If My Spouse Was Adulterous, Does That Affect My Alimony?
The division of property in an Alabama divorce must be “equitable,“ which means divided in a fair and reasonable manner. However, equitable does not necessarily mean equal. The same is true for an alimony award. A judge is not required to divide everything fifty-fifty. Instead, the judge is allowed to consider several different factors when determining alimony, including:
- earning ability of the spouses
- future prospects of the spouses
- age and health of each spouse
- length of the marriage
- spouses’ wealth, social status, and careers, standard of living, and potential to maintain that standard after the divorce
- type and value of property each spouse possesses
- conduct of the spouses and whether it led to the divorce
The judge is also free to consider any other factors he or she deems relevant. The “conduct of the spouses” includes adultery, if it caused the divorce. The law in Alabama provides that a judge can make an allowance to either spouse out of the estate of either spouse, or not make an allowance as the circumstances of the case may justify, and if an allowance is made, the misconduct of the spouse may be considered in determining the amount.
Ala. Code § 30-2-52. This statute means judges have the power to award the “innocent spouse” for being the victim when determining the amount of an alimony award. It goes both ways, meaning that the person receiving the alimony award could get less money if he or she was the one who committed adultery. The only real limitation is that non-marital property (property obtained before the marriage) cannot be made part of the alimony award.
On an interesting note, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has held that adultery committed before the marriage does not have any effect on an alimony award. Brewer v. Brewer, 695 So. 2d 1 (Ala. Civ. App. 1996).
Call our office if you have further questions, (205) 988-5570.