If your spouse has moved out, you may not know how to proceed.
A spouse leaving the shared home is emotional and difficult, and a divorce can help you move on.
If your spouse left over a year ago, you may be able to file a divorce based on abandonment.
In Alabama, abandonment is one of the fault grounds for divorce. Here, we will discuss what you need to know about Alabama divorce laws and marital abandonment.
What Is Spousal or Marital Abandonment in Alabama?
There are not separate abandonment laws in Alabama.
Instead, abandonment is part of the state’s law relating to divorce. In Alabama, you can file a divorce based on fault grounds, or you can file a no-fault divorce.
If you file on fault grounds, you are claiming that the marriage failed because of the other spouse’s actions.
One of the fault grounds for divorce is abandonment. According to Alabama law, you can divorce your spouse for their “voluntary abandonment of bed and board” for one year or more as of the time you file for divorce.
Your spouse can be considered to have abandoned the marriage if they moved out and you have little to no contact with them.
This situation must be voluntary, so you cannot claim abandonment if you kicked your spouse out.
The abandonment must also continue for a year or more before you can claim it as grounds for divorce.
What Qualifies as Abandonment?
When one spouse not only moves out but also stops performing all family obligations and responsibilities, it is considered abandonment.
For example, if your spouse has stopped contributing to your household financially or has ceased to perform childcare duties in addition to moving out, this is considered abandonment.
When abandonment occurs, the abandoning spouse has no intention of returning. There are no continued marital relations, including companionship and sexual relations, in an abandonment.
You will also have to present evidence that your spouse left with the intent to end the marriage.
Alabama divorce laws about abandonment require more than just the fact that a couple lives apart.
If one spouse refuses to relocate due to the other spouse’s job, that is not abandonment.
In addition, if one spouse flees from an abusive partner, that is also not abandonment.
How Does Abandonment Affect My Divorce?
If you are filing an abandonment divorce, it can impact other issues in your divorce. Alabama law protects some abandoned spouse rights.
For example, if one spouse abandons the other and stops contributing financially, a court may award the abandoned spouse an increased alimony award to make up for the lack of financial assistance.
In addition, if your spouse has stopped caring for your children, the court may be more likely to award you sole custody.
Child custody, however, is always based on what is best for the children. Not all abandoned spouses get full custody.
One of the most significant impacts of abandonment on your divorce is that you may struggle to negotiate any terms with your spouse.
Couples often agree on many aspects of property division, child visitation, and other divorce issues.
When one spouse abandons the other, there may be no opportunity to discuss these things until a claim has been filed and the court is involved.
Contact Our Birmingham, Alabama Divorce Lawyers
At the Dagney Johnson Law Group, our Birmingham divorce attorneys are ready to discuss the details of your case.
Our personal style of representation will help you move forward during this confusing time while making sure you are comfortable with every step of the process.