Divorce is a difficult situation for anyone, regardless of the circumstances. Getting a divorce, whether you want it or not, presents many complicated issues with regards to property settlements, alimony, child custody, child support, and how to deal with debt. Our lawyers are trained to deal with issues that come up in divorces and how they impact families. There are many complicated nuances involved with getting divorced, so hiring the right lawyer is important. You do not want to hire a “jack of all trades” when your children and assets are involved. You need a lawyer that deals with divorce issues every day.
From a legal perspective, the divorce process begins when one spouse files a complaint for divorce with the court. The legal requirements for divorce vary depending on location; state law governs rules regarding the grounds for divorce, distribution of property, and other aspects of divorce such as alimony, child support, and child custody. The Huntsville divorce lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. help clients throughout Alabama navigate the complexities of divorce in order to obtain the best possible outcome in their cases.
Types of Divorce
There are several filing options for divorce. The following is an overview of the types of divorce and the grounds on which they are based:
- Contested Divorce – Grounds for this type of divorce are fault-based and include adultery, cruelty, incurable insanity, and the commission of a crime against nature. Because the plaintiff is required to produce evidence to prove their case, these types of divorce tend to be much more complex and contentious. As such, they also tend to be more expensive and take more time to resolve.
- Uncontested Divorce – This type of divorce is based on no-fault grounds, or an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage, also called irreconcilable differences. An uncontested divorce is one where both parties agree on the issues at hand in their divorce. Uncontested divorces may be the preferred option for all types of situations, including short-term marriages with no children, no joint assets or debts and/or small amounts or no personal property to distribute, as well as long-term marriages with children, alimony, retirement division, child custody, child support, mortgages, etc. As long as you and your spouse can agree on the details of your divorce, you will save a lot of time and money as well as have a more peaceful divorce.
- Default Divorce – If a spouse does not answer the divorce complaint within the allotted amount of time (typically 30 days), he or she may be subject to divorce by default, otherwise known as divorce by publication.
- Military Divorce – Compared to a civilian divorce, a military divorce has several unique issues including jurisdiction, distribution of property and alimony/spousal support payments. In order for the court to have jurisdiction over a military divorce, a member of the U.S. armed services or his or her spouse must either reside in the state or currently be stationed in that state. Additionally, there are laws in place to protect active duty members from “defaulting” on divorce proceedings if their status as a member of the military precludes their attendance at court hearings. Finally, the laws also differ in regard to retirement funds, distribution of property and alimony/spousal support payments for military members. Active or retired military members or their spouses who are seeking divorce should contact a qualified Huntsville divorce lawyer to ensure that their rights are protected. Ask about our military discount!
Requirements for Divorce in Alabama
To file for divorce in Alabama, one must be a resident living in the state for at least six months prior to filing. Divorce must be requested on the grounds of either fault (contested) or no-fault (uncontested). However, regardless of which type of divorce is requested, Alabama residents must wait at least 30 days for the divorce to be final, according to the state’s statutory waiting period.
Marital Property Distribution
If spouses cannot agree on how their assets will be divided upon divorce, they effectively leave the decision to a judge. Generally, anything acquired by either of the spouses before the marriage is considered separate property not subject to distribution and anything acquired by either spouse after the marriage is considered marital property which may be divided according to state law.
Alabama follows the system of equitable distribution when it comes to the division of marital property. This means that courts will divide marital property equitably. The division does not have to be equal; it just has to be fair. This is a subjective determination to be made by the judge based on each spouse’s other assets, the duration of the marriage, the health of each party and their future earning power, as well as other factors. The Huntsville divorce lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. provide experienced legal advice regarding all aspects of divorce, including marital property distribution and settlement.
One spouse may be required to pay alimony, or financial support, to the other. Generally, alimony may be awarded on a temporary basis while the divorce proceedings are ongoing, as well as on a permanent basis once the divorce is final. In Alabama, there are two types of alimony: alimony in gross, which comes in the form of a lump sum payment; and periodic alimony, which is paid in installments on an ongoing basis. Factors that judges consider include:
- Conduct that contributed to the divorce
- Dependent children’s needs
- Future income potential of each spouse
- Income of the paying party/ability to pay
- Income of the receiving party/need for support
- Length of the marriage
- Spouse’s services rendered as a parent or homemaker
- Standard of living during the marriage
- The age and health of each spouse
Child Support & Child Custody
In Alabama, judges must follow statutory guidelines regarding child support unless there is an acceptable reason to deviate. Generally, child custody decisions are made based on what is in the best interest of the child and courts will take several factors into account, including the:
- Child’s wishes (if mature enough to state a preference)
- Home environments of each parent
- Recommendations from experts
- Relationship between the child and each parent
- Sex and age of the child
A final divorce decree may be modified due to a change in circumstances, typically involving either the children or financial circumstances. Those seeking to modify the terms of their divorce should seek the counsel of a qualified attorney in their local area to increase their chances of a successful outcome.
Huntsville Divorce Lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. Provide Experienced Legal Counsel on All Divorce Matters
For assistance with your divorce, contact a Huntsville divorce lawyer at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. Our skilled attorneys represent clients throughout Alabama. For a confidential consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 256-539-3110 or 888-539-3110. From our offices in Huntsville and Athens, we assist clients across North Alabama, including the areas of Madison County, Limestone County, Marshall County, Jackson County, Morgan County, and Lauderdale County.