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Stricter Divorce Laws in Alabama

Stricter Divorce Laws in AlabamaA proposed bill has been put before the Alabama Legislature which would make filing Alabama divorce forms much more difficult for those who have entered into a covenant marriage.

The proposed measure would require couples in a covenant marriage to enter counseling before they can file for divorce. It would also reduce the reasons for which married couples can file for a divorce.

Under the proposed bill, the circumstances for which married couples could file for divorce in Alabama are limited to:

  • A spouse abandons the shared home and refuses to return for the period of one year
  • One spouse has committed adultery
  • The other spouse physically, emotionally, or sexually abuses the spouse seeking divorce or one of the couple’s children
  • The spouses have been living apart for at least two years

Sen. Phil Williams, the sponsor of the bill, says, “[The bill] was designed, in part, to say that we believe the family unit is the backbone of our society and is worth preserving.” Williams followed that statement up by clarifying that this bill only applies to those who have entered into a covenant marriage, “It simply provides an option, and I stress, it’s simply and option.”

Not all the legislators are on-board with the new bill, though.

“Just don’t feel like it’s necessary,” Said Sen. Cam Ward. “When people get married, they make a pact before God. Seems like when you get married, you pledge to stay married. I don’t see the need for a super contract.”

Birmingham Democrat rep. Patricia Todd wondered whether the bill was something the legislature should be addressing while facing drastic budget cuts.

“This is just bizarre to me, that we’re thinking about this when we need to raise revenue to be able to avoid cuts to DHR [the Department of Human Resources] and mental health programs — it’s ridiculous,” she said.

The Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence opposes the bill, but worked with Williams to make changes. Executive Director Carol Gundlach believes it’s a barrier to those who wish to leave abusive relationships.

If the bill becomes law, it’s going to be much, much harder to file for a divorce in Alabama.

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