Birmingham Divorce Attorneys
Marriage is an amazing experience, and one that is rich with many rewards over the years. It is also a very challenging dynamic between two people, though, and can leave people feeling sad, frustrated, angry, and a long list of other emotions. While some couples are able to collaborate and work together to resolve differences, for others, separation is best.
At the office of Kirk Drennan Law, our experienced divorce lawyers in Alabama are here to help you if your marriage has come to an end. To learn more about our legal services and how we can help you when you need it most, please call us today.
Grounds for Divorce in Alabama
If you’re ready to separate from your spouse, one of the first things you need to think about are the grounds for divorce in our state. As found in the Code of Alabama Section 30-2-1, the grounds for divorce in Alabama are as follows:
- Abandonment for at least one year
- Imprisonment for at least two years, with a sentence of seven years or longer
- Sexual “crime against nature”
- Habitual drunkenness or drug addiction
- Incarceration in a mental hospital for a period of at least five years
- Pregnancy at the time of the marriage without the other party’s knowledge or agency
- Violence or apprehension of violence
- Living separate and apart for at least two years
In addition to the above fault-based grounds, there are also two no-fault grounds recognized by the statute:
- First, the court may grant a divorce to either party when either party alleges that there is such a “complete incompatibility of temperament” that the parties can no longer live together; or
- When the court finds that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” and that reconciliation is futile.
Most people who are seeking divorce in Alabama do so based on no-fault grounds. If you have cause to pursue a fault-based divorce, please consult with our law firm. We can help you to understand when filing for a fault-based divorce makes sense.
Residency Requirements for Divorce
Another thing to think about before you file for a divorce in our state are the residency requirements. In Alabama, either you or your spouse must have resided in the state for a minimum of six months prior to file. So long as either one of you meets this requirement, your filing can proceed.
The Divorce Process
If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, it is important that you understand the divorce process. Here’s a brief overview of what you should know–note that things may differ slightly based on your individual situation.
- Establish residency requirements and identify your grounds for filing.
- Prepare your filing documents.
- File your complaint–in filing your complaint, you will need to establish the grounds for divorce and state your terms related to the many issues that must be resolved before a divorce can be granted (discussed in further detail below). Your complaint will then need to be served to your spouse.
- Await a response–your spouse will have 30 days from the day that they are served to respond to your complaint. If more than 30 days pass, you may have grounds to pursue a default divorce.
- Contested vs. uncontested divorce–if the divorce is contested, this means that your spouse is in disagreement about your proposed terms. The divorce will proceed as a contested divorce, which will require mediation and, if mediation fails, then litigation. If the divorce is uncontested, then it can proceed and be finalized by a family law judge.
Typically, before negotiations ensue, a discovery process will take place where you and your spouse exchange information about your finances and any other evidence that may impact the outcome of your case. Talk to your attorney to learn more about the discovery process.
Issues to Resolve in a Divorce
Before your divorce can be resolved, you and your spouse will need to come to an agreement about the terms of your divorce; otherwise, litigation will be necessary. Key things you’ll need to reach an agreement on before your divorce can be finalized include:
- Division of property. All divorcing couples will need to come to an agreement about how their assets and debts are to be split. In Alabama, assets are to be divided in a manner that is equitable, but not necessarily equal.
- Alimony/spousal support. If you and your spouse do not make an equal or close-to-equal amount of income, then one of you may have been dependent on the other throughout the course of the marriage. This is especially true for stay-at-home parents. When one spouse will not be able to provide for their needs and support their same quality of life without the income of the other spouse, alimony–also known as spousal maintenance/support–may be part of the divorce settlement.
- Child custody and support. Finally, for couples who have children, it will be essential to determine where shared children will live, what the visiting rights of the other parent will be, who will have decision-making power pertaining to things that affect the children’s lives, and more. Additionally, the non-custodial parent will also be ordered by the court to make child support payments.
How to Find a Divorce Lawyer You Can Trust
Check Reviews from Multiple Sources
If you are exploring different options online, make sure you are getting feedback from multiple sources. While testimonials on a lawyer’s website are a good look at what their happiest clients say, you also want to check out reviews on independent platforms. Look for any common threads in negative reviews; if the same issues are brought up again and again, that could be an issue you will need to deal with if you choose that attorney.
Get a Personal Recommendation if Possible
While asking for recommendations for something as personal as a divorce lawyer might feel strange, you’d be surprised how many people are willing to open up and share their favorite attorney. If a recommendation comes from someone you trust, you will likely feel a lot more confident about your choice.
See If They Listen During Your Consultation
Set up consultations with multiple divorce attorneys to find one who is a good fit. Be frank about what you want from the divorce. Do you want a peaceful divorce that prioritizes co-parenting, or do you want to come in aggressive and fight for everything you can get? Are you interested in mediation or other dispute resolution methods? Regardless of what you want, you want an attorney who respects that and is willing to work toward it, not one who pushes their own idea of what a successful divorce is.
Watch Out for Pressure to Retain Them
A seasoned attorney will understand that this is a huge decision and that you may need time to think about it. If they try to pressure you to sign on with them immediately, that may be a red flag. You should feel safe and supported with a trustworthy divorce attorney, not one who will push you to act against your best judgment.
Make Decisions Based from Logic, Not Emotion
This is perhaps the most difficult advice to follow. Divorce is a time of high emotion, and emotions don’t always guide you to the best decisions. Perhaps you’re angry at your ex-partner in the wake of a divorce announcement so you go for the most aggressive lawyer you can find in your city, despite them not being a good fit for you.
Common Mistakes People Make During a Divorce
Not Hiring an Attorney or Not Exploring Your Options
The attorney you hire may be the single most important decision you make during the divorce process. Your choice of attorney can drive the overall tone of negotiations, how much of what you want you are able to get, and the nature of your co-parenting relationship. Trying to handle your own divorce will likely lead to a one-sided settlement that leaves you with nothing; but going with the first divorce attorney you find can also be harmful. Weigh your options, get recommendations, and set up consultations to find a good pick.
Letting Emotion Drive Your Actions
There is so much pain, anger, and resentment at the heart of most divorce cases. This is completely normal, but you should not let your emotions guide the divorce process for you. Making decisions based on emotion may lead you to drag out issues that aren’t important, focusing on hurting your ex-partner rather than helping yourself, and making this process even more painful than it needs to be. Tend to your emotions in private, but when it’s time to talk about the divorce, let logic guide you.
Making Sideline Agreements
You’ve hired your attorney for a reason, so let them do their job. If you’re chatting with your ex-spouse behind the scenes and making oral agreements that conflict with negotiations, you are hurting your own case. Emotions change quickly during divorce, and the verbal agreements you make today could fall apart by tomorrow. Make sure all agreements go through the proper channels.
Failing to Prepare for Post-Divorce Life
For many people, divorce is a huge financial hit. You have to be realistic about what you may and may not get in the divorce, and what that means for your quality of life. As you plan your career, where you’ll live, and more, make sure you are not overextending yourself.
Becoming a Spectator
You must be an active participant in your divorce. This can be difficult for partners who have largely taken a follower role in their own marriage, as they naturally fall into that role during the divorce. You can no longer expect your ex-partner to protect your best interest, so be willing to stand up and play an active role in this process. Advocate for yourself, your children, and your future. If this is difficult for you, you may find it helpful to hire an aggressive attorney.
Whether you’re hiding information about assets or not being clear about what you actually prioritize in your divorce, hiding information is not a good use of your time. The more honest and direct you are with your attorney, the more quickly they can work on getting a divorce agreement that actually reflects your best interests. The truth will come out eventually anyway, so make sure it comes from you.
Rushing to Settle
We understand that divorce is stressful, which makes it tempting to settle as quickly as possible to move on. However, the first agreement your ex-partner presents you with may not be a fair one. Be willing to wait and advocate for yourself until you get a divorce agreement that is fair to you.
How Our Alabama Divorce Lawyers Can Help
Going through a divorce can be a long, grueling process, especially when the divorce is hotly contested, and compromise seems impossible. Whether your divorce is easy and straightforward or complicated and complex, our experienced Alabama divorce lawyers can help. From filing your paperwork to representing you during negotiations to advocating for you in the courtroom, we can do it all. We know how much is on the line, and we will aggressively fight for your best interests. We also handle divorce cases in Hoover, Alabama.
To learn more about our Alabama divorce law firm and the lawyers at the office of Kirk Drennan Law, please call our office directly or send us a message telling us more about how we can serve you. Our firm is open Monday through Friday, and you can reach us at (205) 803-3500 to get started.