Filing for divorce is never an easy decision, but sometimes it is the best option for a couple who can no longer make their marriage work. If you are considering filing for divorce in Alabama, there are certain legal steps you will need to take to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. In this article, we will discuss the basics of filing for divorce in Alabama and navigating the legal system.
Grounds for Divorce in Alabama
Before you can file for divorce in Alabama, you must have a valid reason or “ground” for the divorce. The state of Alabama recognizes both “no-fault” and “fault” grounds for divorce. No-fault grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences, meaning that the marriage cannot be saved due to the breakdown of the relationship. Fault grounds for divorce include adultery, abuse, desertion, drug or alcohol addiction, or imprisonment. A no-fault divorce is available in all 50 states because it is the most streamlined way to end a marriage. On the other hand, a fault divorce usually requires the spouses to hire attorneys, introduce evidence, and spend more time in court. Both “types” of divorce terminate the marriage, and the judge will decide all divorce-related issues, like property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.
Filing for Divorce
To file for divorce in Alabama, one of the spouses must have been a bona fide resident of the state for six months prior to the filing of the Complaint. A Complaint for Divorce may be filed in the circuit court of the county in which the Defendant (non-filing spouse) resides, or in the circuit court of the county in which the parties resided when the separation occurred, or if the defendant is a nonresident, then in the circuit court of the county in which the Plaintiff (filing spouse) resides. Each jurisdictional court usually has a domestic relations or a family law department or division. Once all of the paperwork has been submitted, you will need to wait 30 days before your divorce can be finalized. During this time period, both parties may attempt to negotiate an agreement on issues such as alimony or child custody if they cannot come to an agreement on their own. If an agreement cannot be reached during this time period, then a judge will make decisions regarding these matters at trial.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
The uncontested divorce is where both spouses agree to all the terms of the divorce. A contested divorce is where the spouses cannot agree and must go through the entire divorce process to get a judge to make the final decision. The uncontested divorce is accomplished by filing a joint petition for divorce. A contested divorce is accomplished by filing the divorce papers and then serving your spouse with them. Uncontested divorces are easier because both spouses agree on all the issues such as child custody, child support, division of marital assets, and alimony. Contested divorces are harder because you proceed through the divorce process until a judge makes a final decision, or you and your spouse reach a settlement. Uncontested divorces cost less and take less time. Also known as Joint Petition for Divorce, an uncontested divorce is quicker and cheaper because there are no court hearings.The most simple procedure for an uncontested divorce is to fill out all of the necessary paperwork and submit it to your local courthouse. You will need to provide information about yourself, your spouse, any children involved, assets and debts held by each party, and any other relevant information. It is important to note that if you have minor children from the marriage, you may need additional documents such as child support forms or parenting plans.
In divorce mediation, you and your spouse meet with a trained, neutral mediator to discuss and resolve the issues in your divorce. Mediation sessions often take place in an informal office setting, but you might also be able to go through your mediation online. A mediator can help you reach agreement on the issues you and your spouse need to resolve in order to finalize your divorce, such as child custody, child support, and property division. Mediators don’t make decisions or offer legal advice, but rather serve as facilitators to help spouses figure out what’s best for their situation.
Hiring an Attorney
Hiring a divorce lawyer is crucial when going through the divorce process. Regardless of whether the marriage is being dissolved amicably or fought in a court, it’s important to have qualified and experienced legal advice to help guide you through the process. It can be unwise to approach a divorce without hiring a divorce lawyer. Family law is complex. You don’t want to make a mistake that can prove very costly when the environment is already sensitive.
It is important to understand all of the laws surrounding filing for divorce in Alabama so that you can make informed decisions throughout the process. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected throughout this difficult time.
In conclusion, filing for divorce in Alabama can be a complicated and emotional process, but understanding the legal system and your options can make the process easier. It is important to carefully consider your grounds for divorce, file the necessary paperwork correctly, and work with a Decatur divorce lawyer if necessary to ensure your rights are protected.