Perhaps you have been hit with unexpected divorce papers, you and your spouse have agreed to divorce, or you are the spouse filing for divorce. Regardless of how it happens, it is a sure bet that you will have many questions regarding the Alabama divorce process. Having an experienced Alabama divorce attorney can ensure you get straight answers to such questions as “Who gets the house in an Alabama divorce?” According to divorce.com, almost 68 percent of all married couples are homeowners, therefore, the house must be divided in an equitable manner. You may feel you are entitled to the marital home because you owned it prior to the marriage or have contributed most of the finances required when purchasing a home. If you have children, you may want to keep them in a home they are familiar with, or that will allow them to remain in their current school district.
In many divorces, the marital home is the biggest asset, therefore, it is crucial that it is fairly divided. When you choose Hankey Law Firm for your Alabama divorce, you will have an attorney who will advocate for you at every turn, after comprehensively evaluating the facts and circumstances of your divorce. Attorney Shelbie Hankey will make sure that a deadline is never forgotten, and that you are always apprised of what is happening with your divorce. At Hankey Law Firm, we are professional, we are excellent communicators, and we never take the easy way out. We will fight to get you everything you are entitled to from your divorce.
The state of Alabama is an equitable distribution state rather than a community property state. In community property states, all marital assets are divided right down the middle—50/50. Equitable division states seek to divide marital assets fairly, rather than equally. This means that if one spouse contributed all the money that purchased the home, he or she may have a larger stake in the home than the spouse who contributed no money. Of course, who gets the house in an Alabama divorce will also depend on whether one spouse owned the home at the time of the marriage, or whether the home was an inheritance or gift to one spouse.
In cases like these, how the house will be split will be determined by whether the other spouse was added to the title of the house, whether marital funds were implemented to make repairs or improvements to the house, and whether the value of the house has significantly increased since the marriage. If there are children, the parent with custody of the children is often entitled to keep the house, with the court ordering the spouse with the higher income to make all or a portion of the mortgage payments for a set amount of time.
If, however, the spouse who wants to continue living in the marital home simply cannot afford the upkeep and mortgage, the home will likely be sold at some point, with the proceeds divided according to the Divorce Decree. In some cases, one spouse can “buy out” the other spouse’s interest in the home or exchange certain assets in return for being able to keep the home.
There are so many factors associated with how the marital home will be split that only your attorney can accurately determine whether you will be able to keep the marital home—and if so, how. If you owned the house prior to your marriage, this is no guarantee that you will automatically be able to keep the house. If you have never placed your spouse’s name on the title of the house and you have never used marital funds to make improvements to the house or perform upkeep, then you may be able to keep the house as your sole and separate property. If you and your spouse bought the home together, then whether you will be able to keep the house will depend on a number of factors, such as:
Once all these questions are answered, your attorney will be able to help you determine whether you can keep the marital home.
Since Alabama is not a community property state, marital property is not automatically divided 50/50. An Alabama judge will determine property division based on each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, along with their earning ability and needs following the divorce. If one spouse engaged in financial misconduct, this could have a bearing on how the marital home is split. In practice, Alabama judges often divide marital property by assigning two-thirds of the marital assets to the higher-earning spouse, and one-third to the lower-earning spouse.
Non-monetary contributions of each spouse are also considered. This means that a spouse that stayed home to care for the children and the home, while supporting the other spouse professionally, may be entitled to a larger percentage of the home, even if they were not actively earning a living. If you happen to be the higher-earning spouse, you may be asked to buy out your spouse’s interest in the marital home (assuming you want to remain in the home). It’s more difficult—but not impossible—for the lower-earning spouse to come up with the funds to buy out the other’s interest in the home.
When you choose Hankey Law Firm, attorney Shelbie Hankey—who is highly experienced in Alabama property distribution—will help you determine whether you can remain in the marital home, and the best way to achieve that goal. At Hankey Law Firm, we are friendly yet professional, experienced yet approachable, and zealous yet compassionate, while always believing strongly in client communication. We want you to know everything that happens in your case, without delay. Contact Hankey Law Firm today to speak to attorney Shelbie Hankey and get answers to your most pressing questions.