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How will marital property be divided in Alabama?

When Alabama spouses who have been together for many years terminate their marriage, it can be a difficult time. Aside from the emotional effects, longer-term marriages tend to involve more assets the couple has accumulated together over the years. In these circumstances, it is important for spouses to understand the process of a high asset divorce.

One key factor in dividing marital property, oddly enough, is something having little to do with the marriage itself. Different states vary dramatically in terms of how they approach asset division. Accordingly, where a couple resides is very important in how a court will divide property interests.

California, for example, is the site of many divorces for Hollywood couples. Recently, actress Jane Seymour and her husband of 20 years announced they are divorcing. Seymour’s husband was her fourth, and the couple had two children together.

It was unclear if the couple filed in California, which is a community property state. States that follow community property rules define all marital property as community property or separate property, meaning community property is divided evenly, while separate property is kept by the spouse who owns it. Separate property includes things like inheritances or property acquired before the marriage.

Alabama, and most other states, are not community property states. Instead, Alabama follows rules of equitable distribution, meaning the court will attempt to divide marital property fairly between the spouses.

In other words, a spouse in an equitable distribution state may get two-thirds of the property, while the other spouse only gets one-third, if the judge determines this is fair under the circumstances. Needless to say, it is vital to have a vigorous and effective legal argument presented by a qualified attorney in order for a spouse to get his or her fair share.

Source: Hollywood Life, “Jane Seymour & husband announce divorce after 20 years,” Andrew Gruttadaro, April 13, 2013