For the average family considering divorce in Alabama, child custody and splitting up assets are the two biggest issues. When it comes to asset division, the biggest source of contention is often the marital home. After all, your house is likely the most expensive purchase you made during your marriage. Your monthly mortgage payment probably represents a significant amount of your monthly income.
It is only natural and normal to want to receive a fair amount of the equity you have built up in your home during the course of your marriage. Informing yourself about Alabama laws and how the courts handle them can help you understand the likely outcome of your divorce. It is important to understand, however, that every divorce is unique and there is no guarantee about how the courts will rule on asset division in any given case.
Alabama courts look for a way to split assets equitably
Every state has its own unique approach to asset division in divorce. Alabama is among the majority of states that now favor an equitable division standard. Equitable division proceedings typically involve reviewing factors from the marriage. The courts will look at how long your marriage lasted, the contributions you and your spouse made to the marriage and your individual economic circumstances.
After considering all of those factors, they will try to arrange an asset division outcome that is fair to everyone involved. It is important to understand that equitable and fair does not inherently mean equal. Those factors from your marriage could mean that one spouse receives more of certain assets than the other does. That could mean that one of you gets to keep the home. In other cases, it could mean splitting the equity in your home.
There are many different ways for the courts to handle your house
As the most significant asset from your marriage, your home is likely something both you and your spouse have an interest in retaining. Unless you agree to share the home after your divorce, which is unlikely, the courts will have to find a way to split it. In some cases, they will allocate the house to one spouse.
The judge will decide which spouse retains the house based on various factors, such as child custody and creditworthiness. If only one spouse has the ability to obtain financing for the home or make mortgage payments, the courts may award the home to that spouse. However, in that scenario, they will likely allocate other valuable consideration or require that the refinancing includes cashing out some of the equity.
Sometimes, neither spouse will get to keep the home. The courts may find that neither spouse can maintain the property, or they may simply rule that the best option is to liquidate the home and split the proceeds. Knowing that there are many ways for the courts to approach your home, you can start to build a divorce strategy based on the outcome you would prefer.
If you hope to retain the home, documenting your income and creditworthiness could help you build a case. If you do not wish to retain the home, informing the courts of that preference early in the proceedings could help expedite the asset division process in your divorce.