Uncontested Divorce in Alabama
Couples living in this state are allowed to apply for a contested or uncontested divorce. The main differences between these options are outlined below:
- If spouses fail to arrive at a fair resolution regarding divorce-related issues, such as child custody, spousal support, division of marital assets, etc., they can only end their marriage through a contested divorce. This type of divorce process requires a vast amount of time and money, as a variety of issues should be resolved in open court.
- When divorcing partners manage to come to an agreement about marriage termination terms, the court offers them the opportunity of filing forms for an uncontested divorce. Currently, it is considered the simplest and most affordable way to dissolve a marriage legally and begin a new chapter of life.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
Preparation of divorce forms is one of the most important steps of any marriage dissolution process, as it defines the length and complexity of the whole divorce procedure. Couples with poor knowledge of family law can prepare appropriate divorce documents with the help of DivorceOnline.
The process is started by completing a questionnaire, after which we will assist with selecting and filling out the divorce papers. In a matter of two business days, our clients can download completed divorce forms that comply with local requirements and laws. In addition to ready-to-sign divorce papers, our customers also receive written instructions on how to file.
Currently, Alabama courts may require divorce forms, such as:
Form PS-08: Divorce Complaint
Form PS-09: Plaintiff's Testimony
Form PS-10: Request for Divorce Judgment by Default
Form PS-21: Answer to Divorce Complaint
Keep in mind that DivorceOnline does not provide legal advice. If the couple files for a contested divorce, they will have to hire a lawyer to ensure a fair outcome that aligns with each party's best interests and state law.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Alabama
Under Alabama law, each resident of Alabama should follow several steps to initiate a divorce process in the state.
Local residency requirements to initiate the divorce case are as follows:
- If only the plaintiff (spouse initiating the case) is a resident of Alabama, they must have been a resident of the state for a minimum of six months.
- If the defendant (non-filing spouse) or both spouses reside in Alabama, a divorce can be filed at any time.
In Alabama, couples can file for divorce based on no-fault or fault-based grounds.
A no-fault divorce can be granted if parties allege one of two reasons as a cause for the dissolution of marriage:
- physical inability to have sexual intercourse
- abandonment (for at least one year before filing for divorce)
- imprisonment (for two years, when the sentence is seven years or longer)
- deviant sexual behavior
- substance abuse
- marital incompatibility
- incurable insanity (the spouse have been confined in a mental hospital for a period of five successive years)
- the wife's pregnancy from another man
- domestic violence
- the wife has lived separate and apart from the husband without any financial support for at least two years
To file for divorce, residents of Alabama should submit all the required forms to the local court in the county where at least one of the spouses lives.
Alabama divorce papers
Each case is unique, which is why required divorce paperwork might differ from one couple to another. At the same time, basic documents needed for all divorcing partners in Alabama are:
- Divorce Complaint, and
If people represent themselves in court without the help of an attorney, they will need to contact the local county clerk and ask about the additional required divorce papers. Otherwise, if some of the divorce forms are not submitted or contain errors, the whole case will most likely be dismissed.
In Alabama, the cost of filing for divorce varies by county. Most often, the mandatory court filing fee ranges between $200 and $300. This payment is needed in order to process submitted divorce papers and initiate the divorce process in the state. The refusal of divorcing spouses to pay filing fees without a reasonable cause can result in case dismissal.
Once the plaintiff (the person who initiates the marriage dissolution proceeding) files divorce paperwork, a 30-day waiting period begins.
Each spouse initiating divorce should notify their partner that legal action is being taken against them. Today, it can be done in one of two ways listed below.
- By Mail
People applying for an uncontested divorce will probably not need to attend a court hearing before the judge issues the final divorce decree. However, if the couple has minor children, they will likely be invited to a short hearing to discuss child-related issues.
Getting a Divorce With Children
When it comes to child custody, the judge always acts in the child's best interest regardless of the type of divorce.
The court may give custody to either the father or mother. The main factors affecting this decision are:
- The sex and age of the child
- Child's preferences
- Psychological, social, material, and educational needs of the child
- The financial status of each party
- Mental and physical health of each party
- The interpersonal relationship between the child and each parent
Typically, family law favors joint physical custody over sole custody, although the second option can become the preferred outcome if one of the parents is predicted to violate the child’s safety.
Apart from this, Alabama has a specific provision in the custody law that applies to all divorcing couples. If the husband has been abandoned by his wife, the primary custody will be awarded to him once the kid turns seven. The court usually justifies this law by stating that the husband is the most "suitable person" to take care of the child on a regular basis.
Local child custody laws also pay a vast amount of attention to the history of abuse and domestic violence in divorcing families. If one of spouses manages to prove at least one episode of violent or aggressive behavior from the perspective of the other spouses within the home, child custody is unlikely to be divided between both partners equally. The thing is, domestic violence is considered as a significant threat to the physical and emotional well-being of minor children in Alabama, which is why the court typically minimizes any interactions between children and aggressors.
When it comes to Alabama child support guidelines, local courts follow the "Income Shares Model." Simply put, child support is calculated as the total amount that a typical two-parent family should spend on their children. Then, these costs are divided between parents proportionately based on their financial status.
Filing for Divorce in Alabama Without a Lawyer
The divorce process does not require the involvement of a lawyer, even though some couples still hire representatives of law to get legal advice. When it comes to contested cases, the decision to hire a divorce lawyer is justified, as divorcing couples need their interests to be protected in court. However, the primary benefit of an uncontested divorce is that it can be processed with limited legal advice or without an attorney at all. As a result, both spouses can save a lot of time and money.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Alabama
- A DIY divorce is way cheaper than a traditional one, as people have the opportunity to avoid costly lawyer's service. For example, the average cost of attorney's services is around $300 per hour in Alabama. As a result, the total cost of the whole divorce process can reach up to several thousand dollars. Alternatively, residents of this state can use DivorceOnline services and save a vast amount of money on divorce papers preparation.
- Apart from this, DIY divorce is known as the fastest way to end a marriage. Lawyers usually need at least one week to prepare divorce forms, whereas divorcing partners can generate and download appropriate papers with the help of DivorceOnline in only two business days.
Frequently Asked Questions:
On average, uncontested divorce takes around 6-10 weeks in the state. In contrast, a contested divorce might take several months or years, depending on the complexity of the case.
As of 2021, filing fees vary around $200-300 in the state, although that amount rises to $390 if children are involved. Also, the documents preparation service, such as DivorceOnline, charges $139. If the couple uses an attorney's services, it will cost an additional $300 per hour. Simply put, the final cost of the entire divorce process depends on a variety of factors, and it is unique for each couple terminating their marriage.
Each resident of Alabama can request a fee waiver from the court by completing and submitting an Application to Waive Filing Fee and Order to Waive Filing Fee. If the judge determines that paying a filing fee is a substantial financial hardship for the person, it can be waived.
In addition to basic forms required from each couple (Complaint for Divorce and Summons), some divorcing spouses should also submit documents, such as:
- Vital Statistics Form
- Marital Settlement Agreement
- Affidavit of Residency
- Testimony of Plaintiff
If the couple has minor children, parents should prepare an additional list of Alabama divorce papers:
- Child Support Guideline Form
- Child Support Obligation Income Statement
- Child Support Information Sheet
- Certificates of attendance of the Children Cope with Divorce seminar
Before submitting certain forms to the court, make sure to get in touch with a local county clerk to determine the exact papers you need to complete in your case.