The quickest and easiest way to get a divorce in Alabama is by filing an uncontested divorce. 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 their joint assets. If you have minor children, you’ll also need to agree on custody matters. When you agree on the terms and are both committed to getting a quick and easy divorce, the process is much faster.
This makes sense when you consider that marriage is, in the eyes of the law, essentially 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.
As far as hiring a lawyer goes, you don’t technically have to hire a lawyer to file your divorce paperwork. But, while you may not technically need to hire a lawyer to file a divorce for you, having an experienced lawyer 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 lawyer to represent you in your 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 local contested divorce 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.
Another benefit of an uncontested divorce is that the parties normally do not have to appear in court. However, some counties are more difficult than others. For example, in Etowah and Madison Counties, they sometimes require a hearing in some uncontested divorces, even though both spouses are in agreement. Representing yourself in court proceedings is called acting as a “pro se” litigant. Pro se litigants have a right to file for an uncontested divorce themselves. But you should be aware, the judge and court clerks will hold pro se litigants to the same standards they hold licensed attorneys in terms of knowing what to file, where to file it, how it should be worded, and applicable laws to apply. You may be tempted to ask the judge or court staff what you should do.
While judges and court staff are generally friendly and can offer you some information about what documents to file, it is against the law for them to give you legal advice and they cannot tell you how to prepare your documents. They will advise you to seek out a lawyer that handles divorce cases.
The Harris Law Firm currently charges a flat fee for these types of divorces. The court costs for filing an uncontested divorce in Alabama varies by county and ranges from around $200 to over $350. Most counties have their own unique local requirements in order to obtain an uncontested divorce, such as having certain language included in your Settlement Agreement or other documents.
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!