Getting a divorce in Alabama is a fairly straightforward process, as long as everything goes smoothly. However, there are several steps that you’ll need to take when filing for a divorce, even if you can reach an agreement with your ex on issues like division of property, child custody, and support payments.

If you’re preparing to divorce, it’s important to understand all of the steps before you get started. Here’s what you need to know about the divorce process in Alabama.

What Types of Divorce Are Recognized in Alabama?

Alabama is one of the few states that still differentiates between “fault” and “no-fault” divorces. In a no-fault divorce, the couple simply decides that their marriage cannot continue, with no specific reason needed, other than incompatibility, irreconcilable differences, or similar issues. For fault divorces, there is a list of acceptable reasons for divorce, including adultery, abandonment, and drug addiction.

Divorces can also be contested or uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, the divorcing spouses reach an agreement on the settlement and do not require the court’s intervention. In a contested divorce, one or more issues are unresolved and must be decided by mediation or in the courtroom.

What Are the Steps of Getting a Divorce?

Once you’ve decided whether you’ll be pursuing a no-fault or fault divorce, you’ll file the initial paperwork with the court. This is known as a Complaint for Divorce. Once you have filed for divorce, you’ll go through the following steps:

  • Serve your spouse with notice that the Complaint for Divorce has been filed
  • Wait for your spouse to respond within 30 days
  • Share discovery materials and request information from your spouse
  • File for temporary custody or spousal support, if appropriate
  • Participate in negotiations or hearings to decide on the terms of the settlement
  • Receive a “Final Decree” from the court, finalizing the divorce

Depending on how well you and your spouse cooperate with one another, many of these steps will be quick and painless. If you have a contentious relationship, however, the process can be long and emotional, taking up to a year or more. Each divorce is unique, and the steps might vary somewhat based on the circumstances.

Do You Need a Divorce Lawyer?

Very few divorces are simple enough to process without the help of a divorce lawyer. If you are planning to file for divorce in Alabama, it’s a good idea to work with an experienced attorney who can walk you through the process. A lawyer can also help to ensure that the settlement is fair for you.

To learn more about the divorce process, give our Birmingham law office a call at (205) 858-9224. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you get the process started.