The legal term “marital property" is defined broadly as all the possessions and interests acquired after a couple gets married. Some states have gone further and recognized that all marital property is considered equally owned by both parties as "community property." And, after a divorce, this community property is equally divided. Alabama, like most states, has no community property laws on the books, therefore allowing for more flexibility (and more uncertainty) in property division following a divorce.
This is an introduction to marital property laws in Alabama.
Marital Property Laws in Alabama
Each state may have unique marital property laws. Marital property laws in Alabama are highlighted in the table below.
Community Property Recognized?
Dower And Curtesy
Dower and curtesy abolished
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Marital Property and Separate Property
With a few exceptions, the property you buy or receive while you are married becomes marital property, regardless of whose name is on the title. Marital property is jointly owned and will get jointly divided, as close to evenly as possible, should you get divorced. On the other hand, separate property is property that you owned before the marriage and is generally not subject to division in a divorce. The exceptions to the marital property rule include things like inheritance, a gift, and in some cases a 401K that are instead considered separate property.
With no community property law on the books in Alabama, courts are tasked with determining an equitable (not equal) property division. Generally speaking, courts decide that each spouse getting about half of everything they own jointly is fair. However, a court could decide that an unequal property split is fair. If you don't want to leave it up to the court and you and your spouse can come to your own agreement regarding property division, a court will generally accept that agreement.
Alabama Marital Property Laws: Related Resources
Sorting out marital property issues during a divorce can be complex, emotionally and legally. You can visit FindLaw's divorce and property section for additional articles and information on this topic.
A divorce attorney can help assess your case and distinguish between marital and separate property. You can contact an Alabama divorce attorney if you would like legal assistance with a divorce or marital property matter.