Divorce Lawyer in Athens and Huntsville, AL
Resources for Handling Divorce
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Divorce in the State of Alabama
In Alabama, marriage is recognized by the State as a civil contract, and it cannot exist without the mutual consent of the parties. Where mutual consent is gone, there are several options to terminate the marriage contract. The most common approach is by filing a Complaint for Divorce. A judgment of divorce operates to terminate the marriage contract. Under rare circumstances, Alabama law also allows for a marriage annulment. An annulment and a divorce are fundamentally different: An annulment renders a marriage void from the beginning, while a divorce terminates the marriage as of the date of the judgment of divorce. A judgment of divorce operates to terminate an existing marriage, whereas; a judgment of annulment declares that what had appeared to be a valid marriage was never in fact a marriage at all. Finally, Alabama Law also allows for Legal Separation. The parties may choose a legal separation when they need space between them, but they also need to maintain enforceable rights and obligations, such as medical insurance, or social security and pensions that provide payment to surviving spouses. A legal separation is reversible, but a divorce is not.
Caution: Do not make agreements or sign anything without talking to your lawyer first.
There are two types of divorce filings in Alabama
An uncontested divorce is the simplest and least expensive route to a divorce. A divorce is uncontested when the parties to the marriage agree mutual consent is gone, and they also agree on all the settlement terms for all the marital issues and all the marital assets. In this scenario, often, only one party hires an attorney. The hiring party becomes the Plaintiff in the case. The attorney represents the Plaintiff only and advises the Plaintiff only regarding Alabama laws and the Plaintiff’s best interest. This advice will usually include ways to improve the Plaintiff’s outcome in the settlement. The attorney then prepares the documents necessary to obtain a judgment of divorce, including the settlement agreements. The legal documents are then filed with the appropriate Court. According to Alabama law, the Judge must wait at least thirty days after the divorce complaint is filed before rendering a judgment of divorce.
A divorce is contested when parties cannot agree on the settlement terms. The case may still be settled without a trial, but a process of discovery and intermediate hearings will often take place to lead the parties towards an agreed, equitable settlement. If the case does not settle before trial, a Judge will take evidence and hear testimony from parties, and any witnesses presented. After that the Judge will enter a final judgment that the Court believes equitable, but not necessarily equal, based upon the evidence and testimony presented. If either party is dissatisfied with the outcome, they have thirty days to ask the Judge to make changes and forty-two days to appeal.