A divorce can be a stressful experience, and one of the most headache-inducing elements of dividing marital property.
In this article, we will answer your Alabama divorce questions, including “How is property divided in an Alabama divorce?”, “What is considered marital property in Alabama?”, “What is commingled property?” and “Can a Divorcing Couple Divide Their Own Property?” If you have any other questions about Alabama divorce law, feel free to let us know or reach out to talk about your specific situation.
How is Property Divided in an Alabama Divorce?
Alabama is an equitable distribution state, which means the courts will divide assets as fairly and equally as possible. However this does not necessarily mean everything will be split in a perfect 50/50. Judges in Alabama divorce cases have a reasonable amount of power and discretion when it comes to dividing property.
While they will try to keep things as even as possible in most cases, they will also factor in elements such as the length of the marriage, the income and economic contributions of each spouse and the planned arrangements for children. Any of these factors and more can influence a judge’s decision on asset division in Alabama.
It is recommended you speak with an Alabama divorce attorney who can review your specific situation to make sure you are prepared.
What is Considered “Marital Property” in Alabama?
Typically, Alabama courts consider most assets acquired by a couple during their marriage as marital property.
This can include anything from cars and houses to furniture and even savings accounts. Marital property is divided into two general types: real and personal. Real property is narrowed down to land and immovable property on that land such as a house.
Personal is basically anything that can be moved or stored from furniture and cars to books and family photos. Personal property is usually much easier to divide whereas real property may require research or property values.
What is Considered Individual Property in Alabama?
Individual or separate property usually includes personal property acquired prior to the marriage or property acquired as a gift or inheritance.
While most individual property is not typically subject to division during a divorce in Alabama, that is not always the case. If the separate property was used to regularly benefit both spouses or the cost was shared, it may be considered marital property regardless of how or when it was acquired.
For example, a home acquired by a spouse prior to the marriage may be considered individual property, however if both spouses made mortgage payments, the home may be considered marital property in Alabama.
This is referred to as commingled property and would be subject to asset division.
What is a Property Inventory?
Prior to pursuing divorce, it is recommended that you compile an inventory or list of all property. This should include individual real property and personal property as well as any individual
property that may be considered commingled. This inventory will be significantly helpful in guiding the divorce process. Review this property inventory with your attorney to determine what property you want to keep and which you are willing to give up or negotiate on. Staying organized and being prepared is key for making your divorce as streamlined and stress-free as possible. A property inventory is vital in avoiding the growing chaos of a disorganized divorce.
Can a Divorcing Couple Divide Their Own Property?
When dividing property in an Alabama divorce, a couple typically has two options: asking the court to divide the property for them or dividing the property themselves and presenting it to the court.
In simple, amicable divorces, dividing your own property may be a cleaner and more affordable option. However, dividing so much property, especially when in a life experience as emotional as divorce, may lead to high stress and cause the divorce to be even more draining and time consuming. Even in an amicable divorce, using an attorney may help speed up the process and remove unnecessary stress from you and your family.
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Solon Phillips, Partner of the General Litigation Group at Remus Enterprises Law Group, is an experienced legal professional with extensive experience working in large law firms while devoting much of his spare time in volunteer work in public service.