Is Alabama A Community Property State?
If you are considering divorce in Alabama, or are beginning the process, you likely have a lot of questions about how your property will be divided. Alabama is not a community property state, where all marital property is divided 50-50, however, that answer may not give you as much information as you may think. While Alabama is not a community property state, the determination of community property versus separate property is still critical to the division of assets, and assets may still be distributed equally if that is determined to be a fair outcome by a judge. The 50-50 split though, is not guaranteed as it would be in community property states. In fact, Alabama judges have wide discretion to determine what they consider a fair or equitable outcome in a divorce and can rely on a number of factors in reaching that decision. These decisions are not always consistent, and different judges can even weigh the same factors differently. For this reason, the process for the division of assets in Alabama can leave divorcing couples with a large amount of uncertainty.
What is Marital or Community Property and Why is it Important?
The determination of community property is important because the judge can only allocate community property in divorce proceedings. Separate property is protected and cannot be allocated to the other spouse or considered part of their shared assets or debts. For this reason, you may want to argue that some assets are separate (such as debts your spouse took on that you had no knowledge of), while other assets, such as your marital home or a lucrative business started by one spouse during the marriage (or before the marriage if it utilized household funds or resources) may be far more beneficial to establish as community property. In general, Alabama courts consider any property acquired during the course of the marriage to be considered community property. However, there are some exceptions, such as an inheritance left to one spouse, gifts given to either spouse by a third party, or personal injury lawsuit settlements (or at least the portion of the settlement not intended to compensate for financial losses to the household). Sometimes assets that are acquired during the course of the marriage are protected as separate assets by other contractual agreements, such as prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. However, it’s important to have a lawyer assess these agreements because if other breaches of the terms have occurred they may not be a valid barrier.
Schedule a Consultation with Peeples Law
If you are considering divorce or are going through the divorce process in Alabama, it can be an overwhelming and emotional ordeal. Having a strong support system and legal advocate to represent your interests and ensure that all assets are accounted for and that you receive your fair share can be critical to receiving a fair outcome. Contact the Birmingham divorce lawyes at Peeples Law today to schedule a consultation and find out how we can help you take this next step forward as painlessly as possible.