Contested Divorce Lawyers in Birmingham, AL, Helping Clients Navigate a Complex Separation
Divorce tends to be hard, but it can easily turn even more complex when parties are unable to come to an agreement on issues such as child custody, property division, child support, and other key matters. At The Rose Law Firm LLC, our team of Birmingham contested divorce lawyers bring the knowledge, resources, and experience necessary to meet your goals. We are here and ready to protect your assets and ensure the health and happiness of your family.
How Do I Pursue a Contested Divorce in Alabama?
Like many states, Alabama is considered a “no-fault” state, which means that you don’t need to list one key reason for the divorce, like one spouse cheating or an instance of domestic violence. Instead, stating that your marriage simply is no longer working out is more than enough. In Alabama, there are only two kinds of divorce: uncontested and contested. A divorce where the couple agrees on the general terms in advance and can proceed quickly and without dispute is considered an uncontested divorce.
Once the spouses work through their various disagreements, they are able to file a Separation Agreement with the court. The separation agreement lists each issue that has been settled, and the court will move forward with the approval. A judge usually does not push back on terms if both parties agree. Once the judge approves the divorce, the agreement is considered an official contract and can be enforced by either spouse. If each spouse agrees on every issue, the divorce can be made official pretty quickly from the date of the filing of a petition or when the party was served.
On the other hand, a contested divorce is a divorce where the spouses are not able to agree on many different issues. In a contested divorce, the judge will typically step in to decide the best result on any issues the spouses simply could not agree on. In a contested divorce, it is especially pivotal to work with divorce attorneys who understand the divorce laws in your state and can work hard to deliver the results in your favor.
Is the Process of a Contested Divorce Complicated?
Contested and uncontested divorces both start with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage being filed. Once your spouse has been served the petition, they must file a response with the local court within 21 days. Once that party submits a response, both parties go to a meeting where they will make an effort to work through the key factors in the divorce. If the spouses are not able to reach a peaceful agreement, the divorce is then considered contested, and the contentious issues are laid out in front of a judge. Our Birmingham law firm will quickly explain to you that you may need to work with a mediator prior to a contested hearing and show the court a report showing that you and your spouse attended mediation but couldn’t work it out.
When a contested divorce goes to court, it is known as a Final Orders Hearing. At this court hearing, both parties and their attorneys can show evidence and testimony to support their various claims and positions. The court will also need a sworn assets statement that details all relevant financial information, including financial assets, debt, properties, and expenses. Judges assess the materials shown by the parties and then decide on what they feel is a fair deal when it comes to the divorce results in Alabama.
Keep in mind that the court will always make the final decision on important matters like child custody and visitation, division of property, and any forms of spousal support. It’s also important to know that the court’s official rulings on a contested divorce case will be locked in unless one side’s legal team challenges the ruling and it is turned over by the court. A seasoned contested divorce lawyer can make all the difference in the world if your divorce does happen to make its way all the way to a court date.
How Does the Division of Assets Work?
Anytime there is a divorce settlement, a Birmingham court has to separate various marital assets and debts between the spouses “fairly,” which does not always mean “equally.” For the most part, property gathered during the marriage is usually listed as marital, whether in one spouse’s name or both spouses’ names. That includes various properties, personal assets, investments, general bank accounts, owned businesses, cars, and more. You should also take note that investment accounts like IRAs, 401Ks, pensions, or retirement plans are all treated like any other general assets during a separation. Property is almost always considered separate if it was already owned before the couple tied the knot, given as a gift, or was rewarded from specific kinds of legal settlements. Any increase in the worth of separate property from the beginning of the marriage to the date the divorce is filed is also considered marital. It is key to the entire divorce process to accurately pinpoint if an asset is “marital” or “separate.”
Once you and your trusted divorce attorney have figured out which specific assets are to be listed as part of the estate, the next crucial phase is to designate a correct value for each. It can sometimes be pretty easy to determine the worth of each asset. Other times, an expert in investments or appraisals may need to be called in, or a banking professional may be required to value a business, investments, or an IRA properly. Retirement accounts can be tricky, as the value listed on the account tends to be different from the overall net worth of the account.
If you are set on keeping the sole possession of something and listing it as a separate asset, it is pivotal that you make sure you do not combine finances or put both names on a piece of property, and you should enlist the help of a trusted divorce lawyer in Birmingham, AL. This is a key aspect of protecting yourself and your assets in a divorce. Our savvy team of contested divorce attorneys can break down these details to ensure you don’t fall into a trap. Disputes and different interpretations of separate property issues can quickly become complex when there is evidence of combining the assets.
Can a Contested Divorce Lawyer Really Help?
There are actually a lot of different loopholes that relate to the divorce process, and it is imperative to be fully aware of your rights and what is expected of you before you sign anything. Even if you know without question that you are ready to end your marriage on friendly terms and you and your spouse seem to be in full agreement on every aspect of it, you should still meet with a divorce lawyer in Birmingham. A trusted lawyer is an absolutely crucial resource for determining what you are legally owed or responsible for, even if that means hard, exhausting negotiations or going to court. You don’t need to go through a divorce alone. If there’s one person you should be able to count on, it’s your lawyer to look out for your life moving forward.
If you are at any stage of a contested divorce and think you could benefit from legal help, you should immediately reach out to a seasoned Alabama divorce lawyer. The Rose Law Firm LLC handles these cases every day and has a phenomenal track record. Call us today at (205) 858-9224 for a free consultation.