Marriage may be about love, but divorce is largely a financial transaction – and one of the biggest things that couples have to do is figure out how to divide the marital property.
In Alabama, the division of property is governed by the laws of equitable distribution. This means that marital property has to be divided fairly (not necessarily equally).
First, you have to separate the marital property out
Marital property refers to any assets and debts that were acquired during the marriage, (regardless of whose name is on the title or account). This can include real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles and personal property.
Separate property, on the other hand, refers to assets (and debts) that were acquired before the marriage, as well as gifts and inheritances received during the marriage. These are generally not subject to division in a divorce as long as they were not somehow commingled with marital assets.
Then, you have to consider what makes the division of what remains fair
Once the marital assets and debts are determined, they have to be split as fairly as possible. If the couple can come to an agreement on their own about what’s truly fair, then they likely can settle the issue with the court’s approval. If not, the court will consider things like:
- The length of the marriage
- The age, health and earning capacity of each spouse
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage (including unpaid labor, like homemaking)
- Any prior agreements (prenuptial or post-nuptial) that were made
The court is also free to consider anything else it considers relevant to the decision. For example, if one spouse worked two jobs to put the other through medical school before the divorce, the court may take that into consideration when dividing the marital assets.
Based on all these factors, the court will make a determination about how to divide the marital property. This may involve dividing certain assets between the spouses, or awarding certain assets entirely to one spouse while the other receives other assets or a cash payment.
Overall, the division of property in an Alabama divorce can be a complex process. Seeking legal guidance can help you get through this process and help to ensure that your interests are protected.