In Alabama, couples that have decided to file for divorce have the option to file for either a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce.
A no-fault divorce relates to on irreconcilable differences. While a fault-based divorce is more complicated as it’s based on a spouse’s misconduct in the marriage.
Typically, a spouse will file a fault-based divorce if they feel “wronged”. Wanting to prove they were not the reason for the failure of the marriage.
Successfully proving the other spouse was at fault can also lead to a larger distribution of marital property.
So, it’s incredibly important you seek the advice and representation of an experienced lawyer. One with experience defending clients in fault-based divorce cases in Alabama – as Warren Freeman is.
Here’s a closer look at the fault-based grounds for divorce and what it means for both parties:
Fault-Based Grounds of Divorce in Alabama
Alabama law allows either spouse to file for a fault-based divorce if they see their spouse’s actions as a reason for the divorce.
There are some pros and cons to pursuing a fault-based divorce. In a lot of cases, it’s important to the spouse pursuing the count action to prove they were not at fault for the breakup of the marriage.
However, it is typically more expensive and requires more work to go through the fault-based count proceedings.
The spouse taking action also has to prove their allegations to the court. This often means bringing up some harmful or challenging evidence, which may include witnesses.
Here are acceptable grounds for fault-based divorce:
Physical and incurable incapacity – This can include being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As well as not being in the right state of mind or physical capacity to make the decision to get married.
Habitual drunkenness – Developing a dependency on drugs or alcohol and excessive intoxication while married.
Adultery – Being unfaithful and resulting in the breakdown of the marriage is one of the most common reasons for a fault-based divorce.
Imprisonment – This applies if a spouse has been imprisoned for the previous two years prior to filing for a fault-based divorce. They also need to be serving a sentence that is at least 7 years long.
Institutionalized – Institutionalized for at least 5 years consecutively at the time of applying for the divorce due to mental illness. This is also subject to a mental health evaluation by a mental health professional.
Abandonment or desertion – If a spouse abandoned the other for at least 12 months, in the eyes of this is fault grounds for divorce.
Domestic violence – Any form of domestic violence constitutes grounds for a fault-based divorce.
Pregnancy at the time of marriage – If the wife in the relationship was pregnant at the time of getting married without the other partner knowing, this comes under fault-based grounds.
Crimes against nature – Whether it’s with mankind or beast, crimes against nature while married are acceptable grounds.
When Both Spouses Are at Fault
It’s not uncommon for one spouse to file for fault against the other. Only to have the other spouse counter-file with grounds for a fault divorce too.
When this happens, the court will decide which spouse is less at fault. That person will be the one who is granted the divorce.
This is called “Comparative Rectitude”. This doctrine was created to help courts avoid granting neither party a divorce.
Defending Against a Fault-Based Divorce
A spouse can object to a fault-based divorce and refute the claims made against them. This isn’t typically to avoid getting a divorce, as courts don’t push back against it. It’s usually to clear their name, prove they’ve done no wrong, and get a more “fair” division of assets.
Some of the most common defenses include:
Collusion – This usually applies to spouses who originally agreed to fabricate the grounds for divorce. One party will often change their minds during the legal process, and collusion is the defense to lessen the grounds.
Recrimination – This means the spouse filing for divorce is equally to blame or guilty of the same fault. For example, if both spouses are equally abusing drugs, neither one can use substance abuse as grounds for a divorce.
Connivance – This is the main defense against adultery. If the spouse filing for fault divorce enticed, participated, or had any involvement in their partner having an affair, it’s connivance.
Provocation – Provocation is a defense if the accused spouse can prove the other spouse provoked them. Such as encouragement to commit adultery or suffering harassment.
Condonation – This defense means that the spouse filing for divorce knew about the other spouse’s behavior, and forgave them. Only to then file for divorce after the marriage had resumed.
About Warren Freeman
Whether you’re facing a no-fault or a fault-based divorce, hiring an experienced attorney will help you seek a better settlement.
Divorce laws are complex, it’s not an area of law you’re expected to understand. Yet, there is so much on the line when dividing assets and parental rights.
Fault-based divorces are a lot less common and more complex than no-fault divorce cases. Hiring an attorney with experience in this area can make all the difference. Both to the judgment, and the settlement in your case.
Attorney Warren Freeman has more than two decade’s legal experience. He’s litigated some of the most challenging lawsuits across several counties in Alabama.
Waren is one of the premier family law attorneys in Central Alabama. Most importantly, he has considerable experience representing defendants in fault-based divorce cases.
If you want the very best outcome in your case, call the office of Warren Freeman Attorney at Law today on (256) 253-3169, or contact us by filling out a form here.