forms.

  5. Serve divorce papers to the other spouse: The person requesting the divorce must deliver copies of all forms filed to their spouse through acceptable means of service per court instructions.

  6. Attend court requirement sessions: If the couple has children under 19, Alabama requires attendance at a mandatory seminar providing info about the impacts of divorce on kids.

  7. Finalize the divorce: The judge will issue final rulings on areas of dispute related to finances, assets, child custody, etc., if the couple does not agree on these issues, followed by a final decree granting the divorce. Most divorces take between six and 12 months.

How is property divided up in an Alabama divorce?

Alabama is an “equitable distribution” state when handling property division in divorce.

This means marital assets like houses, retirement accounts, savings, etc, earned during the marriage are divided fairly (but not always equally) between spouses. The court considers factors like:

  • Each spouse’s contribution to acquiring assets (income, inheritance, etc.)

  • The length of the marriage

  • Each spouse’s financial situation and needs

  • Conduct potentially damaging to the marriage by either party

The ultimate goal is a balanced distribution, allowing both parties to be self-sufficient after divorce. Non-marital property owned before marriage or received as inheritance is usually exempt from distribution.

How can I protect my finances during an Alabama divorce?

Going through a divorce in Alabama creates financial vulnerability. Here are some tips to protect your money:

  • Open individual bank accounts: Joint accounts allow a spouse access to 100% of funds, which could be withdrawn without consent. Open your own checking/savings account.

  • Gather financial statements and documentation: Inventory all assets, earnings, debts, and expenses over recent years. This provides backup for settlement negotiations.

  • Limit unnecessary spending: Major purchases could be disputed, avoid running up debt or hiding money in EFTs/cryptocurrencies. Stick to essential living expenses.

  • Update beneficiaries: Remove former spouses from pension accounts, life insurance, and bank/retirement accounts to ensure assets transfer to children or some other beneficiary as intended after divorce.

  • Consult professionals: Speak to a financial advisor and lawyer to understand your full financial picture and options around asset division, budget changes, taxes, and more based on your situation.

Get expert financial advice

Going through a divorce in Alabama can be complicated and emotional. Understanding the legal landscape and financial implications from the start helps reduce stress during an already difficult transition.

Speak to an expert financial advisor to make the best choices for your situation when navigating the complex process.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

Find your financial advisor with Unbiased today.

Senior Content Writer

Rachel Carey

Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.