If you’ve made the decision to get divorced, you’ve likely already experienced a great deal of stress. Now that you have arrived at your decision, you want to move forward as quickly and easily as possible. Fortunately, getting a divorce in Alabama can be fairly straightforward and might be able to complete without a lawyer. You simply need to fill out the appropriate divorce papers and submit them to your county clerk to start the process. Completing your Alabama online divorce papers with CompleteCase.com will make this process even easier, ensuring that you have all the required forms, and that those forms are filled out correctlythe first time.
The following information will help you understand the basics of divorce in the state of Alabama, and how you can begin to move on with your own divorce.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the divorce rate in Alabama in 2011 was 4.3 for every 1,000 residents. The rate has dropped noticeably since 1990, when it was 6.1 for every 1,000 residents. Alabama's divorce rate is higher than many states, but not the highest.
Alabama requires that you or your spouse have been a resident of the county that you file for divorce in for at least six months. You will have the option of filing a no-fault divorce or a fault-based divorce.
A no-fault divorce is the simplest and most popular type of divorce, as it only requires you to list “irreconcilable differences” with your spouse, and to state that the marriage is no longer something that can be maintained. Most people prefer no-fault because it does not require proving that your spouse caused the end of the marriage, and it avoids bringing potentially embarrassing information to light in court.
Alabama also allows for fault-based divorce although it is not as popular an option because it is a more difficult and involved process. In a fault-based divorce, you have to choose a grounds for divorce accepted by Alabama, including adultery, impotence, habitual drunkenness or a variety of other undesirable situations. If you and your spouse are not in agreement on important divorce-related issues, you may consider a mediated divorce, or more costly legal representation.
The forms you file for divorce will vary based on your specific circumstances, as well as the county in which you file. At minimum, you will need to file a “Complaint for Divorce” with the court. This document must include information about you and your spouse and the reason for divorce. The complaint is also where you will identify any issues that need to be worked out by the court, including child custody, child support, alimony and dividing your assets and debts.
If you are going through the divorce without legal representation, you will want to contact your local county clerk and ask about the additional required divorce papers beyond the complaint.
The easiest, and least expensive type of divorce is an “uncontested divorce”. An uncontested divorce means you and your spouse agree on everything and just need the court to grant the divorce. The more issues you have to work out in the court, the more time it will take and the more expensive the divorce process will be.
It is normal to feel overwhelmed as you look through the potential divorce papers you need to complete for Alabama. Unless you have legal training, you may not recognize all the language or understand the steps you need to take. For many people, completing Alabama’s online divorce documents with CompleteCase.com can help alleviate some of the pressure during this process. CompleteCase.com will provide the required forms, guide you on how to fill them out, and ensure you are filling them out correctly.
When you have completed your divorce Alabama divorce papers, you will want to make at least two additional copies – one for your records and one to serve to your spouse. The Alabama Administrative Office Of Courts website offers a map to help you find which court you need to file at. You will want to call ahead to your local court to verify that you are bringing everything you need, including a form of payment acceptable by the court for your filing fee. Upon successful review, the court will stamp your documents to show that they have been filed.
After your divorce documents are stamped, the next step is to serve those documents to your spouse. “Serving” is the legal term referring to giving a copy of legal papers to someone, giving him or her the chance to respond. If you and your spouse are on good terms, you may be able to hand over the forms to him or her and get a completed “Acknowledgment of Service” in return. You can file the acknowledgment with the court to finalize the filing process.
If handing over the divorce papers to your spouse is not an option, you can hire a professional to serve the papers. You can hire a sheriff's deputy to do the job, or a private process server. The sheriff tends to be the less expensive option, but will usually only attempt to serve the papers once, for the fee you pay. A private process server may cost more, but he or she will usually make several attempts to serve the papers.
If your spouse is being difficult and refusing to accept the documents, you may be able to get the clerk to send copies by certified mail. When your spouse signs for the papers, the clerk can use that receipt to prove that the papers were served.
When the proof of service is filed, the divorce will move forward in the courts. If you and your spouse agree on everything, the process can happen quickly. If not, you will need to go to trial, which can take considerably longer.