In Alabama, a judge may decline to grant your divorce, but not without a good reason. A judge will typically only deny an uncontested divorce if there are procedural matters that haven’t been done properly, something is unclear or confusing, or something is not in the best interests of the child. In a contested divorce, such things as insufficient grounds could justify denial, if you are citing a particular reason you are divorcing your spouse. Other common issues include procedural errors such as residency requirements, failure to properly serve your spouse with divorce papers, and not filling out the paperwork correctly.
Grounds must be given for a divorce in your complaint. If you decide to list a particular “fault” as your grounds for divorce (adultery, abandonment, cruelty, habitual drunkenness, etc.) you will have to prove the allegations you make against your spouse. An uncontested divorce has no fault. However in a contested divorce, you will often list a fault of one party or another. This can be difficult, depending on the charge and the evidence you have. Citing a fault can also cost you more in legal fees and it will take more time for the court to finalize the divorce. This is because the court has to consider your allegations and supporting evidence before it decides whether or not your grounds are valid. That is why most couples choose to go with an uncontested or no fault divorce.
To file for a divorce, you or your spouse must have resided in Alabama for at least six months. If you are the one filing for divorce then you are the Plaintiff and your spouse is the Defendant. You can file a Complaint for Divorce in the Circuit Court of the county where the Defendant resides, the county where the Plaintiff resides if the Defendant is not a resident of Alabama, or in the county where the spouses resided at the time of separation. For the Complaint for Divorce, you will need to have the following information available: Name, age, and residency of both parties; names of minor children and their dates of birth; grounds for divorce; marriage date and date of separation; acknowledgment that the parties have assets and debts for division; a plea for the court to take jurisdiction of the case, and provide the requested relief.
If you are the Plaintiff, when you file the Complaint you will also ask the court to grant your terms regarding things like alimony, child custody, property division, and child support. Once you file, the Defendant has thirty days to respond and the complaint must be delivered to the Defendant by the sheriff’s department, certified mail, or a process server. The Defendant’s answer to your filing is very important, because if your spouse doesn’t agree with what you are asking for your spouse (or his/her attorney) can make their own set of demands and/or file a counterclaim against you. If the Defendant refuses to respond to your Complaint, you can ask the court for a default judgment in your favor.
You are much more likely to run into procedural errors in your divorce if you file your divorce yourself without the help of an attorney. Making mistakes in your paperwork can lead to serious delays in obtaining your divorce decree. Mishandling something as serious as a divorce could cost you more in the long run than hiring a divorce lawyer from the start. That is why it’s imperative that you retain a local Alabama divorce attorney to represent you. He or she can ensure that all local requirements are met in your uncontested divorce and that you obtain your divorce decree as quickly and easily as possible. This is why even in an uncontested divorce it is best to use an actual Alabama attorney and not go with some online document preparation company.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, and real estate closings on this website. He is always available in any of the firm’s offices or by phone anytime for a consultation. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply any feedback. We appreciate our readers and love to hear from you!