A divorce is one of the most life-altering events anyone can experience. The legal decisions you need to make can feel overwhelming. Unfortunately, that can lead some people to act out of spite. Those rash decisions can negatively impact your case and your relationship with your children. Don’t let divorce get the best of you.
Contact a Birmingham divorce attorney instead.
At Dagney Johnson Law Group, our legal team is here to help. With our expertise and objective eye, we can protect your rights and help you fight for the best outcome possible.
Alabama Divorce Laws
Before you can file for divorce in Alabama, you have to meet the residency requirements. One of you must have been a resident of Alabama for at least six months before you file a petition for divorce.
To begin a divorce, you must file the complaint in the correct venue and jurisdiction. There are specific requirements on where you need to file the complaint for divorce. First, you can file in the county where the non-filing spouse lives. Second, you can file in the circuit court where you lived prior to the separation. Or, third, you can file in the county where you reside if your ex is a nonresident. If the divorce is uncontested, you can file in the county of your choosing.
Once you serve the defendant with the complaint for divorce, they have 30 days to respond. After they respond, your divorce lawyer will help you to reach an agreement on all outstanding issues. These issues typically include property division, child custody, child support, and alimony.
An uncontested divorce is one where both spouses come to an agreement on all issues and want the judge to finalize their agreement. If the couple cannot agree on even one issue, they must proceed with a contested divorce. Even in uncontested divorces, speaking with a Birmingham divorce lawyer is recommended. We can look over your intended agreement and let you know if there is anything that is concerning or unfair.
We can also help you understand the specific laws that apply to property division, support, and child custody. This will help you know what to expect as you negotiate an agreement or prepare for trial.
Is Alabama a No-Fault Divorce State?
Yes, you can obtain a no-fault divorce in Alabama. That means you are not required to prove that your ex-spouse was at fault for your marriage ending. All you need to do is to file on the ground that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
When you file a no-fault divorce, you may be able to finalize things more quickly. You can move on to the next phase of the legal process where both sides gather documentation and work toward making decisions on custody, support, and asset distribution.
Grounds for Divorce in Alabama
If you do plan to proceed with a divorce on fault grounds, there are multiple options you can use. Under Alabama law, you can file for an at-fault divorce based on the following grounds:
- You are a victim of domestic violence;
- Your spouse committed a crime against nature before or after marriage;
- Your spouse cheated on you (adultery);
- Your spouse developed an addiction to alcohol or drugs during your marriage;
- Your spouse voluntarily abandoned you for more than one year before you filed for divorce;
- Your spouse has been institutionalized for at least five consecutive years, and medical health professionals deemed them incurably insane;
- Your spouse was physically and incurably incapacitated from entering into a marriage at the time your marriage was performed;
- Your spouse has been in prison for the last two years before filing and is serving a sentence that is more than seven years;.
- You are the wife and have lived separately and apart from your husband without any support for at least two years; or
- You are the husband, and your wife was pregnant at the time of your marriage without your knowledge.
You might be wondering why someone would file for an at-fault divorce when it would be easier to move forward with a no-fault one. People who pursue a divorce based on specific grounds may be entitled to a larger share of the estate or increase their chances of winning sole custody. For example, if you can prove your spouse spent significant marital assets on another romantic partner, the judge may award a higher share of the estate to you.
However, pursuing a divorce based on fault could end up hurting your position. The judge can consider both spouses’ misconduct when deciding property division. You can expect your spouse’s attorney to look for any ammunition if it helps their client retain more of the marital assets.
What Is Needed During the Divorce Process?
If you know your spouse plans to file for divorce, start gathering documents now. It’s important to get copies of financial records, loan documents, car registrations, and anything else that could be considered marital property. While it doesn’t happen in every divorce, some people may try to start hiding or liquidating assets prior to a divorce. That is their way of trying to keep their partner from getting their fair share. Judges won’t look favorably on people who try to hide assets and lie to the court.
Maybe you own a business with your partner, have rare collectibles or antiques, or own property out of state. Asset division is often the most complex part of a divorce, especially when there are hard-to-value items or significant assets. In these situations, it may be necessary to call in an expert who can provide a valuation. You’ll want all available records and information to help with the valuation.
As your divorce progresses, your Birmingham divorce attorney will keep you in the loop on everything you can expect going forward. You may have to attend some in-person meetings, and you will have to face your ex at some point as well. You might also be ordered to attend mediation in the hope of resolving your remaining issues. Family courts prefer to resolve things as quickly as possible and not put families through an emotional trial if possible.
The timeframe to resolve your divorce can be very quick in some cases. Alabama allows divorces to be finalized within 30 days if everything is settled. With a contested divorce, it may take much longer to resolve, depending on the remaining issues.
How Can a Divorce Lawyer Help?
Your attorney can be an invaluable source of strength during your divorce. They can help keep you grounded and make sure you remain objective when meeting with your ex. If your divorce is complex or there are many disputed factors, your attorney will help gather the necessary documentation and hire experts.
They will walk you through every step of your divorce proceeding, so there are no surprises. Some people think hiring a lawyer means your divorce will be delayed with the purpose of running up billable hours. But a good family attorney wants to resolve your case as quickly and amicably as possible. An attorney can help streamline meetings and hearings, so your divorce resolves faster and more favorably toward you.
Contact a Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Today
If you are searching for divorce attorneys in Birmingham, Alabama, contact the legal team at Dagney Johnson Law Group. Let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you and help you prepare for the next phase in your life.