The Divorce Process

The Gathings Law Divorce Attorneys work with our clients at every step of the divorce process, from contemplation of divorce through the point that the the decision to dissolve a marriage is made, and the judge declares it to be final.  At every step of the process, our attorneys will work with you to come to the best conclusion for you and your family.

  • The legal process of a divorce

  • The considerations of children involved in the divorce

  • The financial considerations of a divorce

 

The Legal Process

CONTESTED OR UNCONTESTED?

Divorces in Alabama fall into two areas, contested and uncontested.  An uncontested divorce is typically faster to achieve and is often better for families. That type happens when both spouses are able to agree on getting a divorce and can come to an agreement about all issues ranging from custody of children to how to divide assets. The alternative is a contested divorce which happens when both sides cannot come to an agreement and a court has to step in and help make the decisions about how to divide the marriage. Contact us to discuss the best options that you have for your family.

 

REQUIREMENTS TO FILE IN ALABAMA

To file for divorce in Alabama, the party filing for divorce must have been a resident of the state for at least six months.  Both parties do not have to live in the state in order for the divorce to be filed here, but if both do not, the process becomes more complicated. The extra steps include the fact that divorce proceedings will have to be advertised for a certain amount of time to give the other spouse time to respond.

 

FAULT OR NO-FAULT DIVORCES

Divorces in the state can either assign fault or be considered no-fault divorces. No-fault divorces can be granted by a judge if the spouses prove they cannot live together because there is an “incompatibility of temperament,” if there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage, or if one party has voluntarily abandoned the other.

The other option for divorces in Alabama is a divorce where fault is assigned.  Under that type of divorce, one spouse has to file for divorce citing one of several reasons, including:

  • If one party was, at the time of the marriage,  physically and incurably incapacitated from entering into the marriage state.

  • Adultery

  • Imprisonment

  • The commission of a crime, either before or after marriage

  • Drug addiction

The no-fault and fault divorces have different processes so contact us at (205) 322-1201 so we can discuss your options with you.

 

THE BASIC PROCESS

All divorces, at least in the eyes of the judicial system, start with documents being filed in court, normally in the county where the parties live.  The other spouse will be notified of the filing and will be given time to respond.  A series of hearings will be held and the judge will help determine the individual process that each divorce will follow.  Some of the significant issues that will be discussed during these hearings include custody and financial support of any children, visitation with the children, financial support for both spouses, and how to divide the property and finances of the couple.  The best outcome is typically for both spouses to come to an agreement and reach a settlement during the process, but if that cannot be reached, then it will go to a trial before a judge who will make the final determinations.  We will be by your side during the entire process so that the outcome that is reached is the best possible under the circumstances for you and your family.  Contact us by calling (205) 322-1201 or by visiting our contact page.

 

Considerations of Children

Divorces involving families with children are almost always more difficult and more emotional than those without.  The fact is that a divorce  not only impacts the lives of the spouses, it changes the world for their children.  We understand the impact a divorce can have on the entire family and will represent you with that fact as a guiding principle.

As you go through the divorce and are considering issues such as custody and visitation, remember the impact that even those words can have on a young child.  Custody and visitation are harsh words also used in our criminal system.  One thing you can do to try and make a difficult time easier for children is to choose your words carefully.  Consider using softer terms such as “parenting plan” instead of custody or visitation.  Also be cautious how you refer to your spouse around the rest of the family.  Even if you are angry, your spouse is still your children’s mother or father so try and be conscious of the impact of your words.

The decisions about where your children will spend the majority of their time are difficult ones.  Remember, even 50/50 custody is not always equal.  There are certainly days that are more meaningful than others, such as holidays and birthdays.  Don’t forget those considerations when determining a plan for your family.  But having an ad hoc custody arrangement that changes often is usually not in your children’s best interests.  Keeping them on a schedule can help them adjust to life after the divorce and to keep them involved in both parent’s lives.  Remember also that the plan you think is best for you now may not be the best plan years down the road. Consider how you will handle your children’s time as they grow and their schedules and activities change. 

 

Financial Considerations

A divorce settlement or a judgment is a permanent, life-changing event. Decisions you make today can have great implications on your life ten years from now or even when you are getting ready for retirement. Just as a supposedly even 50/50 split is not always equal when considering time with children, a 50/50 split is not always equal when considering dividing assets.  If all of your assets are in cash, then a split down the middle would be easy, but that is almost never the case.  A $300,000 home is not equal to $300,000 in cash. On one hand, the house usually comes with other expenses such as utilities and maintenance, not to mention the mortgage payment. And a house in ten years could be worth more or less than the same original amount of cash. The Gathings Law Divorce Attorneys will work with you to find the right mix of assets that works best for you today and into the future.

It may be difficult to do so, but don’t let emotions cloud your judgment when it comes to discussing a divorce settlement.  The things you give up (or the things you demand) may not be worth the same to you down the road.  Protect your rights to a fair settlement by hiring an attorney who will work with you and who can advise you about the best distribution of assets.

Contact the divorce attorneys at Gathings Law to get a free assessment of your situation and an assessment of how you can be helped today.  Honora Gathings can be reached through the contact page or by phone at (205) 322-1201.