What you need to know about property division in an Alabama divorce

The laws that determine how property and debts are divided during divorce are different in each state. Alabama, like roughly half of all U.S. states, follows a system called "equitable distribution." Under this system, all of the debts and assets that married couples share are divided according to a principle of equity, or fairness.

For anyone considering divorce in Alabama, it is important to understand that this does not always mean that a couple's debts and assets are divided equally between the spouses. Although some states follow a rigid 50/50 formula for property division during divorce, Alabama's approach is more nuanced and requires a careful evaluation of several different factors. Examples of the factors affecting property division in Alabama divorce cases may include:

  • Each spouse's monetary and non-monetary contributions to the marriage.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • Each spouse's expected ability to earn a living after the divorce.
  • Whether either spouse committed abuse or adultery during the marriage.
  • Each spouse's expected share of childcare responsibilities after the divorce.

What assets and debts are subject to division?

When married spouses divorce in Alabama, all of their money, property and other assets are divided into two categories: separate property and marital property.

Although there are certain exceptions in some cases, separate property typically includes anything that either spouse owned before marriage. During an Alabama divorce, each spouse typically keeps his or her own separate property.

Marital property, on the other hand, usually includes any assets that either spouse earned, generated, purchased or otherwise obtained during the marriage. Marital property may include money, investments, retirement accounts, real estate or business assets, as well as many other types of valuables that the spouses received while married. These assets are subject to division during divorce.

A lawyer can help protect your interests

Although Alabama's property division law may sound simple enough, in practice it can be highly complex and difficult to apply. As a result, property division is often one of the most difficult and contentious parts of the divorce process.

Not only can it be difficult to distinguish between separate and marital property - particularly in cases involving assets whose value has changed over time, such as business assets or other investments - but also because the standards for deciding who gets what are highly subjective.

Therefore, people considering divorce in Alabama are advised to get legal assistance from a qualified divorce lawyer who can help them explore their options and advocate for their interests at every step of the process.