One of the most common practices of an Alabama Divorce Lawyer is to help effectuate the division of marital assets and liabilities between the parties during a divorce process. There are many divorce cases in Alabama that do not involve children, but almost all divorces will require the division of the parties' assets.
It is extremely important that an experienced and knowledgeable divorce attorney be as thorough as possible when analyzing, negotiating, and drafting property settlement agreements. And judicial decree must be clear, concise, and specifically express the intent of divorcing couples. Badly written property agreements can create nightmares and lawsuits in the future.
Any good divorce attorney in Huntsville and Madison County should obtain a complete list of all the parties' assets and liabilities during the initial attorney-client consultation. Mortgages, investments, stocks, bonds, motor vehicles, dogs, cats, and just about everything else will need to be accounted for.
Liabilities are as equally important to understand during an Alabama divorce. Liabilities are subject to division in a property settlement just like any existing property.
It is important to note that there is no fixed formula or standard for determining how a court will dispose of the property in Alabama. This is a significant reason why you should always consult a divorce and family law firm with decades of experience and that has tried thousands of divorce cases.
Equitable Distribution of Property
Alabama is an equitable distribution state when it comes to the division of property. However, there is no equitable division statute in Alabama and the law is largely a development of state law. This law does not mean that all assets and liabilities must be allocated equally, only equitably.
When parties submit themselves to the power of a court in equity it means that they are giving an Alabama judge the right to decide what is equitable regarding the allocation and distribution of any and assets. There are some limitations we will discuss later regarding this power specifically spelled out in the law.
This means that a judge can, as long as it's seen as equitable, award all assets of the parties to just one party, 85% of assets to one party, and the like.
In order for a judge's order in a contested divorce to be overturned on appeal, they must be found to have abused their discretion by the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. This is a very high standard and it is very hard to overturn a divorce judge's ruling on property division.
Alabama is Not a Community Property State
Some states in the U.S. handle the distribution of marital assets differently than Alabama. These states, like California, are known as community property states. A community property state requires an equal distribution of assets during the marriage, not an equitable one.
Does Misconduct Affect an Alabama Divorce Property Settlement?
Misconduct, such as adultery, domestic abuse, drug abuse, abandonment, and the like may affect an Alabama property division. A judge in Alabama has the right to make allowances to either spouse as a result of the misconduct. This simply means that a judge may alter a property division in the favor of the spouse not committing the misconduct. Again, if you commit adultery an Alabama judge can hold that against the offending party during a divorce and award more of the marital estate to the non-offending party.
Factors in Determining Alabama Property Division During a Divorce
Many factors can be used to argue for an equitable division of assets in Alabama. Common factors considered during a dissolution of marriage are listed below:
- Length of Marriage
- Health of Parties
- Future Prospects
- Contribution of the Parties to the Marital Estate
Lawyers That Know Property Division
Property division is obviously one of the most contentious issues during an Alabama divorce. It is imperative that you seek counsel from a Huntsville divorce attorney that knows the law, has handled thousands of cases and practiced divorce law for decades. Our Alabama divorce law firm has won numerous awards for family law and divorce. We pride ourselves on giving each client the individual attention they need and fighting the divorce fight dictated by our clients' wishes. We regularly represent clients facing divorce, child-custody, child-custody modifications, and military divorce throughout Huntsville and in Madison, Limestone, and Morgan Counties. Please contact us here for a free consultation, or give us a call at 256-692-5333. Please be sure to also review our very happy client testimonials.