Undergoing a divorce can be a stressful and confusing time. Most people are not prepared to handle the emotional, financial, and legal aspects of ending their marriage. Without an attorney who is accessible to you, who will fight hard to protect your rights, and who has a complete understanding of Alabama divorce laws, divorce can cause emotional and financial damage that is hard to repair. You will face a wide range of issues that must be resolved during your divorce, and having the right attorney can make all the difference in helping guide you in your decision-making.
There are several basis or cause, most commonly referred to as grounds, for which a court may grant a divorce. The different grounds for divorce in Alabama are created by statute. Some of the grounds include: adultery, desertion, penitentiary imprisonment for certain prolonged periods, addiction to alcohol or drugs, mental incapacity, cruelty, or conditions which existed at the time of the marriage without the knowledge of the other party such as pregnancy and incurable physical problems. The most common ground of divorce is incompatibility. A divorce based on this ground is commonly referred to as "no fault" divorce. However, even though the finding of fault is not necessary to the court's decision to grant the divorce, the court often considers it an important factor in such matters as child custody, alimony, and division of property.
One of the biggest questions our office receives regarding divorces is "What is the difference between an uncontested and contested divorce?" An uncontested divorce is where both parties work together for the common goal of entering the final judgment of divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the parties are able to agree on all issues in the case (alimony, child custody and visitation, child support, division of property and debts, etc.). In an uncontested divorce, the parties submit to the court a settlement agreement which defines their rights and duties, along with other issues of divorce. The court reviews the settlement agreement, and in most cases the settlement agreement is incorporated into the final decree of divorce.
When the parties cannot or will not agree on all the issues, then the divorce is contested. Contested divorces are much more involved and can stretch out for a long period of time. Hotly contested issues in a divorce usually involve child custody and/or support, division of property and debts, and alimony/spousal support. In a contested divorce, the matter will go to trial and a judge will make the final decision on the various issues of the divorce.
The process begins with the plaintiff filing a Complaint for Divorce. The defendant then has thirty (30) days after being served with the Complaint to answer the divorce. If the defendant does not answer the complaint for divorce in thirty days, then the plaintiff may request a Divorce by Default. If the party does answer, then the discovery process begins. Discovery is the parties' opportunity to learn about what the other party may allege at trial. It is also the opportunity to discover marital assets, bank accounts, phone records, etc. to help with your case and to help determine a fair and equitable distribution of marital assets and debts. Once the discovery process is completed, then the case is set for trial. The trial will be before a judge with each party having the right to call witnesses and present evidence. From the testimony presented and evidence submitted, the judge will then make a final ruling on all pertinent issues, including alimony, child custody, child support, division of property and debts.
So, which is better for your situation? It depends on the couple. In an uncontested divorce, the parties have some say in their final destiny. In a contested divorce, the judge makes the final decision.
Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, each divorce has certain issues which must be resolved. Being familiar with the issues and having an attorney explain the implications of the issues is paramount to you being able to make good decisions regarding your divorce and your life after divorce. Below are some of those issues. Please visit the pages below to learn more:
Even though a divorce begins out contested, there are still ways to avoid trial. Alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, can be a very effective means of settling a divorce. In fact, divorce mediation is highly encouraged by our legal system. As an Alabama divorce attorney, I have found the courts to be very flexible if the parties are able to get along in order to move on with their lives. To learn more about mediation, please CLICK HERE to go to our MEDIATION page.
Unfortunately, mediation does not work for everyone. Many divorce proceedings will remain contested. There are certain times when it is not in your child's best interest to continue negotiations.
Dealing with a divorce can be stressful, emotional, and confusing. As an Alabama divorce attorney, I am here to help you understand all of your legal options, resolve your disputes, and protect your rights quickly, professionally, and with compassion. When settlement is not possible, as an experienced trial attorney, I will effectively litigate your case.
Contact us today for an initial consultation for your divorce case.