Family Law and Divorce in Alabama
UNCONTESTED DIVORCE STARTING AT $290
Your Alabama Family Law Attorney
Our family law and divorce lawyers can help you with your family law matter, no matter where you are located in the State of Alabama. We have offices across the State and will be happy to speak to you about your legal issue. If you are interested in a cheap divorce, we are currently charging $290 in attorney fees for uncontested divorces without minor children and $390 with minor children of the marriage. An uncontested divorce is where both parties are in agreement about all of your marital issues.
If there is no agreement, then you will have to file a contested divorce. In a contested divorce, a retainer is paid and the divorce lawyer begins working and billing out of the retainer at an hourly rate. The retainer fees for a contested divorces can range from $1500 to $5,000 or more, depending on the law firm. If you call our divorce lawyer today they can give you a quick and free phone consultation and usually quote you a retainer fee the same day you call. You can also call and schedule an in person appointment with our local divorce attorney anytime.
If you need a post divorce petition filed we usually charge retainers for that as well. When you call and speak to our attorney we can also quote our retainer fees for additional matters such as adoptions, probate, or LLC creation. If you want to get the uncontested divorce process started then you can fill out and send us a divorce questionnaire online today. If you need help with some other family law matter, then call us today to speak with our family law attorney for a quick consult over the phone.
All divorce proceedings in Alabama begin with the filing of a document called a Complaint. The Complaint is a legal document that basically is asking the particular Court for specific things. Some things the Complaint might ask for are an Order granting him or her a divorce and to award certain things to them concerning the division of marital property, custody, and other marital issues.
For example, the Complaint might request that the filing party be awarded child support, custody of their children, alimony, and certain marital assets. If no agreement has been reached at the time of filing, then the party filing the Complaint (called the Plaintiff) is just requesting these things in the divorce proceeding. This document is filed no matter what type of divorce you are seeking, but in an uncontested divorce the Complaint is not requesting marital property and custody awards, since those things are included in the Settlement Agreement that is filed with it.
An uncontested divorce is where both parties reach an agreement before a case is started, and the agreement is filed at the same time as the Complaint. All of the required documents are filed with the Complaint and settlement agreement, that has already been signed by both parties, so that the divorce can proceed to be signed by the Judge without the need for a hearing, since both parties are in agreement at the time of filing.
These types of divorces are cheaper than filing without an agreement, since divorce attorneys will usually charge a low, flat fee to prepare the documents for you. Since there are no contested issues, attorneys can know that they won’t have to go to court so can just charge you for preparing paperwork and filing it. We are currently charging $290 for these types of cases with no children and $390 with minor children of the marriage. We charge slightly more when there are minor children involved since there is additional paperwork and concerns when filing such a case, even if both parties have reached an agreement.
An uncontested divorce can be done for a low flat fee. However, to file a contested divorce, you will have to pay our attorney a retainer. This retainer is a lump sum amount that allows the lawyer to bill out of. The divorce lawyer starts work on the case and bills you at an hourly rate, using the retainer to pay them for the hours worked on your case. Most retainers for contested divorces can range from $1500 to $5,000 more more, depending on the law firm, the complexity of the matter and legal issues involved, and other such factors that might give the lawyer an indication of the amount of work that will be performed during the case.
If no agreement is filed with the Complaint, then it is a contested divorce proceeding and the first consideration is how to properly serve the other party (called the Defendant). If the Defendant can be located, then the Plaintiff just serves the Complaint on the Defendant by mail or in person. This delivery of the Complaint to the Defendant is called “service of process” and once the Defendant is properly “served” with the Complaint, then they have thirty (30) days to respond by filing a document called an Answer.
Once this Answer is filed then a Court date is usually set and both parties begin the process of a contested divorce. This process includes having hearings and eventually, if both parties cannot reach an agreement, it will go to a trial. At a divorce trial, evidence will be presented to the Judge, witnesses take the stand and testify, and the Judge will decide how to divide your marital assets, custody issues, visitation rights, and all other contested marital issues that the spouses could not reach an agreement on.
This contested divorce can be very expensive, with the attorney fees typically being thousands of dollars (not counting your filing fee that every court charges when a divorce is filed). So both parties are always encouraged to reach an agreement, if possible, in order to save money and time (it can sometimes take quite a long time to get a trial in a contested divorce case). Give us a call now to speak with our local divorce lawyer and get a retainer quote over the phone today.
Petition for Contempt or Rule Nisi
Once a divorce is over, the parties are ordered to abide by the divorce decree. So if one party is ordered to pay child support or to vacate a home, they must do so or be held in contempt of court. To hold your ex-spouse in contempt of court you have to file something called a Petition for Contempt or Rule Nisi Petition. This is a filing where you lay out what they were ordered to do in the prior divorce decree (pay child support or transfer their rights by deed to you, etc.) and ask the judge for a hearing.
At the hearing, the Court holds determines whether the ex-spouse did what they were ordered to do or not. If they did not then they can be held in contempt and made to do so by the judge. The judge has many ways to force someone to abide by their order including fines and even jail in some cases. However, they must hold a full evidentiary hearing and listen to both sides. This means your attorney will have to present all of the facts to back up your allegations and the ex-spouse’s attorney will do the same. At the end of that trial the judge will ultimately determine whether to hold them in contempt or not. If your ex-spouse is not doing what they are supposed to be doing, then call us today for information on filing a contempt petition where your divorce was entered.
Petition to Modify
Once a divorce decree has been entered, the parties sometimes want to go back and change something. Whether it is child support or custody that needs to be changed, we can help you do that. To change the child support or custody entered in prior divorce, you have to file something called a Petition for Modification. In that filing you asks the judge to change the child support or custody arrangement and a hearing is set. If your ex-spouse is in agreement, then you can file an uncontested petition to modify and it can be ordered without any hearings at all. This is usually cheaper way to do this, but if your ex-spouse is not in agreement about the changes then you cannot do it without hearings.
Filing a petition to modify starts with the filing of the petition where you state out what you want to change and why. This filing has to be served on your ex-spouse. Once they are served they will have a certain amount of time to respond and when they do, a hearing will be set. At the hearing, the judge will ultimately decide whether to change your prior custody or child support arrangement based on your attorney’s argument in court. Modifying child support when a child turns nineteen (19) years of age is an example of a type of modification that is typically granted with or without the other spouse’s consent. Lowering or raising the amount of child support due to a change in income might be another legitimate reason to modify the prior divorce decree. If you want to change the custody arrangement because the parent with primary custody currently is unfit or incapable of maintaining primary custody then if the other parent is not in agreement you will have to prove why this is the case to the judge.
To file these types of cases we require a retainer. To get a quote for a retainer in your case then give our divorce attorney a call today for a quick phone consultation and they can usually let you know our retainer fee the same day you call. If you have any questions then give our local divorce attorney a call today for a consultation over the phone or to schedule an in person one in one of our offices.
In order to adopt a child, there are several things that must be done prior to the petition for adoption ever taking place. Petitions for Adoption are filed in the Probate Court of the County the child resides in. You typically need to retain a local attorney to file your petition and guide you through the adoption process. It can be simpler if the biological parents are in agreement and there is a step-parent to step in and take the place of that particular parent. For example, if a father is not in the child’s life anymore, but the step-father is, then if the biological father consents to the step-father adopting the child, then the process can be much simpler than having to overcome the objection of a biological father.
The adoption process begins with a pre-placement investigation. A guardian ad litem is appointed to represent the child’s interest in the case and takes part in the investigation of your home. This is done to ensure that you have a stable and safe environment for the child. Once investigation is complete, the child can be placed with you in your home. After the child has been in your home and care for thirty days then you can finally petition the court to formally adopt the child. The process involves serving the biological parents and getting consent, if possible, from the biological parents or otherwise terminating their parental rights.
Another investigation of your home is began after filing the petition but as long as you have a safe environment and the biological parent(s) are unfit or in agreement, it can usually be accomplished. You will definitely need an experienced adoption attorney to help you file the proper paperwork and represent your interest at all hearings. Our adoption attorneys work from a retainer that is paid up front when the case is started. Our retainer fees for adoptions range from $1200.00 (in cases of step-parent or uncontested adoptions) to $2000.00 or more in complex cases. If it is a case of step-parent adoption, then we can quote a lower discounted retainer fee than in other cases. However, the retainer will usually be lower if the biological parents are in agreement and higher if they are not. Call us today for a quick free phone consultation with our adoption attorney and they can usually quote you a retainer fee the same day you call.
Alabama Probate Courts
In Alabama, there are several different courts that are located in each county. There is the normal county court where criminal matters are heard, divorces and other civil lawsuits are filed, and many other matters are resolved by the county judges. There is also a special court called the Probate Court. The Probate Court in your county is where deeds are recorded, where marriage licenses are usually granted by the State of Alabama, where Last Wills and Testaments are probated and a deceased person’s estate is administered, where people can change their name, where you record corporate documents when creating an LLC or other corporate entity, and it is also where adoptions are done. This is also where someone can file to become Guardian or Conservator over someone else and where involuntary commitments are ordered as well. This and the county courthouse are the two main courts that are located in each county across the State of Alabama.
Our probate attorneys can help you draft a last will and testament, deeds, living will, power of attorney or other such estate planning documents. We normally charge a low flat fee to prepare such documents. You just need to call us and we can help prepare your documents as quickly as easily as possible. Our probate attorney is available for a quick free phone consultation or you can always set up an appointment with the attorney in person.
If you need to have a will probated after someone has passed away, we can help with that as well. Our attorney can file the proper pleadings and open up the decedent’s estate but will usually require something called a retainer to do so. A retainer is a lump sum amount paid up front for the attorney to begin working on your case. The attorney bills hourly out of this for the work performed. If you call today our lawyer can give you a quick free phone consultation and provide a quote the same day you call. If you want to schedule an in person appointment in one of our offices, we can do that as well. Just call the office and schedule an appointment or ask to speak to our probate lawyer over the phone today.
We can also help you create an LLC or other corporate entity and get it properly recorded at the Probate Court and with the Secretary of State. Our local attorney can sit down with you and help form your articles of incorporation, operating agreement, and other such corporate documents. We usually charge a flat fee to provide an in person consultation and to draft such documents for you. The amount depends on the complexity of the corporate entity being created. If you want to speak with our attorney you can always call and receive a free phone consult to go over your situation and usually get a quote the same day you call.