Alabama Divorce Lawyers
There are generally two ways to file for divorce in Alabama, an uncontested divorce and filing a contested divorce. All divorce proceedings begin with the filing of a document called a Complaint. The Complaint basically is asking the particular Court for specific requests, such as to issue an Order granting him or her a divorce and to award certain things to them concerning the division of marital property, custody, and other marital issues. For example, the Complaint might request that the filing party be awarded child support, custody of their children, alimony, and certain marital assets. Since no agreement has been reached, the party filing the Complaint (called the Plaintiff) is just requesting these things in the divorce proceeding. This document is filed no matter what type of divorce you are seeking, but in an uncontested divorce the Complaint is not requesting marital property and custody awards, since those things are included in the Settlement Agreement that is filed with it.
An uncontested divorce is where both parties reach an agreement prior to filing for divorce and the agreement is filed at the time of the divorce Complaint being filed. All of the required documents are also filed with the initial filing so that the divorce can proceed to be signed by the Judge without the need for a hearing, since both parties are in agreement. For more information on filing for a contested divorce you can call our Alabama divorce lawyers for a consultation. For further information on an uncontested divorce, you can call our office or go to the Alabama uncontested divorces page on this website.
If no agreement is filed with the Complaint, then it is a contested divorce proceeding and the first consideration is how to properly serve the other party (called the Defendant). If the Defendant can be located, then the Plaintiff just serves the Complaint on the Defendant by mail or in person. This delivery of the Complaint to the Defendant is called “service of process” and once the Defendant is properly “served” with the Complaint, then they have thirty (30) days to respond by filing a document called an Answer.
Once this Answer is filed then a Court date is usually set and both parties begin the process of a contested divorce, which includes having hearings and eventually, if both parties cannot reach an agreement, it will go to a trial where evidence will be presented to the Judge (witnesses take the stand and testify) and the Judge will decide how to divide your marital assets, custody issues, and all other contested marital issues that the spouses could not reach an agreement on. Once the trial is over, you will be officially divorced subject to the decision of the Court concerning division of marital assets and custody or visitation determinations.
This contested divorce can be very expensive, with the attorney fees typically being thousands of dollars (not counting your filing fee that every court charges when a divorce is filed). So, both parties are always encouraged to reach an agreement if possible in order to save money and time (it can sometimes take quite a long time to get a trial in a contested divorce case).
If you cannot locate your spouse and a Complaint is filed, then you are not able to properly “serve” your husband or wife. In this case, Alabama allows you to do a certain type of process called service by publication. This is a process whereby a notice is run in the local newspaper alerting your spouse that you have retained an attorney and filed for divorce and to respond immediately. If they do not respond within a certain time period, then the Judge can grant you a default divorce, which means the Defendant did not respond and you receive your divorce by default. This is usually a good option if you have not spoken to your spouse in many years and do not have any idea where they are or they are in another country and you do not know where they live.
For more information about the considerations in filing for divorce in Alabama you can go to one of the informative pages below or call us to speak with our divorce lawyers:
Divorce requirements vary greatly depending on the county in which you file your Complaint. For more information on filing for an uncontested divorce in the various local courthouses across Alabama, you can go to the Uncontested Divorce Requirements page for the requirements where you currently reside.