Alabama is a “no fault” state meaning that you don’t necessarily have to prove fault on either party for the marriage to be ended judicially. This doesn’t mean that either party is innocent, and that both of the parties (or one of the parties) did not cause the marriage to fail. It basically means that the court wants to allow people a quick and easy route out of a marriage they no longer want to be in. Why? This is America, the land of the free.
A colleague of mine actually had a phone call the other day in which a man asked her how to stop a divorce from happening. He wanted to know if he contested the divorce if this would keep him and his wife married. Of course she was quite shocked once she realized what he was asking. When she attempted to explain that in Alabama you couldn’t keep someone married to you, his response was “Well, if someone can just divorce you without you agreeing to it, what good is marriage anyways?” As I said above, this is America, land of the free meaning that our government will not keep you trapped in an unhappy or unsatisfying marriage against your will.
However, simply because Alabama is a “no fault” state does not mean that there are not any “grounds” for divorce. Grounds for divorce simply means that you have an actual reason for dissolving the marriage. Depending on what the grounds are, it does not mean that either of you is actually at fault. Actually, there are 12 grounds for which you would file divorce as established in Alabama Code § 30-2-1:
- Irretrievable Break Down: This is the most common, most used ground due to a marriage falling apart. The parties are saying that the marriage has broken down to the point where reconciliation wouldn’t be conceivable. At this point in time, the parties have done all they can and cannot save their marriage or do not want to put forth the effort to attempt to save the marriage. It’s to the point, and is interchangeable with what most people consider “no fault.”
- Incompatibility of Temperament: You two can’t get along to the point that you cannot reside in the same house (or you’d kill each other!) Believe me, divorce court is way better than criminal court. The jail doesn’t smell that great.
- Adultery: This one is rather self-explanatory. Everyone knows about the scarlet A, and even if it’s not plead, Adultery is almost always mentioned or going on behind closed doors. Adultery is rampant in today’s society.
- Abandonment: We get this one almost every day. Oh, I can’t leave the home because that’s considered abandonment, or he left last week, isn’t that abandonment? Abandonment must have happened and continued to happen for one year before the abandoned spouse files. One of you must have left, without your spouse telling you it was okay or kicking you out, and not have intended to come back. Just because you two had a fight, and one of you went to stay with momma for a few days, doesn’t mean you abandoned your spouse.
- Incapacity: One of you is legally incapable of being marriage meaning either mentally or physically unable to complete the marriage. For example: husband is unable to consummate the marriage, one of you is not of the legal age of consent, you two are related by blood (ya know, more related than first cousins… ew), etc.
- Imprisonment: There are grounds for divorce if your spouse is imprisoned for two years in this state or another state for a sentence for seven years or longer.
- Habitual Drunkenness/Drug Use: This means that after the two of you got married, one of you became a drug user or alcoholic to the point that it has become frequent. Remember that the statute says after.
- Crime Against Nature: This is harder to explain – these are sexual acts that are committed “unnaturally.” If you have questions on this one, we’ll get into the skivvy on that later. Perhaps it’ll be a Fun Friday Blog. *wink, wink*
- Mental Incapacity/Insanity: “After the marriage, one of the spouses has been confined to a mental hospital for 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.” The statute is pretty clear on this one.
- Violence/Cruelty: If your spouse has committed an act of violence endangering your life or health or even committed an apprehension of violence, then you can state this as grounds for divorce.
- Pregnancy: If you (if you’re the wife) is pregnant at the time of marriage without your husband knowing and condoning that pregnancy, it can be used as grounds for him to file divorce.
- Non Support/Separation: If the two of you have been living separate and apart from each other for two years without support from each other, this is a means for filing for divorce.