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Alabama Marital Settlement (Divorce) Agreement

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Alabama Marital Settlement (Divorce) Agreement

Updated February 01, 2024

An Alabama marital settlement agreement is a contract that allows a married couple to set forth the terms of their divorce in writing. Settlement agreements typically address the division of property, alimony, child support, and custody arrangements. The provisions recorded by the spouses govern their future relationship while providing evidence to the court that all divorce-related matters have been resolved.

The agreement becomes effective once signed by both parties. Should either spouse fail to satisfy their post-marital responsibilities, the non-breaching party may seek the appropriate legal means to enforce the agreement terms.

Table of Contents

Divorce Laws

Alimony (§ 30-2-57)

The courts consider all relevant factors when awarding alimony, including the following:

  • Marriage length;
  • Living standard established during the marriage;
  • The spouses’ age and health;
  • Future job opportunities;
  • Contributions made to the other spouse’s education or earning ability;
  • Sacrifices in income or career opportunities to benefit the other spouse or their family;
  • Extreme or unnecessary spending, concealment, destruction, or fraudulent disposition of assets and property; and
  • All judgments and damages that resulted from a criminal conviction in which the victim was the other spouse or a child of the marriage.

Alimony Calculatorcalculators.law

Child Support (Title 30, Ch. 3)

Alabama courts use Rule 32. Guidelines to assign a parent’s child support obligations. However, the guidelines may be modified if the amount of support is deemed inequitable or unjust.

Child Support CalculatorAlabamaLawyers.com or Danibone.com

Division of Property (§ 30-2-51)

Alabama is an equitable distribution state. This means the court separates property by what is “fair” and not necessarily equal. The arrangement may be modified if the spouses agree to an alternate division.

Grounds for Divorce (§ 30-2-1)

A resident of Alabama may file for divorce under the following grounds:

  • Adultery;
  • Abandonment of at least one (1) year;
  • Imprisonment for two (2) years, with a total sentence of seven (7) years or longer;
  • Crimes against nature;
  • Drunkenness or addiction to drugs;
  • Incompatibility;
  • Committed to a mental hospital for at least five (5) years;
  • Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;
  • Pregnancy during marriage unknown to the husband;
  • Domestic violence; and
  • If the wife has lived without the husband with no support.

Interim Support (§ 30-2-56)

A spouse may receive funding during the process of the divorce. The interim support will be terminated upon the entry of a final judgment.

Residency (§ 30-2-5)

If the defendant is a non-resident, the petitioner must have been a resident for at least six (6) months. If both spouses reside in Alabama, or if only the defendant resides in Alabama, the divorce may be filed at any time. 

Divorce Forms

Uncontested Divorce with No Children:

Uncontested Divorce With Children:

How to File for Divorce in Alabama (8 steps)

  1. Complete the Divorce Forms
  2. Additional Court Forms
  3. File with the Court
  4. Serve the Other Spouse
  5. Defendant’s Answer
  6. Begin Negotiating
  7. File Remaining Forms
  8. Name Change

The Alabama courthouse during the day with the Alabama flag flying high

1. Complete the Divorce Forms

Divorce filers will need to draft a Divorce Complaint that contains the spouses’ personal information and explains the reason for divorce. The form may also include details regarding child support and custody. If the filing spouse (the plaintiff) wishes to restore their former name after divorce, the request should be stated in the complaint.

  • This Divorce Complaint may be used if the spouses do not have children and have no assets or debt for the court to divide. In all other circumstances, the plaintiff will need to obtain a Divorce Complaint from the Circuit Court. Once complete, the document must be signed in the presence of a notary public.

2. Additional Court Forms

Before filing with the court, additional paperwork may need to be included with the complaint. Filers should review the following documents and complete any forms that apply to their divorce circumstance:

  • SummonsRequired
    • Used to inform the other spouse (the defendant) of the divorce case and provide them instructions for filing a response.
  • Certificate of Divorce – Required
    • A member of the court will sign this document after a divorce has been awarded.
  • Child Support Obligation Income Statement/AffidavitRequired if Applicable
    • This form is required if the divorce case involves child support. Once complete, it must be signed in the presence of a notary public or court clerk.
  • Plaintiff’s Testimony – Optional
    • If the court orders the plaintiff to attest to certain facts about their case, a Plaintiff’s Testimony must be completed and signed before a clerk of the court. If the spouses do not have children and have no assets or debt for the court to divide, this Plaintiff’s Testimony may be used. Otherwise, the requisite document must be obtained from the Circuit Court.

Note: The plaintiff should contact a clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where they are filing to see if any locally-issued forms are required.

3. File with the Court

Divorce documents and photocopies alongside filing fee for divorce court

The original divorce documents and one (1) set of photocopies must be filed with a clerk of the Circuit Court. The plaintiff must also provide payment for the filing fee (prices vary depending on the court). If unable to afford the fee, the plaintiff can ask the clerk to waive the fees by filing an Affidavit of Substantial Hardship and Order.

4. Serve the Other Spouse

After the forms have been filed, the plaintiff must serve the defendant with copies of the divorce forms. The following service methods are permitted in Alabama:

  • First-class mail with a written acknowledgment upon delivery;
  • Certified mail (return receipt requested);
  • Service by a process server; or
  • Service by the sheriff.

Once the documents have been served, a proof of service statement will be delivered to the plaintiff which they must file with the Circuit Court.

5. Defendant’s Answer

The defendant must file an Answer to Divorce Complaint within thirty (30) days of the service date. In the answer, the defendant states whether they deny any information contained in the Divorce Complaint. A copy of the answer must be delivered to the plaintiff, and the original document must be filed with the Circuit Court.

Note: If the spouses wish to receive an uncontested divorce judgment, the plaintiff and defendant must agree on all issues concerning their divorce.

6. Begin Negotiating

The court will ask the couple to negotiate amongst themselves. This commonly starts with the discovery process during which the spouses list their property and debts. The parties will then negotiate the division of assets and make arrangements for alimony and child support/custody. If there is no progress, a mediator should be hired who can look at both sides and help an agreement come together. The couple’s decisions should be documented in a Marital Settlement Agreement.

7. File Remaining Forms

After the couple has created a settlement agreement, it can be filed with the Circuit Court in addition to any other documents not yet submitted. A Final Judgment of Divorce must be provided to a clerk. If there are still unsettled issues, the court will set a hearing date and require the spouses to argue their cases before a judge. Once all matters have been settled, a judge will sign the Final Judgment of Divorce to finish the process and terminate the marriage. The spouses should receive a divorce decree shortly thereafter.

8. Name Change

A young woman's valid drivers license

If either spouse asked to have their former name restored, the change should be reflected in the divorce decree. They may then use the decree as proof of the change when updating their Social Security information, driver’s license, and other accounts containing the name used during the marriage.