Divorce, no matter how amicable, is almost always painful.
However, there are two main types of divorce that can be obtained in Alabama, one of which tends to be far less painful than the other. The more challenging option is called a “contested divorce,” and the alternative is known as an “uncontested divorce.” The difference between the two boils down to whether or not the parties involved in the divorce are able to come to an agreement regarding the various relevant terms of the dissolution such as child custody and the division of assets and debts.
When a divorce is contested, the parties disagree on one or more aspects of the divorce terms, and it oftentimes becomes necessary to hold a trial and have a judge rule on the disputed terms. This type of divorce is known to be quite lengthy because both parties are required to appear in court (often having to settle on inconvenient times for hearings due to a crowded court docket), witnesses will be called, other evidence will be presented, and the judge will take time to assess each situation thoroughly before issuing a verdict. An uncontested divorce tends to be much more streamlined because it essentially means that the spouses have found common ground in their decision to divorce, agreeing to terms on all of the relevant factors that must be decided in order to separate to legally intertwined lives. Generally speaking, this process is much faster and considerably less expensive than an uncontested divorce because no trial is necessary.
In order to be eligible for an uncontested divorce in Alabama, the following requirements must be met: both parties must agree on all issues and terms of the settlement, be willing to sign all necessary paperwork, and one party must have been a resident of Alabama for at least 6 months prior to filing for the divorce.
Couples will begin the paperwork process by filing a “complaint,” which essentially is a document explaining to the court on what grounds you are seeking a divorce and basic information about you and your spouse. Secondly, if you have children together under the age of 19, you must fill out a document describing the agreed upon custody arrangements. Child support requirements will normally automatically adhere to Alabama support guidelines, and as such will not need to be negotiated. Keep in mind, the specific paperwork required for an uncontested divorce may vary from county to county.
Once all of your paperwork is in order, there will be a 30 day waiting period before the judge will sign the divorce decree. It is important to note that divorces that take place amongst families with children take a tremendous emotional toll. So, if divorce truly is the best option for all involved, the faster it can be resolved, the better. Once your decree is signed, your divorce is finalized.
While it is possible to get an uncontested divorce without the assistance of an attorney, it is still wise to consult with a lawyer to ensure your paperwork is properly completed and that you are in compliance with all necessary requirements. If you make mistakes on your paperwork, you could significantly prolong the process. Additionally, sometimes it will take significant negotiations to achieve a settlement upon which each spouse can agree. If you are considering getting divorced and you believe an uncontested divorce is right for you, please contact Attorney John M. Totten today to discuss your options.