ALABAMA DIVORCE BASICS AND OVERVIEW
|This is a divorce reference guide to understanding divorce in Alabama. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the Alabama divorce process information you need before, during and after.
- Time Frame: After filing the divorce papers a 30-day waiting period must transpire before court may issue a judgment of divorce.
- Where to File: Circuit Court. "In the Circuit Court for ___________ County."
- State Statutes: Code of Alabama - Title 30.
- Name of Action: Judgment of Divorce.
- Name of Parties: The filing spouse is the plaintiff; the non-filing/other spouse is the defendant.
- No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: Alabama offers both no-fault and fault divorce.
- Primary Documents Filed: the Complaint for Divorce and Decree of Divorce.
- Physical Separation Required: No.
- Separation Time to File: None.
- Legal Separation Permitted: None.
- Grounds: No-Fault: Incompatibility; Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, and voluntary abandonment and the traditional fault grounds.
- Residency requirement: Complaints for divorce may be filed in the circuit court of the county in which the defendant resides, or in the circuit court of the county in which the parties resided when the separation occurred, or if the defendant is a nonresident, then in the circuit court of the county in which the plaintiff resides.
- Mediation Required: Alabama. Code 6-6-20, which is called Mandatory Mediation Prior to Trial, provides for mandatory divorce mediation when the parties are in dispute and agree to the mediation sessions; one party requests the mediation sessions (and agrees to pay for it); the court orders the mediation sessions (if no party requests it). The court does not order mediation when domestic violence is present in the case.
- Counseling Required: There is no provision for mandatory counseling in Alabama.
- Parenting Classes Required: Alabama is considering a mandatory parenting class for divorcing parents. The mandatory class for couples with children younger than 16 years of age would be a four-hour class to increase parent's sensitivity to their children's needs during a divorce or separation proceeding. The court provides access to the Parent Education And Family Stabilization Course, a court-ordered parenting class depending on whether or not the judge feels it would be in the best interest of the minor children. This is decided on a case-by-case basis and made mandatory on an as need basis. The potential requirement is defined according to Alabama House Bill 374. A parenting class is mandatory in Calhoun County.
- Filing fee: $208. (See AL Filing Fee Waiver Form)
- Where to File for Child Support: Alabama counties have Child Support Enforcement offices.
- Child Support Guidelines Model: Income Shares model.
Child Support is based on Alabama Rule 32 of Judicial Administration and the Alabama court may order either parent to provide child support. When one parent requests child support, the parties must file standardized Child Support Guidelines form and Child Support Income Statement/Affidavit. The amount agreed upon by the parents may be different than what the guideline worksheet calculates, but it must be a reasonable amount that the court agrees with. If the parents can not agree on an amount, the court typically calculates child support using a Child Support Worksheet, which allows for a calculation of the appropriate support based on the income of each spouse and other factors. Alabama child support permits awards for extraordinary expenses, either add-ons to the support payment, or deductions, where the amount is subtracted, and they may be either mandatory or permissive. In addition courts look for appropriate deviation factors in making child support awards.
Alabama Child Support Guidelines and Worksheets:
- Property Division: Equitable distribution; however, Alabama is one of eight jurisdictions that includes separate property in the marital estate "providing the court finds a special showing of need by the non-titled spouse."
- Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation of separate property remains separate property.
- Attendance at Hearing: Usually, no. The Agreement for Taking Testimony form allows the court clerk to take the testimony of the Plaintiff in order to finalize the divorce without a hearing in front of a Judge.
- Fault Considered in Property Division: In dividing property, the courts may also consider marital misconduct.
- Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: 60 days.
- Ways to Serve Spouse: a process server, who is a sheriff or constable, or a designated person, usually makes Service of process in Alabama. Certified mail may also be used, and when necessary, service by publication.
- Divorce Records: The Alabama Center for Health Statistics
In Alabama, the Vital Statistics Form, which is a certificate of divorce, is used for state vital records. The petitioner (filing spouse) must file this from (ADPH-HS 14) with the Circuit Clerk before the divorce can be finalized. The Center for Health Statistics mailing address is P.O. Box 5625, Montgomery Alabama 36103 5625, but the county clerk will actually facilitate the process of the Vital Statistics Form getting to the Center for Health Statistics once the divorce is final. The Alabama Center for Health Statistics has divorce records starting from 1950. Any information regarding a divorce prior to 1950 should be located by contacting the county in which the divorce was filed. Divorce information is public in the state of Alabama, so anyone can request a divorce record. If one is looking for a copy of an actual Judgment of Divorce, he or she should contact the county clerks office in the county the divorce took place. The Judgment of Divorce is very different than just a Record of the Divorce. Details of the divorce itself rest within the Judgment of Divorce.