There are generally two types of divorce available in most states: contested and uncontested. A divorce is “contested” when you and your spouse can’t agree on some or all of the issues involved in ending your marriage. Unless you manage to work out your disagreements along the way, you’ll have to go to court to have a judge hold a trial, examine the evidence, call witnesses, and resolve the issues for you. In contrast, there’s no need for a trial when you have an uncontested divorce, because you and your spouse have worked out the issues between yourselves. And if you can reach that agreement before you file your divorce papers, an uncontested divorce will be much cheaper than a traditional, contested divorce. That’s because you can avoid lengthy and expensive legal battles over every disagreement.
Here are the steps involved in obtaining an uncontested divorce in Alabama:
Meet the Residency Requirements: If both spouses are residents of Alabama, a divorce can be filed at any time. If only the person filing for the divorce (the plaintiff) is a resident of Alabama and the other spouse (the defendant) lives in another state, the plaintiff must have been a resident of Alabama for at least 6 months immediately before filing for the divorce; or
If only the defendant is a resident of Alabama but the person filing for divorce (the plaintiff) lives in another state, a divorce can be filed at any time.
Prepare the Divorce Papers: Under Alabama law, the spouse filing the divorce papers is called the “Plaintiff” and the spouse responding to the papers is the “Defendant.” Divorce in Alabama begins with the following documents, which can be found at your county clerk’s office: “Complaint” and “Summons”. These documents are the initial divorce papers and formally request a divorce from the state court. They will outline the nitty-gritty of the divorce you’re requesting: terms surrounding who gets what, spousal support, and what will happen to any children.
Reach an Agreement: You can only file for an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse agree to every aspect of your divorce. If you’re stuck on a few major issues, you can work with a divorce mediator to explore your options and find compromises. You’ll use this information to create your settlement agreement.
File the Agreement: At least one of you will fill out the court paperwork for a divorce, and you can fill the paperwork out online.
Documents Are Served: The spouse that filed the petition for divorce will serve the other spouse the paperwork. If you’re filing for an uncontested divorce, your spouse is already involved in the process with you. They know the paperwork is coming and are aware of what it says, so you don’t need to use a process server. You can serve the divorce forms to your spouse yourself.
Attend a Final Hearing if required: After you’ve filed your documents and completed your preliminary declaration of disclosure, you may be required to attend a quick court hearing. The judge will ask you to verify that the information provided in all the documents is accurate. If the judge doesn’t spot any causes for concerns, you’ll be granted a judgment of divorce.
Finalize the Divorce: If all of your papers are in order, you have to wait at least 30 days after filing for an uncontested divorce before the judge will sign your final divorce judgment. But it usually takes a while longer (two months or so) before the judge reviews your paperwork and signs the judgment.
Overall, understanding the legal process of an uncontested divorce in Alabama is essential if you are considering filing for one. It is important to remember that while this type of divorce may be simpler than other types of divorces, an uncontested divorce lawyer can help. This type of divorce still requires careful consideration and preparation in order to ensure that all matters related to your case are handled properly and efficiently.