3rd Mar 2015

5774322-divorce-decree-gavel-and-folder-shot-on-warm-wooden-surfaceToday, Alabama is more often associated with family values and vacation days along the gulf than celebrity divorces.  But this hasn’t always been the case.  For 25 years, between 1945-1970, Alabama was a destination for celebrities, wealthy individuals, and anyone else looking for a fast divorce.

History of Celebrity Divorce in Alabama

It all began when Alabama removed its one-year residency requirement from its divorce laws while other states kept theirs.  Although unethical, this meant that anyone could obtain a divorce in Alabama by simply claiming that they were a resident.  It was not unheard of for someone to fly into the state and be divorced under Alabama law within the week (or faster).  Attorneys and the state itself made a lot of money by promoting Alabama as a divorce destination.  In 1960 alone, Alabama granted over 17,000 divorces.  By comparison, during the same year, Nevada granted just over 9,000.

John Daly, a New York game show host, divorced in Alabama during the state’s years as a so-called “divorce mill.”  Tina Onassis, daughter of a well-known Greek business magnate, divorced her husband, Aristotle Onassis in Alabama.  Aristotle went on to marry the former, Jacqueline Kennedy, giving her the last name that led to her nickname “Jackie O.”  Barbara Barb of New York also came to Alabama to obtain a quick divorce from her husband Charles Addams, the cartoonist that went on to create the Addams Family.

End of an Era

In 1970, a series of indictments put a final end to Alabama’s days as the nation’s divorce destination and the state’s residency requirements have since been reinstated. Today, for Alabama courts to have jurisdiction to issue a divorce, both parties must be permanent residents or under Alabama Code § 30-2-5, one of the parties “must have been a bona fide resident of this state for six months” before filing for divorce.  Courts don’t simply take an individual’s word; residency must actually be proven, but doing so is easy where an individual has in fact lived in Alabama for at least six months.

Thus, the days of obtaining a divorce in hours in Alabama are over and that’s not a bad thing.  For one, the national attention associated with fast divorces in Alabama was not the good kind. Further, a fast divorce isn’t always the best outcome for the divorcing parties.  Sometimes, the time between filing allows parties time to reconcile, or, even where reconciliation is impossible, to work out some of their disputes on their own.  In many situations, it would be impossible to properly distribute property and decide each parties rights in a single day, which would lead to more time in court down the line during disputes over property rights or custody of children.

The experienced Alabama divorce attorney at Semmes Law Firm offers efficiency with ethics.  Where possible and prudent, we are dedicated to getting your divorce completed as quickly as possible but never at the expense of a favorable outcome or complying with ethical rules.  To learn more about divorce in Alabama, contact Semmes Law Firm today.

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