While a contested divorce can often be acrimonious, with issues like child custody, support, and the division of property making things difficult between both parties. Couples who can resolve these and other issues prior to filing can avoid the stress of a contested divorce by obtaining an uncontested divorce. If the terms of separation can be sorted out ahead of time and agreement can be met with minimal involvement of lawyers or mediators, then it is also possible to avoid going to court, with all the related costs that go with it.
Each state has requirements that must be met before an uncontested divorce can be filed. In Alabama, an uncontested divorce (also known as a simple divorce) is one where both spouses have come to an agreement to live separate lives. One spouse files for divorce based on no-fault grounds (meaning incompatibility or irreconcilable differences) and the other party agrees. Additionally, they must agree to resolve any major issues that would otherwise involve difficult negotiations, lawyers, and multiple court appearances. These issues include alimony, child custody, the division of property, and debt.
Child support is usually determined by using something called the child support guidelines. If either party wants to set a different amount from this determination, then they will have to agree to that as well, thus solidifying the process necessary for an uncontested divorce. Other requirements for an uncontested divorce in Alabama are that one spouse must be a resident of Alabama for at least six months before filing (Ala. Code § 30-2-5 (2021)), and both spouses must be willing and available to sign all the necessary paperwork.
Resolving issues up front is beneficial for several reasons. An uncontested divorce takes less time since there is no reason for you and your spouse to go before the court to argue your case. And since it takes less time, court costs and attorney fees are kept at a minimum. Attorneys can be consulted, as well as mediators, but even if that is the case the divorcing parties should still be able to avoid a lengthy court case. Sometimes minor areas of negotiation might be necessary even if most of the major issues have been resolved, and this might require the short-term use of an attorney or mediator. If the spouses agree to this process, then the involved third parties can bring the agreement to the court on their behalf. Either way you can get a quick divorce instead of litigating the issues in the court system.
If the divorcing couple are still on speaking terms, they can choose to consult divorce attorneys or mediators to assist in setting the terms for their uncontested divorce. With mediation, each party should have their own, separate, lawyer, since Alabama law bars the use of a single attorney for mediation purposes. Involving attorneys and mediators in your divorce can ensure that your paperwork for the county and state is completed properly, while also sorting out some of the more complicated financial and tax issues. Once again, this type of consultation can help you avoid multiple court appearances, if any at all. Divorces are difficult in any context, but if both parties can work together towards an uncontested divorce, then it can eliminate a lot of unnecessary 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!