This is about miscellaneous issues for divorce in Alabama, including residence requirements, grounds for divorce, common law marriage, annulment, legal separation, and any requirement for parent training in Alabama.
- What are the requirements for residence?
- What are the grounds for divorce?
- What does it take to be married at common law?
- How does annulment work?
- Is there such a thing as legal separation? If so, how does it work?
- Do parents of minor children have to go through parent training? If so, how much does it cost, and how long does it take?
If both spouses now live in the state of Alabama, there’s no period of residency required. If either of the spouses does not live in Alabama, the other spouse must have lived in Alabama for at least six months.
Alabama recognizes several grounds for divorce, including things like abandonment, alcoholism, imprisonment, and adultery. Click here for the statute on the grounds for divorce. The vast majority of divorces in Alabama, however, are granted on the grounds of incompatibility and irretrievable breakdown.
If a man and a woman intend to be married, they may be married even if they never said “I do.” The test in Alabama is the intent of the parties. No ceremony and no particular words are necessary to constitute a valid common-law marriage.
To constitute a valid common-law marriage, there must be mutual consent between the parties to be husband and wife, followed by cohabitation and living together as man and wife. Alabama doesn’t recognize trial marriages. As the court in one case put it, “marriage, common-law or ceremonial, is not transitory, ephemeral, or conditional, but contemplates a present, permanent status. An expression of intention to marry in the future, followed by cohabitation, does not create the common-law marital status.”
Annulment is available but rarely used. Because it’s rarely used, expect it to be more expensive than a divorce. Grounds for an annulment include lack of capacity to marry (either underage or already married and not divorced), fraud, duress, or (depending on the judge) failure to consummate the marriage. Even though the 30 day waiting period applicable to divorce does not apply to annulments, annulments sometimes take more time because they may require a court appearance.
Be careful about the use of the term “fraud” in connection with an annulment. It doesn’t mean “he didn’t tell me he was gay,” or “she didn’t tell me she owed so much money.” It’s fraud about already being married to somebody else at the time of the marriage or about having no intent to have a marriage in the normal sense of the word.
Legal separation, like annulment, is available but rarely used. Alabama has a legal separation statute enacted in 1999.Click here to read it. Also like annulment, legal separation will usually be more expensive than a divorce because it’s less familiar. You can read about how legal separation works with me if you’d like.
Do parents of minor children have to go through parent training? If so, how much does it cost, and how long does it take?
This varies from county to county. Jefferson County doesn’t require it, and neither does Mobile County. Shelby County doesn’t. Montgomery County does. Walker County does. Most counties that require parent training provide it at a modest cost, and it typically runs four hours or so. Check with the clerk’s office in your county for particulars.