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How Is Property Divided in a Divorce in Alabama?


No one hopes to go through a divorce, but it’s something that many people will experience in their lifetime. While your emotions may be running high, the most important thing to remember is that knowledge can be your best asset during the divorce process. Knowing how divorce processes work in your state, which forms you need to file, and how to find an experienced divorce attorney prepares you for your case and arms you with the best chance of a favorable outcome.

You will have many questions when you start the divorce process, and how property division is handled is likely one of them. Whether you and your spouse own a lot or a little bit of property, you need to know what you are each entitled to in the divorce proceedings — it’s often one of the most confusing subjects you will encounter. 

Equitable Distribution

Alabama is known as an equitable distribution state. This means that when couples don’t agree on how their property should be divided, the court will decide to divide property in an equitable manner, which the court will determine. 

What About Marital and Separate Property?

Most of the property obtained during the marriage will be considered marital property in the state of Alabama. So, if spouses both purchased a house while they were married, it will be considered marital property and will be divided as such according to equitable distribution principles. 

If a house is purchased by one spouse before the marriage or inherited by one spouse after the marriage, it may be considered separate property if it is not commingled in the marital estate.. This situation depends on a variety of factors, though — for instance, if both spouses used the property during the marriage and both parties benefited, the court may determine such property as marital property, despite how the couple obtained it. 

Property Types

Property is defined in two different categories in the state of Alabama: real property and personal property

Real property encompasses land and the buildings on the land, including houses and undeveloped tracts of land that either one or both spouses own or acquire before or during the marriage. 

Land is often a contention in divorce. This often happens when one spouse wants to keep a piece of land that might be owned jointly and comes with a mortgage or other debt that should be considered when the property is divided during divorce. 

Personal property is defined as any other property that is not land or buildings. This property may include antiques, furniture, cars, motorcycles, boats, artworks, jewelry, and other possessions. 

Property Inventory

Upon the decision to obtain a divorce, you should create an inventory of all your property. This should include both real and personal property. If you do so, working with a divorce attorney will likely be much easier. You will be able to establish what property you would like to keep and what property you are willing to negotiate. You’ll also produce a more explicit picture of the total amount of property that may be at stake during the divorce. 

You should also keep in mind the property’s value that might be divided during the divorce process. This includes potential debt related to ownership of that property. 

Property Division

There isn’t just one rule for how the court will divorce property during a divorce. The court will consider many factors, and it can help if both spouses agree on how everything should be divided. Mediators can help couples decide what to divide. 

If the court is a part of a situation where spouses won’t agree on the division, things can get unpredictable. Many factors are considered in property division, and an experienced divorce attorney can help you understand the process and the factors involved. 

Some of these factors include the following:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • The financial and contributions to the marriage made by each spouse.
  • Possible tax consequences related to property division

The longer a couple has been married, the more likely the courts will divide the property equally. Certain elements can play a part in that decision. 

Other Factors

Real and personal property aren’t the only property types considered during divorce proceedings. Some couples own intellectual property that must be considered. Retirement accounts and other investments may also be divided during a divorce. 

Sometimes there are essential tax consequences that may result from property division, so each spouse must be aware of such effects that could result from these factors. 

Baldwin County Family Law — Representation Tailored to You and Your Family

If you know that divorce is imminent, the sooner you start planning, the better. You never want to rush into the divorce process unprepared. The best option available to you is to hire an experienced divorce attorney to help you get prepared. 

The legal experts at Brackin Law Firm have provided family law representation to clients in Baldwin County, Alabama, for over 40 years. We will do everything we can to resolve disputes through negotiation and mediation. However, if it is in your best interest to go to trial, we will aggressively fight for you.

If you need an expert divorce attorney, contact Brackin Law Firm today. Let us help you make this process as seamless as possible.

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