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Is an Uncontested Divorce Really That Easy?

Divorce is rarely easy, at least emotionally. However, an uncontested divorce can be a very easy and quick process. A lot of it depends on how amicable and in agreement both spouses are about the desire to divorce, how to divide your assets, and custody of the children (if applicable). If you both agree on these and all other aspects of the divorce, then the process of obtaining a divorce can be relatively simple.

Uncontested divorces in Alabama are sometimes called no fault divorces. They are generally the easiest way to get a quick and cheap divorce.  It is where both spouses reach an agreement before anything is ever filed with the court. This agreement is then submitted at the beginning of the divorce, right when the case is filed, in order to show that there are no unresolved or contested issues. Is an uncontested divorce really that easy?Reaching an agreement before obtaining your divorce attorney is the best way to get a quick and easy divorce, since all that the lawyer has to do is prepare and file the signed paperwork.

The Plaintiff is the spouse that files for divorce. The responding spouse is called the Defendant. Grounds for a no fault divorce in Alabama include: the marriage is irretrievably broken down, spousal incompatibility, and voluntary separation for more than a year. You or your spouse must have resided in the state of Alabama for at least six months to file it here. You can file a Complaint for 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.  

If you are filing an uncontested divorce and do not have minor children, the Plaintiff will need to submit a Complaint for Divorce and Summons to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office. To speed up the process, the Defendant can sign an Acceptance and Waiver of Service form. After the Complaint for Divorce is filed, a thirty day “cooling off” period has to take place before a judge may issue a final divorce decree in Alabama. In an uncontested divorce, testimony may be taken via affidavits, depositions, or by the court clerk. The Complaint for Divorce is usually filed alongside a Marital Settlement agreement which lays out the “who gets what” terms of the divorce for the court. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint, the Defendant replies with the Answer to Compliant for Divorce. Testimony is then taken where grounds for the divorce are declared. 

If minor children are involved and 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.

An uncontested divorce usually takes at least a month or two 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 at least several months just to get started. If the parties cannot reach a quick resolution it could even take a year or longer, 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 a very long time. The quicker both parties agree to everything the quicker and simpler the process can take for everyone.

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