What is a Default Divorce in Alabama Courts

In Alabama, a default divorce is a divorce that the court orders when the responding spouse does not respond to the divorce petition within a specified time limit. Generally, that time limit is thirty days. The plaintiff, through their Birmingham divorce attorney, can request a divorce judgment by default by filing a motion.  Default Divorce Can Help in Alabama

In a default divorce, the judge bases their ruling on the oral or written testimony of the plaintiff. The defendant is not considered. If the defendant files a response to the request for a default divorce judgment, the court will not order a default divorce and the divorce will be considered contested. At that point, the spouses can avoid a trial by settling the case. If the case goes to trial, the judge will decide matters such as custody of the children, the amount of child support, spousal support (alimony), and the division of property. 

To complete a request for divorce judgment by default, the plaintiff will need the following information:

  • the first and last name of the defendant
  • the former first and last name of the plaintiff, if the plaintiff wants to take back the name they used before this marriage
  • the plaintiff’s mailing address
  • the case number
  • the county in which the divorce is filed, and 
  • the plaintiff’s mailing address.

A spouse has 42 days from the date of the final decree in a divorce case to file a divorce appeal. A divorce appeal is first heard by the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in Montgomery. The issues in a divorce appeal may include child custody, child support, division of retirement, and division of property. The appellate court does not change the trial court’s (lower court’s) decision on an issue of fact unless they find the trial court acted outside the law.

An uncontested divorce in Calhoun County, or anywhere else in Alabama, is different from a default divorce. An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which neither spouse attempts to prove the other engaged in misconduct. That is, neither spouse says the other is at fault for the divorce. The plaintiff filing for an uncontested divorce must state that the spouses cannot get along. The grounds a plaintiff can cite for an uncontested divorce include incompatibility, irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, and voluntary abandonment. Grounds such as adultery and imprisonment are better suited for a fault-based divorce. 

A divorce can be both default and uncontested. An uncontested divorce is the easiest type of divorce to obtain. It also takes the least amount of time to obtain (30 days). A person who has questions about filing for divorce should contact a Montgomery divorce attorney who has represented clients in uncontested and fault-based divorces. The attorney can act as a consultant, helping them fill out forms. The online divorce attorney can also come to court as the client’s legal representative. 

A person who is dealing with an abusive or narcissistic spouse should speak to a divorce attorney about the best way to approach communication and filing. There are ways to minimize conflict and interaction. It helps if the client can live separately from such a spouse as soon as possible after deciding to get divorced. 

If a divorce is contested, a person will have to disclose their assets to the court. They should be prepared to share what property they own separately and jointly with their spouse. A divorce attorney can represent a client in creating a marital settlement agreement (MSA), that discloses information relating to the minor children and property owned by the parties. 

Spouses can work with a mediator to develop a MSA that is adequate for both sides. The spouses then present the MSA to the judge. If the judge approves it, they will make the MSA part of the divorce decree. This approval can help the parties avoid a trial.

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