The Different Grounds for Divorce
Recently, a potential client came into my office to talk about a potential divorce action. Among the different things we discussed were the various “grounds” for divorce under Alabama law. She eventually questioned if it really mattered why she wanted a divorce. Actually, it does.
Under Alabama, a court cannot grant you a divorce unless you have stated a proper “ground” or legal reason why you are wanting a divorce. The various grounds for divorce accepted by Alabama courts are located in Alabama Code Section 30-2-1. Most people know the more common grounds for divorce like adultery, incompatibility, and/or an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. However, under Alabama law there are several other grounds of which many people are not aware. Specifically, the circuit court has power to divorce persons from the bonds of matrimony, upon a complaint filed by one of the parties, for one or more of the following causes:
“When the other party was, at the time of the marriage physically and incurably incapacitated from entering into marriage.” The party claiming this ground must show that the other party was physically (usually mentally) unable to legally agree to get married in the first place.
“Voluntary abandonment from bed and board for one year next preceding the filing of the complaint.” This is the divorce ground that most people are talking about when they claim their spouse has abandoned them. However, what most people don’t know is that in order to prove this ground, the claiming party has to show the abandonment has been for a full year before the filing of a divorce complaint.
“Imprisonment in the penitentiary of this or any other state for two years, the sentence being for seven years or longer.” This ground is pretty self-explanatory. The imprisonment must be for two actual years and the actual sentence must be for more than seven years.
“The commission of a crime against nature, whether with mankind or beast, either before or after marriage.” This one doesn’t get used a lot, but “crimes against nature with mankind” in Alabama means homosexuality. “Crimes against nature with a beast” means just what you think.
“For becoming addicted after marriage to habitual drunkenness or to habitual use of opium, morphine, cocaine or other like drug.” This ground covers all addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. I don’t know why the legislature specifically points out opium, morphine, and cocaine.
“When one party, after marriage, shall have been confined in a mental hospital for a period of five successive years, if such party from whom a divorce is sought is hopelessly and incurably insane at the time of the filing of the complaint.”
“In favor of the husband, when the wife was pregnant at the time of marriage, without his knowledge.”
“In favor of either party to the marriage when the other has committed actual violence on his or her person, attended with danger to life or health, or when from his or her conduct there is reasonable apprehension of such violence.” This ground covers instances of actual physical abuse.