Divorce by Default

Filing a default divorce is necessary when the party against whom the divorce suit is brought does not respond within the time limit set by Alabama state law, which is generally thirty (30) days.  Often times, individuals cannot file an uncontested divorce in Alabama since they cannot locate their spouse and when they go to file a contested divorce they are unable to properly deliver service of process (meaning to actually “serve” their spouse with the filings) since they do not know where they live.  In Alabama, these default divorce procedures are sometimes called divorce by publication. This is where a spouse filing for divorce puts an add in a local newspaper about the divorce when the other party can not be contacted.  Generally, if the missing spouse does not answer the advertisement, then the divorce complaint filed by the other spouse can be granted and they can receive their divorce.

When a default divorce has been filed the following process has to be done.

  • Have a Birmingham divorce lawyer (or a local divorce lawyer where you reside) file your Complaint for divorce, along with the other necessary forms and legal documents required by your local jurisdiction.
  • Notify spouse of your filing for divorce in Alabama.
  • Attend your divorce hearing (if necessary).
  • In certain cases where the spouse cannot be properly served or notified, place a divorce by publication add in a local newspaper.

A default divorce, according to Alabama State divorce guidelines and laws, is a divorce where the other spouse does not sign an agreement in the beginning and does not respond to the Complaint filing (whether because they cannot be located or just do not choose to respond).  One spouse has their divorce attorney file a Complaint (similar to filing a civil lawsuit) and serve the other spouse with it.  If the other spouse does not respond within a specified period of time, then the filing spouse generally gets whatever was asked for in the original paperwork.  These are more costly in attorney’s fees usually and also the potential costs of serving, and possibly attempting to locate, the other spouse.  Also, if the other spouse does respond then the case gets set for hearings and eventually a trial and all attorney’s fees are much more expensive in this case (and the trial date sometimes doesn’t occur for many months or even over a year).

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