Alabama Contested Divorce

Alabama Contested Divorce OverviewThe Monk Law Firm handles contested divorces in Mobile and Baldwin County. If you are contemplating a divorce, call for a free consultation. Going through a divorce can be very difficult, emotionally trying and stressful because it is an adversarial process. Consequently, you should not go through this divorce process without the benefit legal counsel. I believe you should exhaust all effort to settle your divorce as an uncontested divorce before you move forward with a contested divorce because of the high cost of litigation and the emotional toll it can take.

The contested divorce process can be a long and complex process. If you don’t consult an attorney, you may take actions which will put you at a disadvantage. For example, some spouses move out the marital house before consulting an attorney. If you move out and continue to the pay the mortgage and then your spouse files for a divorce, you may be required to keep making the mortgage payments. In other words, you may have to maintain two households until your trial or the divorce is settled. At the trial the judge make an equitable distribution of all the marital assets and debts. You need to consult a lawyer to determine what is marital property. Furthermore, an attorney can act as a counselor to help you decide if a contested divorce is the best avenue to take.

What is a Contested Divorce?

A contested divorce is where you don’t know where your spouse lives, or your spouse won’t sign the divorce paperwork, or both parties cannot agree upon everything such as:

  • alimony
  • division of assets
  • division of debts
  • child custody
  • child visitation
  • child support

If you have children, you can go to my child support calculator to get an idea of how much child support could be ordered.

The Contested Divorce Process Overview

  1. The required information is gathered from the party wanting to file the divorce.
    • This information will include your name, address, birth date, assets, debts, length of marriage and the reason for the divorce. The reason for the divorce can be fault based or no fault based. For example,  some of the grounds for divorce are domestic violence, adultery, incompatibility of temperaments and irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
  2. The attorney files a complaint with the court, which starts the divorce proceedings.
    • The complaint sets forth the the party’s request for a divorce, request for the division of the marital property, custody of any children, child support and alimony. This complaint also sets out the grounds for divorce. The grounds for divorce can be fault based or no fault based.
  3. The complaint and any discovery filed at the same time as the complaint is served the non-filing party.
    • The non-filing party is served with the paperwork either by a private process server or a sheriff. Served is just another way of saying that the divorce paperwork is given to the person.
    • If the party does not know where the non-filing party lives then the non-filing party is served by publication through a newspaper which provides notice of the divorce action.
    • Some judges hold a hearing to determine what actions you have taken to locate your spouse before the judge grants the motion for publication.

  4. Once, the complaint is filed, the divorce judge issues a pretrial order. Contained in the pretrial order are several requirements of the parties. One requirement is the status quo order. A status quo order provides that the parties shall not dispose of any assets acquired during the marriage without the court permission, except when it is necessary in the normal and reasonable course of a business. Also contained in the order is the requirement that the parties continue to debts and bills of the marriage in the same manner and from the same sources as they have customarily been paid during the marriage. Assets of teh parties should not be disposed of by either party. Furthermore, the absent parent should be allowed reasonable and regular visitation of the children.
    • The non-filing spouse has 30 or 45 days in which to answer the complaint depending on if there was discovery filed with the complaint.
      • If no discovery was filed with the complaint, then the non-filing spouse has 30 days in which to answer the complaint. If discover was filed with the complaint, then  the non-filing spouse will have 45 days in which to answer the complaint.
    • Temporary hearings may be required.
    • Each party conducts discovery.
      • Discovery consists of such items as interrogatories, request for production, and depositions. Interrogatories and request for production are a fancy way of saying that the attorney sends your spouse written questions and requests documents. Depositions are where a party is questioned under oath at one of the attorney’s office and that testimony is taken down by a court reporter. This testimony may be used at trial.
    • The parties must attend a transparenting class.
    • The case is set for trial.
    • Some courts order mediation if the case is not disposed of within a certain time. The parties can agree on a mediator or if the parties can’t agree on the mediator, the court can appoint someone. Of course, the parties have to pay for the mediation. If the parties reach a fair and equitable agreement, then all the necessary paperwork if filed with the court and settled.
      • At trial both sides presences their evidence.
        • Evidence can be in the form of testimony, documents, photographs, recordings or other things. Testimony is where a person is placed on the witness stand and put under oath. Then each side will the person ask questions which he or she has to answer.
      • The judge issues a ruling after trial (i.e. judgment of divorce).
        • At trial the judge hears the evidence and makes a ruling based upon the evidence submitted. In other words, the judge issues a judgment of divorce in your case and orders a dissolution of the marriage. If your case is tried, the judge makes the final decisions as to the division of assets, custody, child support, visitation and alimony. In other words, if the parties don’t settle their differences the judge makes all the decisions and the judge may reach a solution that neither one of the parties are happy with.

How long does it take?

A contested divorce is more complex and requires more work than an uncontested divorce. Interrogatories have to  be answered from both sides. Documents have be produced to both parties. Sometimes depositions have to be taken. The parties may even engage a mediator before the trial of their case. Consequently, the contested divorce process takes anywhere from six months to a year to get to trial and for the judge to issue a a judgment of divorce. Based on the facts and circumstances of your particular case, your divorce may even take longer than a year.

How much does it cost?

Divorce attorneys in Mobile Alabama typically charge anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 to to get started on a contested divorce. That is why always tell my potential clients that it always pays to try to get your divorce settled through the uncontested process.

How can I get started?

  • You can contact me via the contact page, fill out the divorce intake form or call the firm. If no one answers, leave a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible.
  • You do not even have to make an appointment to come into the office to get your divorce started.
  • You can get your divorce started via a phone consultation and credit card payment.
  • Once the divorce paperwork has been completed, it can be e-mailed to you.
  • If the paperwork is acceptable, you can make an appointment to come into my office and sign the paperwork.
  • The paperwork is then filed with the court.

When You Need a Contested Divorce

If you need a divorce, learn why you should hire an Alabama lawyer to represent you. I understand that sometimes problems don’t occur nine to five.  Consequently, a lawyer is available on a limited basis to take your calls on the weekend and after hours.  Please call the firm and leave a message and lawyer will call you back as soon as possible.