Two new laws that went into effect January 1, 2018, will impact any future divorces.

The first, Alabama house bill 257, which provides courts a formula to now award just rehabilitative alimony, which are payments lasting five years or less, of course there are possible exceptions to the law.

If the courts find a reason to deviate from rehabilitative alimony, they cannot order alimony payments to last longer than the length of the marriage, unless the marriage lasted longer than 20 years.

For that, there is no time limit.

To determine the amount and duration of alimony payments, the courts will look at several factors such as custody of children, individual assets, marital property, and employment, just to name a few.

“You would understand what the court is looking for, you have these factors to look at,” said local Family Attorney, Chris Capps.

“These are factors the court has considered for a number of years, however, the legislature has now codified them by making them a law.”

Capps said this gives those going through a divorce a better idea of what to expect if it goes to trial.

Which brings up another new law, Alabama Code – Section 30-2-56.

“You file a divorce, it may take six, or seven months in a heated contested divorce case to get in front of a judge,” said Capps. “I’ve been involved in several divorces that have lasted 12-14 months, when you’re trying to get your case ready for trial it sometimes takes longer.”

During which one party could be without income.

“Under this new law, the court has the ability to go in and award interim alimony or temporary alimony,” said Capps.

It was passed by the legislature, but now it’s up to the courts to apply it on a case by case basis.

“What appears to be black and white sometimes is not black and white,” said Capps. “And we have the court system, and there may be some changes that the courts send down through their written opinions.”