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Divorce

How To Calculate Alimony in Alabama

If you are getting a divorce in Alabama, alimony is one of the issues you are probably wondering about. Alimony, also called spousal support, is often one of the contested issues that people encounter during their divorce proceeding. Here, our divorce lawyers will discuss Alabama alimony laws and some other things you should know to determine whether alimony payments might be part of your divorce agreement. What Is Alimony? Alimony is a series of payments that one spouse must pay to another after a divorce. Not all divorces involve alimony. Your divorce will involve alimony only if you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce and include alimony as part of the agreement or if the court orders it based on your circumstances.  Courts award alimony based on the financial needs of the lesser earning spouse. One spouse may have to pay alimony to the lesser earning spouse for a period of time while the lesser earning spouse goes through job training or finishes school. Types of Alimony in Alabama Alabama alimony laws were recently changed to make permanent alimony more rare and to set a five-year limit on the time period for which courts may order alimony in most cases. There are three types of alimony in Alabama. Interim Support Interim support is a series of temporary payments from one spouse to another while the divorce is pending. These payments could help the lesser earning spouse adjust as their financial situation changes because of the divorce. Maybe one spouse has moved out of their living situation with the other spouse and now needs temporary support to adjust to the additional costs. Interim support payments stop once you finalize your divorce. Courts award interim support based on the petitioning spouse’s need as well as the other spouse’s ability to pay.  Periodic Alimony The other common type of spousal support in Alabama is periodic alimony. The lesser earning spouse receives periodic alimony payments at regular intervals, such as every two weeks or every month. The payments usually last only while the receiving spouse completes some sort of preparation to re-enter the workforce and become self-supporting. For example, if one spouse stopped working to take care of children, they may require periodic alimony while they learn the new skills required to start working again. Courts usually award periodic alimony for a maximum of five years following the divorce. In rare cases, if the judge determines that the circumstances require it, periodic alimony can be awarded for up to the length of time that the couple was married. Permanent Alimony  Permanent alimony in Alabama is rare. Courts typically award permanent alimony only when one spouse is disabled and cannot become financially independent after a divorce. In addition, Alabama courts award permanent alimony only if the marriage lasted more than 20 years. Calculating Alimony in Alabama The judge has discretion in determining the amount of alimony payments, regardless of the type of alimony. While there is no Alabama alimony calculator that will determine the exact amount of alimony you or your spouse will receive, judges consider a number of factors when deciding how much alimony is appropriate. Reason for the Divorce You can still claim fault grounds in a divorce in Alabama. If a couple filed for divorce on fault grounds, this may affect alimony. For example, if your spouse cheated on you, and you can prove that the cheating caused you to want to divorce them, you can file for divorce on the grounds of adultery. An adulterous spouse may receive a smaller alimony award if they are the receiving spouse. A judge may also order an adulterous spouse to pay larger alimony payments. Length of Marriage How many years do you have to be married in the state of Alabama to get alimony? The answer is technically that it does not matter. A court can award alimony regardless of the length of the marriage, as long as the requesting spouse can establish a need. However the longer the marriage was, the more likely it is that one spouse adjusted to the extra financial support of married life and will need assistance while re-adjusting to life after the divorce. As we mentioned, permanent alimony is awarded only in certain situations where the marriage lasted more than 20 years. Dependent Children Depending on the divorce agreement, one spouse may end up with more financial responsibility for raising and caring for children. If a child happens to have special needs, that can also affect that spouse’s ability to hold down a job while caring for the child. A judge can take these circumstances into account in calculating alimony.  Other Factors Judges consider numerous other factors when awarding alimony in Alabama. These factors include: Earning capabilities of each spouse; What assets each spouse has; Age and health of each spouse; and The standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage. This is not an exhaustive list. A judge can consider any other factor that they find relevant when awarding spousal support in Alabama. Contact Our Birmingham, AL Divorce Lawyers Today   Dagney Johnson Law Group is ready to answer any questions you have about Alabama alimony laws. We take a personal approach to every issue, so you can feel confident that your voice will be heard and that we will fight for what is most important to you. Contact us or call our firm at (205) 937-6564 today to discuss alimony and other divorce issues.

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Criminal Defense

Alabama DUI Laws Explained: Offenses and Penalties

In Alabama, as in other states, the penalties for driving under the influence depend on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. Alabama driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI) penalties also differ depending on the type of driver and on the driver’s age.  Our Birmingham, Alabama DUI attorneys will explain. What Is a DUI Under Alabama Law? Alabama DUI laws prohibit a person from driving or being in actual physical control of any vehicle while under the influence. A person is “under the influence,” if they are found to:  Have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more; Be under the influence of alcohol; Be under the influence of a controlled substance to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving;  Be under the combined influence of alcohol and a controlled substance to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving; or  Be under the influence of any substance which impairs the mental or physical faculties of the person to a degree which renders him or incapable of safely driving.  Under this rule, police can use either a BAC level or a reasonable belief of the driver’s impairment to charge the driver with DUI.  Per Se DUI A DUI charge based on a BAC of 0.08 percent, rather than on a determination of impairment, is known as “per se” driving under the influence. A per se DUI charge does not require any additional proof of impairment.  Under 21 Years Old DUI If you are under the age of 21, you can be charged with DUI in Alabama if you have a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher. School Bus & Day Care Drivers  If you are a school bus or day care driver, you can be charged with DUI if you have a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher. Commercial Drivers If you are a commercial vehicle driver, you can be charged with a DUI if you have a BAC of 0.04 or higher.  Actual Physical Control  Under Alabama DUI law, you can be charged with DUI even if you weren’t driving at the time of arrest. Under the statute, driving includes being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle. Actual physical control is defined as “the exclusive power, and present ability, to operate, move, park, or direct a motor vehicle at the moment.” Whether a person is in actual physical control of a vehicle depends on the specific circumstances of the case.  Can You Refuse a Breath Test? Alabama drivers operate under an implied consent law. This law provides that any person who operates a vehicle within state consents to a blood, breath, or urine BAC test, just by operating the vehicle. A driver is required to consent to a BAC test following a lawful DUI arrest. An arrest is valid under this rule if the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to believe the driver is under the influence.  A driver can refuse a specific type of BAC test in favor of another. For example, a driver may refuse a blood test but consent to a breath or urine test. A police officer cannot force a driver to undergo a BAC test unless they have a warrant or other additional authority.  A driver may refuse all forms of testing but, in doing so, risks the consequences. A first refusal results in an automatic 90-day driver license suspension. A second or additional refusal within a five year period will result in a one-year license suspension. Additionally, refusal can be used as evidence in court to suggest the driver’s guilt.  Alabama Penalties for Successive DUIs If you were convicted of DUI in Alabama, the penalties you face depend on the specific facts of your case and your criminal history. Of particular importance is whether you’ve been convicted of DUI in the past. The penalties for DUIs under Alabama law increase with each successive charge.  In Alabama, the time period or “look back period” for successive offenses is 10 years. For example, if you were convicted of a DUI twelve years ago and you were recently charged with a DUI offense, you will likely receive the most lenient penalties.  First DUI The first DUI offense carries the most lenient sentencing consequences. The penalties for a first DUI offense are: Up to one year in jail; Between $600 and $2,100 in fines; or  Both.  Additionally, you will face a 90-day driver license suspension. For more serious cases, a mandatory ignition interlock may be required even if it’s your first offense. An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer installed in an individual’s vehicle. The device prohibits the vehicle from starting unless the driver blows an acceptable BAC.  The court may order an ignition interlock if: You refused to submit to a BAC test after your arrest; Your BAC level was 0.15 percent or higher;  You were involved in a car accident that injured someone else; or You were arrested for a DUI with a child under 14 in the car. Someone convicted of a first DUI offense can agree to the installation of an ignition interlock device instead of the 90-day license suspension.  In addition to jail time, fines, and a potential ignition interlock, a first offense DUI conviction in Alabama requires mandatory probation.  Second DUI  A second DUI conviction carries more significant penalties than a first offense. The court may sentence a second offender to:  A one-year driver license revocation;  Between five days and one year in jail;   Between $1,100 and $5,100 in fines; and  Installation of an ignition interlock for a minimum of two years. For a second DUI offense, the court can order an ignition interlock requirement of up to four years if the offender refused a BAC test or had a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher.  Third DUI A third DUI conviction carries significant potential penalties, including: A three-year driver license revocation;  Between 60 days and one year in jail; Between $2,100 and $10,100...

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Divorce

Abandonment in an Alabama Divorce: What You Should Know

If your spouse has moved out, you may not know how to proceed. A spouse leaving the shared home is emotional and difficult, and a divorce can help you move on. If your spouse left over a year ago, you may be able to file a divorce based on abandonment. In Alabama, abandonment is one of the fault grounds for divorce. Here, we will discuss what you need to know about Alabama divorce laws and marital abandonment. What Is Spousal or Marital Abandonment in Alabama? There are not separate abandonment laws in Alabama. Instead, abandonment is part of the state’s law relating to divorce. In Alabama, you can file a divorce based on fault grounds, or you can file a no-fault divorce. If you file on fault grounds, you are claiming that the marriage failed because of the other spouse’s actions.  One of the fault grounds for divorce is abandonment. According to Alabama law, you can divorce your spouse for their “voluntary abandonment of bed and board” for one year or more as of the time you file for divorce. Your spouse can be considered to have abandoned the marriage if they moved out and you have little to no contact with them. This situation must be voluntary, so you cannot claim abandonment if you kicked your spouse out. The abandonment must also continue for a year or more before you can claim it as grounds for divorce. What Qualifies as Abandonment? When one spouse not only moves out but also stops performing all family obligations and responsibilities, it is considered abandonment. For example, if your spouse has stopped contributing to your household financially or has ceased to perform childcare duties in addition to moving out, this is considered abandonment. When abandonment occurs, the abandoning spouse has no intention of returning. There are no continued marital relations, including companionship and sexual relations, in an abandonment. You will also have to present evidence that your spouse left with the intent to end the marriage. Alabama divorce laws about abandonment require more than just the fact that a couple lives apart. If one spouse refuses to relocate due to the other spouse’s job, that is not abandonment. In addition, if one spouse flees from an abusive partner, that is also not abandonment. How Does Abandonment Affect My Divorce? If you are filing an abandonment divorce, it can impact other issues in your divorce. Alabama law protects some abandoned spouse rights. For example, if one spouse abandons the other and stops contributing financially, a court may award the abandoned spouse an increased alimony award to make up for the lack of financial assistance. In addition, if your spouse has stopped caring for your children, the court may be more likely to award you sole custody. Child custody, however, is always based on what is best for the children. Not all abandoned spouses get full custody.  One of the most significant impacts of abandonment on your divorce is that you may struggle to negotiate any terms with your spouse. Couples often agree on many aspects of property division, child visitation, and other divorce issues. When one spouse abandons the other, there may be no opportunity to discuss these things until a claim has been filed and the court is involved. Contact Our Birmingham, Alabama Divorce Lawyers If you want to learn more about Alabama divorce laws and abandonment claims, contact our law office today at (205) 937-6564. At the Dagney Johnson Law Group, our Birmingham divorce attorneys are ready to discuss the details of your case. Our personal style of representation will help you move forward during this confusing time while making sure you are comfortable with every step of the process.

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Child Custody

A Brief Guide to Alabama Child Custody Laws

Whether you are looking to file for divorce or break off a non-marital relationship, things can get complicated and emotional when there are kids involved. In Alabama, family courts will do their best to keep both parents as involved in their kid’s lives as possible, but the ultimate deciding factor is what is best for the child. Before you begin the legal process, it is a good idea to have an idea of how a judge can divide custody and parental rights, and what factors they consider before issuing a child custody order. In Alabama, Joint Custody is Preferred As stated above, Alabama courts primarily prefer that both parents share the rights and responsibilities of raising their child and approach each custody situation with that in mind. State policy encourages that children have frequent and meaningful contact with both parents, especially when the children are still younger. As long as each parent shows that they are able to handle parental responsibilities, this is the preferred approach to a legal custody arrangement. Of course, one parent may be granted all custody rights under necessary circumstances. Physical Custody v. Legal Custody Parental rights are divided into two basic groups: the right to physical custody of the child, and legal custody. With the first category, it is important to note that joint physical custody does not mean 50/50 possession. School and work schedules, holidays, and geographic distance often makes equal custody unfeasible, so one parent will receive primary physical custody.  Legal custody refers to the set of rights and responsibilities that come with parenthood such as educational, medical, religious, and moral decisions. If joint custody granted, each parent possesses equal rights in legal custody decisions. Factors That Courts Consider When Making Custody Decisions Physical possession is rarely (if ever) divided 50/50 by a family court in Alabama. Instead, the judge takes a number of factors into account to determine what schedule would be in the best interest of the child. These factors include: Gender and age of each child. Alabama is one of the few states that still considers gender an important consideration, most others no longer do this. The particular characteristics and needs of the child, including emotional, social, moral, material, and educational needs. Each parent’s capacity of and interest in providing for those needs. The home environment of each parent. Current living arrangements and whether a change would be unnecessarily disruptive to the child. The age, living stability, character, physical health, and mental health of each parent. The interpersonal relationship between each parent and each child. The child’s preference, if they are mature enough to express one. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Contentious custody battles may require reports or recommendations from expert witnesses, such as social workers or child psychologists. If one parent has a criminal record, a history of domestic violence, a history of drug or alcohol abuse, a court may be more inclined to severely limit one parent’s custody. For example, they may award one parent sole physical custody and the other visitation rights. All of the relevant facts in the case are weighed holistically with the best interest of the child as the ultimate goal. Can I Change a Custody Order? Yes. Custody modification can happen, if there is a change in one or both parent’s circumstances. Essentially, the parent looking to modify an order needs to be able to show a material change in circumstances regarding the child, and must also be able to show that modifying custody would promote the child’s best interests. Custody Orders and Relocation One of the most common modification situations is when the parents with primary physical custody wants to relocate. If the move is not geographically significant, this is usually not a problem as long as proper notice is given. But if the relocation is more than 60 miles, the relocating parent must provide notice to the other at least 45 days ahead of time, with the non-relocating parent then having 30 days to file an objection with the court. For those moving to Alabama, the state has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (often shortened to UCCJEA). It dictates that each state must honor and enforce child custody determinations made by courts in other states. For example, a valid custody order issued by a Texas court can be enforced by an Alabama family judge with no need to obtain an entirely new custody agreement. Do I Need an Attorney When Facing a Child Custody Issue? Child custody cases can be stressful and emotional legal matters that have an impact on families for years to come. Seeking the services of an Alabama family law attorney is the best way to ensure that your rights are represented, whether you are looking to establish a custody agreement or modify a current custody order. At Dagney Johnson Law Group, we are a small family firm that has represented Alabamians for over 40 years. Located in Birmingham, we want our clients to feel comfortable and cared for throughout the legal process. Call us at (205) 937-6564, or fill out our online contact form to set up a consultation.  The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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Child Custody

Alabama Child Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents

When a couple decides to end their relationship, they have to deal with very personal issues on a legal level. If they have children, the important decisions concern custody, visitation, and financial support. These issues apply to unmarried couples as much as they do to divorcing couples, and the decision making process is much the same. So how does the state of Alabama award custody to unmarried parents, and what guidelines do they use? The Basics of Alabama Custody Law When awarding custody to unmarried parents, the legal standard that drives decision making is what is in the “best interest of the child.” Alabama family law puts emphasis on allowing both parents to share the rights and responsibilities of raising their children and maintain a nurturing relationship, no matter what their marital status is. This means that courts are more likely to award joint custody. However, this doesn’t always mean that each parent gets equal physical custody of the children. School schedules and other circumstances often mean that one parent is the primary caretaker and will be awarded a larger percentage of physical custody. Custody Considerations and Factors In Alabama, child custody may either be granted to unmarried parents jointly, or to one parent solely.  Because Alabama law assumes that joint custody is in the best interests of the children, a judge will consider joint custody in every case. In rarer cases, circumstances may dictate that only one parent should have the custody, based on a number of factors. These include: The gender and age of the child The safety and well-being of the child The child’s emotional, moral, material, and educational needs, and each parent’s ability to meet those needs Parental characteristics including age, stability, and mental/physical health The relationship between each parent and the child, and the level of cooperation between the parents If the child is of sufficient age and maturity, their stated custody preference This is by no means an exhaustive list, but are amongst the most commonly considered factors a family court looks at when deciding the custody situation between unmarried parents. Can a Court Order Sole Custody? Under the right circumstances, yes. Sole legal custody is when one parent has exclusive rights and responsibilities to make major decisions concerning the child, and sole physical custody is when a child lives exclusively with one parent. A judge may award visitation rights to the other parent. If one parent has a history of substance abuse, trouble with the law, domestic violence, or an unstable living situation, a judge is far more likely to award sole custody. Do I Need an Attorney if I’m an Unmarried Parent Dealing with a Custody Issue? Child custody matters can be stressful, and unmarried parents may face extra complications. Seeking the services of an Alabama family law attorney is the best way to ensure that your rights are represented, whether you are looking to establish a custody agreement or modify a current custody order. At Dagney Johnson Law Group, we are a small firm family that has represented Alabamans for over 40 years. Located in Birmingham,  we want our clients to feel comfortable and cared for throughout the legal process. Call our firm at (205) 937-6564, or contact us online to set up a consultation.  The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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Criminal Defense

Alabama Criminal Punishment Guidelines: Sentences & Fines

Every state has its own set of laws that define what acts and omissions constitute criminal offenses, and Alabama is no different. This is done via a number of statutes that are consolidated into Title 13A of the Alabama Code, often referred to simply as the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code defines the crimes and lays out the potential punishments for each offense. Whether you’re charged with a felony, misdemeanor, or a violation, it is always a good idea to talk to a lawyer. Crime Classification: The Three Categories Alabama’s criminal code categorizes illegal behavior into three different categories by severity of both action and possible punishment. The three categories ranked from least to most serious are: violations, misdemeanors, and felonies. Violations in Alabama Violations are the least severe of the three criminal classifications in Alabama. Any potential jail sentences are limited to a maximum of 30 days in county jail, as opposed to state prison. Examples of violations include such things as traffic tickets. Usually someone charged with a violation receives a fine of under $200.00.  When it comes to violations, most people assume it is easier to plead guilty to a violation charge and then just pay the fine. But be careful. If it’s a traffic ticket, a guilty plea goes against your driving record. Misdemeanor Offenses in Alabama These are considered less serious than felonies, and thus are punished less severely. Misdemeanor charges are classified into three classes by severity. It is important to note that misdemeanors have an AND/OR distinction when it comes to punishment. That means a conviction could carry prison time, a fine, or both. Class A – Examples of Class A misdemeanors include possession of marijuana for personal use and theft of goods under $500. Punishment range is up one year in prison and/or $6,000 fines. Class B –  Examples include resisting arrest and tampering with witnesses. The punishment range for this class is up to six months in prison and/or $3,000 in fines. Class C – The punishment range for this class is up to three months in prison and/or $500 in fines. Common Class C misdemeanors include trespassing, harassment, and disorderly conduct.  When you’re convicted of a misdemeanor in Alabama, there are some circumstances where you may be able to avoid prison time. You may be eligible for a community corrections program or for drug court. In addition, if you have no other criminal history (especially a violent criminal history) a judge may suspend part of your sentence and place you on probation, as long as you obey certain guidelines.  Felony Offenses in Alabama The most serious type of crime in Alabama is a felony. Felonies are crimes that can potentially carry a sentence of more than a year in state prison or death. There are four different classes of felonies, from the most serious Class A offenses to the least serious Class D offenses. Class D is a new felony class that went into effect on January 30, 2016. Class A – The most serious level of crime in the state, punishable by life in prison or a term of 10 to 99 years. Examples of Class A felonies include first-degree rape (sex by force, with an incapacitated victim, or a child under age 12), first-degree domestic violence, and of course, murder. There are 19 situatuations where a convicted murder may receive the death penalty, also known as capital punishment. Class B – Statutory sentencing guidelines range from two to 20 years in prison. Examples include first-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault, and second-degree (statutory) rape.  Class C – The standard sentence for a Class C felony is a term between 366 days and 10 years. They include: breaking and entering, robbery with actual or threatened force, and child custody interference. Class D – This felony can carry a sentence of 366 days to five years in prison. Credit card fraud and possession of a controlled substance are a few that fall into this new category.  Where the convicted person’s sentence falls in the statutory range depends on the circumstances surrounding the offense and the perpetrator’s criminal history. To help ensure fair and effective sentencing, the state established the Alabama Sentencing Commission in 2000. A felony can also have fines attached. The Criminal Code’s guidelines are:  For a Class A felony, not more than $60,000; For a Class B felony, not more than $30,000; For a Class C felony, not more than $15,000; For a Class D felony, not more than $7,500 Talk to a Birmingham Attorney About Your Legal Issue Today Have you been arrested for or charged with a crime in Alabama? The consequences of a conviction could be severe and change your life forever. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. At Dagney Johnson Law Group, we are a small family firm that has represented Alabamians for over 40 years. Located in Birmingham, we want our clients to feel comfortable and cared for throughout the legal process. Give us a call at (205) 937-6564, or submit our contact form to set up a consultation. 

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Criminal Defense

Expunging a Criminal Record in Alabama: Everything You Need to Know

If you are arrested and charged with a crime in Alabama, you may be afraid of the long term impact the charge will have on your life. You may not be able to apply for an occupational license and generally find it difficult to get steady employment. Like most other states, Alabama has a law that allows people to eliminate certain criminal arrests and charges from their permanent record through a process known as expungement. Here are the laws governing criminal expungement in Alabama, who qualifies, and what to do if you think you are eligible. What is Expungement? Expungement is the legal process through which a person can remove a criminal arrest, charge and prosecution from their permanent Alabama criminal record. Once approved by a judge, the criminal proceedings are treated as if they never happened. If they are asked about the charge they have no legal duty to disclose that the incident ever happened, with the exception of a few rare circumstances. Any court, clerk, or state agency is required to respond that any record does not exist if they are asked, except in limited circumstances. The person does, however, must still disclose the record to government regulatory agencies, licensing agencies, utility agents and affiliates, and banks and other financial institutions. What Types of Cases Qualify for Expungement? It is important to note that criminal convictions are NOT eligible for expungement. Under current Alabama law, only these cases are eligible: Acquittal after a trial Case no-billed by a Grand Jury (not enough evidence for indictment) Dismissal after completion of drug court or other diversion program Charges are dismissed (with or without prejudice)  Legally, a case that is dismissed without prejudice may be refiled at a later date, because no double jeopardy has attached. Because of this, the law requires that the case was dismissed at least two years prior to filing for expungement, that the case has not been refiled, and that the person has not been convicted of any other crime (excluding minor traffic violations) in the past two years. For charges dismissed WITH prejudice for a felony, the person must wait 90 days before filing. What Crimes Qualify for Expungement? In Alabama, a person can file for expungement to remove non-violent felonies, misdemeanors, violations, traffic violations, or municipal ordinance violations from their record. Prior to 2017, no violent felony charges could be expunged, but an amendment has changed this. Some violent felonies may be eligible for expungement now if the person was found “not guilty” at a bench or jury trial.  How Do I Start the Expungement Process? An expungement does not happen automatically, so being proactive is the key. Seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney who has experience with the expungement process, and they can guide you through the process. First, you and your attorney will fill out and file a petition for expungement in the proper court. It doesn’t matter in what court specifically your original case was based (municipal, traffic court, etc.), all expungements must be approved by a judge in the circuit criminal court where the original case was heard. Having an attorney’s expertise on this can help you avoid paying unnecessary fees by having to file and refile your petition in the right court.  Will I Need to Go to Court? Maybe. After your petition is filed, the prosecutor’s office has a certain number of days to file an objection to the expungement. If they do, you may need to schedule a hearing with a judge. They will ask both sides questions about the circumstances surrounding your case, and then issue a ruling based on the expungement factors set forth by Alabama law. What are the Expungement Factors in Alabama? From Alabama Code § 15-27-5: Nature and seriousness of the offense committed Circumstances under which the offense occurred Date of the offense Age of the person when the offense was committed Whether the offense was an isolated or repeated incident Other conditions which may have contributed to the offense (economic hardship, personal stressors, etc.) An available probation or parole record, report, or recommendation Whether the offense was dismissed or nolle prossed as part of a negotiated plea agreement and the petitioner plead guilty to another related or lesser offense Evidence of rehabilitation, including good conduct in prison or jail, in the community, counseling or psychiatric treatment received, acquisition of additional academic or vocational schooling, successful business or employment history, and the recommendation of his or her supervisors or other persons in the community. Any other matter the court deems relevant, which may include, but is not limited to, a prior expungement of the petitioner’s record The court is not limited strictly to the listed factors above, and can consider anything they deem relevant that could positively or negatively affect whether expungement is the right choice. This is why having an attorney to assist you is vital, not just in drawing up the petition but also bringing the court’s attention to other positive evidence and information that could encourage your expungement being approved.  Talk to a Birmingham Attorney About Expungement Today Are you looking to move past an arrest or criminal charge that is negatively affecting your career or another aspect of your life? An expungement can help give you a clean slate and allow you to move forward without anxiety. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. At Dagney Johnson Law Group, we are a small family firm that has represented Alabamians for over 40 years. Located in Birmingham, we want our clients to feel comfortable and cared for throughout the legal process. Call us at (205) 937-6564, or send us an online message to schedule a consultation.  The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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Firm News

Federal Court Orders Monitoring to Improve Mental Health Care in Alabama Prisons

On Wednesday, September 2nd (9/2/20), a federal order was issued by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson to monitor the Alabama Department of Corrections’ (ADOC) mental health services for inmates. Despite previous intervention and court monitoring efforts, ADOC has failed to provide adequate mental health care for the incarcerated. The adopted monitoring plan is designed to address the serious issues within the prison system and ensure long-term compliance. Our team at Dagney Johnson Law Group are working alongside the SPLC, ADAP, and Baker Donelson to litigate the claim in an effort to provide Alabama inmates with the constitutional care and treatment they deserve. Featured Story: Southern Poverty Law Center

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Child Custody

What Is an Uncontested Divorce in Alabama?

If you are in the process of planning for a divorce, it is important to know what types of divorce exist.  Depending on what type of divorce yours is, the process will be different. A divorce can be either contested or uncontested. A “contested” divorce, as the name suggests, means that the spouses contest the terms of the divorce. But what are “uncontested” divorces in Alabama? This article will provide a brief overview of uncontested divorce in Alabama, giving you a better idea of what to expect. If you have questions, contact an Alabama divorce attorney to discuss your options and determine how you should move forward. Uncontested Divorce in Alabama: An Overview An uncontested divorce in Alabama is also called a simple divorce. Whereas a contested divorce can be complicated and contentious, an uncontested divorce is often a more simplified process. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on all issues required to terminate the marriage. Ultimately, this makes the divorce faster and cheaper than a contested divorce. Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in Alabama In an uncontested divorce, both parties must agree on all aspects of the divorce. This means that not only do the parties need to agree to the termination of the marriage itself, but they must also agree on items such as: Division of property and assets, Division of debt, Child custody arrangements, and Alimony. If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on these issues without court intervention, then you cannot proceed with an uncontested divorce. There are a few additional requirements for uncontested divorces in Alabama that you should be aware of. First, at least one party to the divorce must have been a resident of Alabama for at least six months prior to filing. Additionally, you must file your divorce in the correct county. In Alabama, you must file for divorce in the county in which: Your spouse lives; You both lived when the separation occurred; or You live, if your spouse is not a resident of Alabama. Even if your divorce is uncontested, failure to file in the appropriate county can complicate the process moving forward. Alabama Uncontested Divorce Forms The first step to filing for uncontested divorce in Alabama is completing your formal court complaint. While this can seem intimidating, the State of Alabama fortunately provides “do it yourself” forms on its website. One of these includes a divorce complaint. While you can complete this form on your own, it is always beneficial to have an attorney review it and ensure that you don’t miss anything important.  Contact a Divorce Attorney Today If you have questions about how to file your uncontested divorce complaint, or if you have any other questions about uncontested divorce in Alabama, contact an attorney today. An experienced Alabama divorce attorney can help to make a stressful and emotional process feel more manageable. The legal team at Dagney Johnson Law Group has been helping clients in Alabama through the most difficult times in their lives for over 40 years. We hope to have the opportunity to help you too. Contact us online or by phone at (205) 937-6564 for a free case review to see what we can do for you.

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Divorce

What Is the Alabama Divorce Process?

About 40 to 50 percent of marriages in the United States will end in divorce. While this is of course not what people hope for when they get married, it is a reality that many couples do face. A divorce can often be a complicated and emotional process. However, having an experienced divorce attorney in your corner can be a great asset in helping you get through this difficult time. If you are considering filing for divorce, we want to help. Read on for an overview of the Alabama divorce process so that you can better protect your rights and prepare for this next phase of your life. Divorce vs. Legal Separation in Alabama Before diving in, it is important to understand the difference between a divorce and a legal separation. While people often use these terms interchangeably, they actually describe two separate processes. Legal separation in Alabama is defined as a “court determination of the rights and responsibilities of a husband and wife arising out of the marital relationship.” Notably, a legal separation does not terminate the marital status of the parties. A divorce, on the other hand, does terminate the marital status of the parties. Thus, after a divorce, you and your spouse will no longer be married. Steps in the Alabama Divorce Process In this article, we will be discussing the divorce process in particular. While the Alabama divorce process can sometimes be complicated, knowing the basic steps can help. File Your Complaint and Wait for Your Spouse to File Their Answer The first step in the Alabama divorce process is filing your divorce complaint. This complaint announces your intent to terminate the marriage and is necessary before taking any further action. After you file the complaint with the court, you must also serve the complaint on your spouse. This formally notifies them that you have initiated a divorce action to seek termination of your marriage. Discovery, Negotiations, and Trial In some situations, a divorce will be uncontested. This means that both spouses agree on all issues, which allows the judge to easily finalize the divorce. In other situations, however, the process is less simple. In a contested divorce, parties will often disagree on things such as property division, child custody, and child support. When this happens, you may need to proceed with discovery. Types of discovery tools in a divorce proceeding include: Interrogatories, Requests for production of documents, Requests for admissions, Subpoena of documents, and Depositions. All of these discovery tools can help compile useful documentation and information to help support your position in a divorce. Once you have this information, you can then begin negotiating a potential divorce agreement. Having an experienced divorce attorney can become a great benefit. An attorney can help you negotiate and review any potential agreements and fight to ensure that your divorce does not result in an unfair outcome. Then, if the parties cannot reach an agreement, an attorney can help you prepare to take your divorce to trial. Contact a Divorce Attorney Today While you don’t always need an attorney to help with your divorce, having one can frequently make the process easier. More than that, an attorney can help protect your rights and ensure that your divorce ends in a fair and equitable resolution. If you are in the process of going through a divorce, or if you have questions about how to get started, Dagney Johnson Law Group is standing by and ready to assist. Our team of legal professionals has been helping clients in Alabama for over 40 years, and we want to do the same for you. We know that going through a divorce can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. Contact us online or by phone at (205) 937-6564 today to discuss your case and see what we can do for you.

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