The Complaint for divorce is a form provided by the court that the Plaintiff fills out in order to initiate divorce proceedings. If you are the spouse filing the Complaint then you will be the Plaintiff and your spouse the Defendant in the divorce case. In the complaint, you may have to certify several things, including that the two of you cannot live together as husband and wife anymore and state the grounds for divorce. Your divorce lawyer will usually prepare and file the Complaint in most cases.
In an uncontested divorce you can state that the two of you are no longer getting along and you have irreconcilable differences, which means neither party is at fault for bringing about the divorce. Then you can request such things in your Complaint as granting your divorce, giving you back your maiden name, ordering the other party to pay child support, ordering you custody of your child, and many other marital issues. In an uncontested divorce you are asking the judge to enter your agreement that both of you have signed, since all matters have been resolved already.
In order to file a divorce complaint, you need to meet the residency requirement of residing in the State of Alabama for at least six months prior to filing the complaint. You can file a divorce in the Circuit Court of 1) the county where the Defendant resides, 2) in the county where the Plaintiff resides if the Defendant is not a resident of Alabama, or 3) in the county where the spouses resided at the time of separation. The divorce complaint is usually filed alongside a Marital Settlement agreement which lays out the “who gets what” terms of the divorce for the court. If it is not uncontested, then after the Plaintiff files the complaint, the Defendant replies with the Answer. Testimony is then taken where grounds for the divorce are declared.
After the complaint is filed, a thirty day cooling off period has to take place before a judge may issue a final divorce decree, whether it is uncontested or not. This is a state law aimed at allowing both parties to reflect after the paperwork is filed to make sure divorce is what they want. This cooling off period does not usually have a significant effect on the wait time to get a divorce decree in a no fault divorce, especially compared to the length of time it takes to obtain a contested divorce decree. Most uncontested divorces in Alabama take about a month or two after everything has been signed and filed with the court.
In cases involving minor children where child support is requested, the Plaintiff must also file several forms related to child support. The Child Support Information Sheet provides information about child support in Alabama and also both parties must file an income affidavit. Other forms may be required related to child support and compliance. The Plaintiff also must file a Standing Pre-Trial Order, which prohibits the spouses from taking a minor out of state and from harassing each other while waiting for the divorce decree.
Getting divorced necessarily involves a lot of paperwork. The least amount of paperwork is involved in uncontested divorces where both parties agree on the terms of the divorce. This is the fastest and cheapest way to get divorced. Contested divorces are where the spouses cannot agree on how to divide their assets, custody, child support, or any other marital issue and want a judge to decide it for them. While you can fill out and file the divorce complaint and other forms without hiring an attorney, if you make a mistake it could seriously impact how quickly you can get divorced and could cost you more than if you had hired a local divorce attorney to begin with.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, probate, and real estate closings on this website. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply feedback. We appreciate our readers & love to hear from you!