Explanation of Uncontested Divorce Laws in Alabama

By Kevin Owen

Although the end of a marriage typically includes disagreements and hurt feelings, Alabama law allows spouses to divorce without a trial or adversarial proceedings. In uncontested divorces, spouses voluntarily enter into a settlement agreeing to distribution of property, alimony and child custody. If the court approves the couple's agreement, the divorce may be granted in as soon as 30 days.

Although the end of a marriage typically includes disagreements and hurt feelings, Alabama law allows spouses to divorce without a trial or adversarial proceedings. In uncontested divorces, spouses voluntarily enter into a settlement agreeing to distribution of property, alimony and child custody. If the court approves the couple's agreement, the divorce may be granted in as soon as 30 days.

Filing for Uncontested Divorce

When filing an uncontested divorce in Alabama, you must file a complaint for divorce noting your grounds for dissolution of the marriage. In Alabama, the grounds for a no-fault divorce are typically incompatibility or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In fault-based divorces, in which it is alleged that misconduct on the part of one spouse caused the end of the marriage, grounds include adultery, imprisonment, habitual drunkenness or drug use, and physical abuse among others. The complaint must also confirm you are an Alabama resident. As federal law provides active-duty service members additional time to respond to a petition for divorce, your complaint must also state whether your spouse is serving in the military. When submitting the complaint for divorce, you must include a vital statistics form used by the state for record keeping, as well as a filing fee. If you and your spouse have children, the court will require you and your spouse to attend a "Children Cope with Divorce" seminar and submit additional paperwork to the court regarding your income and child support.

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Agreement of the Parties

At the time the complaint is filed, you may settle the divorce as uncontested by submitting a marital settlement agreement to the court, sometimes referred to as an "Agreement of the Parties." The agreement must address relevant issues that the court would otherwise decide, including child custody and visitation, child support, alimony and the division of marital property. The agreement must be signed by both you and your spouse and certified by a notary public, if required by the court. Given the availability of online legal services and information, retaining a lawyer for a divorce is often not required. However, you or your spouse may retain an attorney for legal advice and representation, although the same lawyer cannot represent you both.

Final Approval

After the agreement is signed by both parties, you submit it to the court for final approval. If the court approves the settlement agreement, it will grant the divorce. However, the court must wait 30 days from the date a divorce complaint is filed before it may grant a divorce and it may take longer depending on the judge's caseload. Once the judge accepts the agreement of the parties, she will issue a final divorce decree, which completes the divorce. In many cases, you do not need to appear in court.

Court Rejection

The judge does not automatically accept all divorce settlement agreements. He may reject your agreement for a simple technical reason, such as both spouses did not sign it or it was not notarized. These minor errors can be easily corrected and the court clerk may even alert you to the problem before it gets to the judge. The judge also may reject the settlement agreement if it does not address all issues relevant to the divorce. For example, if the couple has children and the agreement does not address child custody or support, the court would likely reject the agreement and require the parties to submit a new one addressing the missing components.

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Can You Get a Divorce in the State of Alabama If One Partner Refuses?

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When Does a Divorce Become Final in Arizona?

Once you decide to file for divorce in Arizona, the amount of time the process takes depends heavily on whether your spouse decides to fight the divorce or any issues involving property and custody. The divorce process is much easier and quicker if it is uncontested and can be completed in as few as 60 days, but contested divorces may take much longer.

Financial Settlements Before a Divorce

Before a divorce is finalized, couples must reach a resolution of all financial issues. Most often, this is accomplished by entering into a Marital Settlement Agreement, a comprehensive contract that sets out each party's rights and responsibilities, including issues related to custody, parenting time, child and spousal support, and the division of marital assets and debts. Before granting a divorce, a judge must be certain that the couple has resolved all financial issues so the parties will not have to return to court at a later date.

What Would Hold Up an Uncontested Divorce?

Uncontested divorces range from simple cases without children and marital assets to complicated cases with custody issues and property division. If the uncontested divorce qualifies as a simplified divorce or for a summary judgment, it usually can be expedited. However, a lengthy marriage with dependent children and a large estate often presents complicated issues. Court rules vary from state to state based on the type of uncontested divorce. Some states require a couple to submit joint petitions with settlement agreements attached and attend family mediation. Any unresolved issues can cause a rejection of the documents or delay in the court proceedings.

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