There are essentially two paths to take if you and your spouse decide to divorce. You can get a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce. As the name implies, a contested divorce means at least one of you disagrees with, or contests, at least one term of the divorce. The disagreement could be over things like property division, alimony, custody, or even whether you should be getting divorced at all. Uncontested divorces are also called “no fault” divorces and can only be entered into when both parties agree that divorce is what they want and agree on how to divide everything. The latter is almost invariably the faster and cheaper way to attain a divorce.
This makes sense when you consider that marriage is, in the eyes of the law, a contract between two people. Albeit it is a special kind of contract, but a contract nonetheless. When two parties agree on how to terminate a contract, it is usually a relatively straightforward and less stressful process. When there are disputes between the parties on how to terminate a contract, it becomes much more drawn out and expensive. The same is true of divorces.
In Alabama, divorces are handled by the Alabama Circuit Courts. Each county courthouse has a circuit court. These are the state’s trial courts of general jurisdiction that hear civil and criminal cases, including jurisdiction over divorces. However, if the divorce is uncontested, the parties do not normally need to appear before the judge.
You don’t technically need a lawyer to file for divorce. But, while you may not technically need to hire a lawyer to file a divorce for you, having an experienced Alabama lawyer work with you can make the process easier, quicker, and in many cases cheaper for you. They will bring their knowledge of the law and local court procedures to advise and serve you better. Having a local divorce lawyer to represent you in your uncontested divorce can help ensure you send in the correct paperwork to the court and that it is submitted in a timely manner. But more than that, an experienced lawyer will know the correct legal language to use in your filings. Even if you and your spouse are in total agreement about the terms of the divorce, and even if you turn in the correct paperwork on time to the judge, he or she could still reject it because the content was not legally sufficient to grant a divorce.
An uncontested divorce usually takes about six to eight weeks after everything has been signed by both spouses and filed with the court. This is a much faster turnaround time than a contested divorce. A contested divorce can take several months or even years, depending on if there is a trial or not. If both parties cannot reach an agreement during the contested divorce and a trial is necessary to determine the contested issues, then it can take much longer than an uncontested divorce. Contested divorces can also cost thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees, discovery fees, and other associated costs. If there is a way for you and your spouse to be able to agree on how to handle your divorce process, it can save you significantly more time, money, and stress.
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!