The decision to seek a divorce is one of the most difficult decisions a person will make in his or her lifetime. When they get married, many people believe their spouse will remain their spouse until death. If the marriage falls apart, the effects of the divorce are felt strongly by the other spouse and the children of the marriage.
A divorce can be amicable (uncontested divorce), meaning that the parties agree to divorce and decide all issues of the divorce together, including alimony, child custody and support, and the division of marital assets. It can also be contentious (contested divorce), meaning no agreement can be made on any of the issues so court intervention is required to resolve those issues. Especially during these circumstances, an experienced family law firm will be extremely helpful in ensuring you maintain what is legally yours.
There are administrative steps that must be taken by couples seeking an Alabama divorce. These steps are similar to those which are required in order to obtain a marriage license prior to the actual marriage ceremony. When thinking about filing for divorce, consult with a divorce and family law firm to make sure you understand your rights and what needs to be done to ensure the divorce goes as smoothly as possible.
Before filing for divorce, the couple must demonstrate that they lived in Alabama, got married in Alabama, or were separated in Alabama. Typically, parties file actions for an Alabama divorce in the county in which they live. After filing for divorce, the parties must wait thirty days before the divorce action can formerly commence in court.
Alabama divorce actions commence with the filing of a summons and complaint. This is usually done by the divorce attorney hired by one of the spouses. These documents formerly notify the spouse a divorce action has been started and state the claims under which the spouse seeks to dissolve the marriage. The other spouse is the defendant, and he or she must serve response or answer pursuant to the law. Again, this can be taken care of formally by the defendant’s Birmingham divorce and family law attorney.
The parties can agree to a fault (uncontested divorce) and only litigate financial settlement as well as child custody and support, or they can have a contested divorce and all aspects of the divorce will need to be negotiated by the divorce and family law firm representing each spouse.
Alabama permits couples to divorce under one of twelve possible grounds according to Birmingham divorce and family law. The statutory grounds include the following circumstances:
It is important to note that alimony actions seek to declare the marriage null and void while divorce actions dissolve the marriage. Your experienced Birmingham divorce lawyer can explain the difference to you and elaborate on any or all of the 12 reasons listed above for the dissolution of a marriage.
Alabama is an equitable distribution state, meaning the assets and liabilities of the parties upon dissolution of the marriage are divided fairly and equitably. Spouses keep any separate property they owned prior to entering the marriage and split marital assets equitably. It is important for your divorce attorney to know the specifics of your property and assets so that a fair distribution can be negotiated, especially if you have a contested divorce situation. An uncontested divorce should help these proceedings go more smoothly, but it is still critical that your divorce lawyer is aware of all property and assets.
Considerations of alimony, or financial maintenance to one of the spouses, are also decided using this fair and equitable standard. Factors like the length of the marriage and the contributions of the spouses to the overall financial status of the family, among others, will be evaluated by family law attorneys and a judge (if necessary) to make a final determination. Birmingham divorce lawyers are well-versed in all aspects of divorce law, and your divorce attorney can help determine how your assets and property will be divided after your Birmingham divorce has been finalized.
Parties can agree to joint and separate legal child custody and visitation arrangements for the minor children of the marriage. Whether it is a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce, the child custody and child support issues can be difficult, especially without experienced Birmingham divorce lawyers with knowledge in family law matters of all types on your side. When there is no child custody agreement, the court will apply the best interest of child standard found in Parte: Devine v. Devine (1981).
Child support in Birmingham, Alabama, is based on the Income Shares Model, meaning both parents are required to support their children pursuant to their means with the non-custodial parent making the payment to the custodial spouse directly or by income execution order. Child support is just as important – and often as contentious – as child custody, so it is critical to have a divorce attorney in your corner fighting for your parental rights.
If you are contemplating filing for divorce in Southeastern Alabama, including the city of Birmingham, or you have been served with divorce papers by your spouse, you should consult a divorce lawyer to understand your rights and responsibilities as you legally end your marriage. Whether it is an uncontested or contested divorce, you should always have an experienced Birmingham divorce attorney on your side to assist you with all of the decisions you will have to make and the negotiations which may be needed.
Massey, Stotser & Nichols, PC, is the divorce and family law office that will provide you the legal advice you need at every consultation and make sure your rights, alimony, child support, and property is maintained throughout the divorce process. We understand the many divorce issues which may arise in cases, and the attorneys at our law office are here to help you through them all. Contact the MSN divorce attorneys for the experience, dedication, and expertise you need to get through your divorce as effectively and efficiently as possible.
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