Divorces in Gadsden or Rainbow City are handled in the Circuit Court of Etowah County, Alabama. In Etowah County, there are several different Courts including the Probate Court, Circuit Court, and District Court. The Circuit Court is the highest court in the county and is where all Etowah County divorces are filed. Circuit Courts are the Alabama trial courts of general jurisdiction that hear civil and criminal cases, and have jurisdiction over divorces. Whether a divorce is contested or uncontested, the hearing takes place before the Etowah County Circuit Judge. However, if the Etowah County divorce is uncontested, the parties do not normally have a hearing but sometimes will need to appear one time to give what is called testimony, which is a very quick and painless process and does not involve any substantial issues.
At least one party should be a resident of Alabama to file for divorce. To be considered a resident, you must have lived in Alabama for at least six months. If you are both residents of Alabama, you can file in whichever county either of you live or where you lived together at time of separation. For example, if you live in Marshall County and your spouse lives in Etowah County, and you lived together in DeKalb County at the time of your separation, you could potentially file your divorce in Dekalb County, Marshall County, or Etowah County. Sometimes people will try to file in a county where neither of them live for privacy concerns but this is not always an option unless both of you reside in the State of Alabama.
Filing a case in a county where neither of you live, or where you lived when separated, is sometimes allowed in Alabama, but it is ultimately up to the Etowah County judge to allow it. Many times counties discourage this forum shopping since they do not want filings to increase substantially in their county for one reason or another due to out of county residents liking their process better than other venues. When you call our Etowah County & Marshall County divorce lawyers we can help you decide where to file your divorce case.
Before you file a divorce, you will need to decide if it will be contested or uncontested. Uncontested divorces are filed when the spouses agree on the divorce, the division of their property, and all other issues. In Alabama, uncontested divorces are sometimes called no fault divorces. Generally, uncontested divorces are cheaper and quicker than contested divorces. These factors make filing an uncontested divorce much easier in most cases. A contested divorce is basically any divorce filed without an agreement. Contested divorces involve hearings and ultimately a trial in front of the judge and are much more expensive.
Once you have decided whether the divorce will be uncontested or contested, the next step will be retain a local Gadsden divorce attorney to file it for you. The party that files the Complaint is called the Plaintiff and the other spouse is the Defendant. The Defendant will have to sign the divorce paperwork in order for an uncontested divorce to be possible. With an uncontested divorce, the parties will submit a settlement agreement to the court indicating their agreement on all marital issues.
After your complaint and settlement agreement are filed for an uncontested divorce it takes anywhere from a week to a month or two usually for the judge to sign the divorce decree. The divorce decree is the official legal document that finalizes your divorce. Under Alabama law, the court can’t grant your divorce official until a mandatory thirty day waiting period from the time you file the Complaint has taken place. This is supposed to be a “cooling off” period to ensure both parties are sure of what they want.
There are lots of paperwork to be drafted and signed in the divorce process. Even more so if you have minor children or many assets. Also, each county can have their own special procedures about what they require in a divorce. Mistakes in your paperwork can lead to serious delays in obtaining your divorce decree. That is why it is important that you retain a local divorce lawyer to help you out. Our Alabama divorce attorney can ensure that all local rules are followed in your divorce and if it is contested then we can fight to make sure you get what you deserve in the final decree.
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!