These blog postings concern family law matters such as divorce, custody, and child support. If you want to participate in the conversation then feel free to leave a message on any of the posts.

What Does Uncontested Divorce Mean?

In Alabama, there are two ways to file for a divorce: contested and uncontested. A contested divorce is one where the married couple cannot reach an agreement either about the divorce itself or about specific terms of the divorce. An uncontested divorce is where a married couple can reach an agreement about all aspects of the marriage dissolution. What Does Uncontested Divorce Mean?An uncontested divorce does not mean that there will be no disagreements. It just means that the couple does not need a judge to resolve anything for them because they were able to resolve all of their issues outside of court.

Many couples choose to file uncontested divorces because the cost is significantly lower and the time it takes to obtain the final divorce decree is much shorter than a contested divorce. There are no hearings and no court appearances required in an uncontested divorce because the couple resolves all issues and reaches an agreement before any documents are ever even filed. In an uncontested divorce, these documents should be prepared by an licensed Alabama divorce lawyer, properly executed by the couple, and then filed with the appropriate county court. Typically, a divorce lawyer’s flat fee for preparing documents for an uncontested divorce is significantly less than the retainer necessary for filing a contested divorce due to the fact that there are no issues that will have to be brought to court or decided at a hearing.

In Alabama, there are several documents that must be filed in order for a couple to obtain an uncontested divorce. One of these is the complaint, which is the formal document that gives rise to the divorce lawsuit. Another document filed in all uncontested divorces is an agreement entered into by the divorcing couple. This agreement reached by the spouses seeking an uncontested divorce is called a settlement agreement. It encompasses a resolution to all issues related to the couple’s divorce. What Does an Uncontested Divorce in Alabama Mean?Some of these issues may include the reason for the dissolution, child custody and visitation, distribution of debts, whether one spouse will pay alimony to the other, or who gets what assets like the house, vehicle, furniture, or other belongings. Because this agreement shows that there are no unresolved or contested issues remaining, it is submitted at the time the divorce is filed and the judge will review it at the beginning of the case.

Once the necessary documents are prepared by your local divorce lawyer and filed with the court, the assigned judge will review the documents and the settlement agreement. If the judge accepts the agreement reached by the couple, then they will enter a Final Decree of Divorce.  It takes at least thirty (30) days for the judge to enter this decree, due to a waiting period or cooling off period in Alabama, and then both couples will receive a copy once it is entered in the case. Once the judge issues their Final Decree of Divorce, the spouses are legally divorced but must wait a minimum of sixty (60) days before re-marrying someone else.

Keep in mind that some counties have a different process for obtaining an uncontested divorce and each county may have their own local procedures or unique document requirements.  This is why it is so important to have a divorce lawyer prepare documents for you instead of doing it yourself. The lawyers at The Harris Law Firm file hundreds of uncontested divorces every year in almost every county in State of Alabama. Because of this, we are familiar with the local requirements necessary for you to receive a cheap and quick divorce no matter where you are filing.

Is There a Waiting Period to Get a Divorce in Alabama?

Yes, there is a mandatory waiting period before a divorce can be finalized in Alabama. According to the Code of Alabama §30-2-1, et. seq., there is a thirty day waiting period that must pass after the date of filing the Complaint. Also, at least one party must have resided in the State of Alabama for six months prior to the date of filing. Divorce Waiting Period in AlabamaSo if you move to the State of Alabama, you and your spouse might have to wait until you have lived here long enough.

Divorces are one of the most stressful and emotional events a person can go through in their entire life. That is the rationale for this “cooling off” period. It is seen as a way to take a step back once the papers have been submitted, just in case the parties decide to reconcile.

Realistically, depending on the case load of the Court where the divorce complaint is filed, it could take thirty days for your divorce to be granted even if there was not a required thirty day waiting period. Contested divorces take much longer to get a final divorce decree, especially if there are children or large estates. Contested divorces can cost thousands of dollars and potentially take years to get settled or eventually be tried in front of a judge.

Uncontested divorces are the fastest and cheapest way to get a divorce. If both parties agree to the big questions of how to divide all assets and debts, child support and custody, and other property distribution then you can file an uncontested divorce. Cooling Off Period in AlabamaWhen the parties agree on all of those issues from the outset then that can make the divorce process quicker and easier. An uncontested divorce usually takes about five to eight weeks after everything has been signed by both spouses and filed with the court.

Thirty days from the time your divorce is filed is the fastest turnaround legally possible for a you to get divorced in Alabama. This is due to the aforementioned cooling off requirement, but practically speaking, most uncontested divorces take that long to process through the courts anyway. A quick turnaround time is also dependent upon all of the parties’ paperwork being filed on time and correctly. That is why it is so important to hire a local, experienced divorce attorney to handle your case. They can make sure everything is in order when filed with the Court and ensure the fastest possible processing time.