Uncontested Divorce in Alabama

Learn about the uncontested divorce process in Alabama.

There are generally two types of divorce available in most states: contested and uncontested. A divorce is "contested" when the spouses don't agree on some or all aspects of the divorce, meaning that a judge will hold a trial, examine the evidence, and call witnesses. The contested divorce process takes quite a while.

In contrast, in an uncontested divorce—also called a "simple divorce" in Alabama—the spouses agree on all of the issues required to end their marriage, so there's no need for the judge to hold a trial. An uncontested divorce is much faster and cheaper than traditional divorce—spouses can often use a DIY solution like an online divorce service. They do, though, also have the option of getting professional help.

Overview of Uncontested Divorce in Alabama

In Alabama, "uncontested divorce" essentially means that the spouses have agreed to divorce and separate their lives. In an uncontested divorce, one spouse files for divorce based on a no-fault ground (incompatibility or irreconcilable differences), and the other spouse agrees. (Ala. Code § 30-2-1(a)(7) (2021).)

In addition, in an uncontested divorce, both spouses have to reach an agreement on all major issues. The issues that you must agree on include alimony, child custody, and division of property and debt. Child support typically isn't subject to negotiation because the court will determine a minimum amount automatically according to the child support guidelines. If you or your spouse would like to set a child support amount that differs from the guidelines, though, you both will need to agree on the terms to get an uncontested divorce in Alabama.

Because there's no need for a trial or multiple court appearances, the most significant benefit of an uncontested divorce is that it is significantly less expensive than a contested divorce. Uncontested divorces are also quicker.

You don't need to hire a lawyer to get an uncontested divorce in Alabama and you can represent yourself during the process. Spouses can try to handle everything themselves or use an online service that eases the process. Even though there's no court battle in an uncontested divorce, one or both spouses can hire attorneys to help them through the uncontested divorce. You might want to talk to a lawyer, for instance, if your case feels complex or you have unanswered questions.

If you choose to work with one, an attorney can give you advice on your proposed settlement, make sure you complete the paperwork correctly, and see that you file your paperwork on time. (Keep in mind that there's another kind of professional—a mediator—who can help spouses reach agreements and prepare the paperwork that finalizes the divorce.)

Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in Alabama

In general, to obtain an uncontested divorce in Alabama, you must meet the following criteria:

  • one spouse must be a resident of Alabama for at least six months before filing (Ala. Code § 30-2-5 (2021))
  • both spouses must be willing and available to sign all of the necessary paperwork, and
  • both spouses must agree on the settlement of all issues, including spousal support.

Alabama's Uncontested Divorce Process

The required forms and fees for an uncontested divorce in Alabama vary from county to county. You can check with the court in the county in which you will be filing to see what forms and documents your court requires for an uncontested divorce.

The basic process to obtain an uncontested divorce begins by filing papers at the court in the county in which either you or your spouse lives. For more information, including instructions and forms required for filing an uncontested divorce, check Alabamalegalhelp.org, the Baldwin County Court, or the Madison County Circuit Court. Again, though, if you want a simple process that doesn't require that sort of legwork, consider trying an online DIY divorce service.

Filing the Complaint for Uncontested Divorce

The first form you need to file is the Complaint, which explains to the court what you are seeking (an uncontested divorce) and why you are seeking it (incompatibility or irreconcilable differences). You must also include basic information about yourself and your spouse. If you have any children under the age of 19 with your spouse, you will need to fill out additional forms about the children, custody, and child support.

Filing Fees for Uncontested Divorce

The cost to file for divorce varies by county in Alabama. You can contact your local court clerk to find out how much money you will need to pay when you submit your paperwork. For example, residents in Madison County will pay $324 when filing for an uncontested divorce. In Baldwin County, filing spouses must bring $227 for the filing fee. The filing fees are non-refundable, and you should bring cash, a cashier's check, or a money order.

If you can't afford to pay the filing fee in your county, you can request a fee waiver from the court.

Finalizing Your Divorce

If all of your papers are in order, you have to wait 30 days after filing for an uncontested divorce before the judge will sign your divorce decree. If your paperwork is not in order, the court will ask you to correct it, and it will delay the process. (Ala. Code 30-2-8.1(a) (2021).)

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