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How to File for Divorce in Alabama without a Lawyer

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This easy to use online divorce is a "do it yourself (without a lawyer)" solution for any uncontested divorce (with or without children) that will be filed in the state of Alabama. An uncontested divorce in Alabama is one in which you and your spouse are in agreement and eliminates the stress and expense of settling your divorce in court.

With 3StepDivorce TM you will complete and print your Alabama divorce forms (including a marital settlement agreement) instantly. Then, follow our step-by-step filing procedures to file your own divorce in Alabama in a timely, professional, and hassle free fashion. The online software is designed to give you full control of your divorce and also avoids the use of third party data entry, thus helping protect your personal information and privacy.

Online Divorce FAQ: Alabama

Filing for divorce can seem overwhelming. Like starting almost any other legal proceeding, it takes finding the right forms, filling out the forms properly, and understanding the court’s requirements for the next steps you’ll need to take.

Traditionally, most people have hired a lawyer to take care of all the legal matters in their divorce. But more and more couples are turning to a much cheaper option that’s still easier than figuring out everything on their own: filing for divorce online.

If you want to know more, read on for answers to some of the most common questions about online divorce in Alabama.

How Does Online Divorce Work in Alabama?

Alabama 3StepDivorce™ takes care of the divorce paperwork for you. Once you sign up for the service, you’ll answer some questions about your situation. Based on your responses to the questionnaire, Alabama 3StepDivorce™ will fill out the forms the state requires to start the divorce process, along with instructions for adding any further information that’s needed. You’ll be able to print out the forms yourself immediately or, if you prefer, get hard copies by mail.

Can I File for Divorce in Alabama?

Alabama has two basic requirements to file for divorce in the state: a residency requirement, and a legally recognized reason for ending your marriage.

What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in Alabama?

When the spouse who didn’t file the initial divorce papers (known as the “defendant”) is not currently living in the state, the other spouse (the “plaintiff”) must have lived in Alabama for at least six months just before filing for divorce. (Ala. Code § 30-2-5 (2022).) Otherwise, there’s no minimum amount of time you must have lived in the state in order to file for divorce.

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Alabama?

Alabama law allows both “no-fault” and “fault-based” legal reasons (“grounds”) for divorce. When you file for a fault-based divorce, you must claim that your spouse is to blame for the end of your marriage by engaging in certain kinds of misconduct, like adultery or violence. Because you’ll have to prove that claim, fault-based divorces almost always cost more and take longer to resolve—without any advantage in the vast majority of cases.

That’s why most Alabama couples choose no-fault divorce. The state allows you to file for divorce based on one of the following no-fault grounds:

  • you and your spouse are so completely incompatible that you can’t live together, or

  • your marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown,” and any more attempts to get back together would be futile or impractical and wouldn’t be in the family’s best interests.

(Ala. Code § 30-2-1 (2022).)

Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce in Alabama?

Many Alabama residents are finding that they can file for divorce and get through the process without the expense of hiring a lawyer if they’re filing for an “uncontested divorce” in the state. That means that they’ve agreed with each other about all of the legal issues in their divorce, including:

If you still have disagreements with your spouse about these or any other issues involved in ending your marriage, you’ll have to file for a traditional, contested divorce. Because that will involve legal battles and presenting evidence and arguments at court hearings, it would be risky to pursue a contested divorce without a lawyer to navigate the process for you—especially if your spouse has an attorney.

Can I Use Alabama 3StepDivorce™ in My Situation?

We follow standard procedures for uncontested, DIY divorces based on the local process. Our service requires both parties to be cooperative and in full agreement. Therefore, our services use no-fault grounds (for example, "irreconcilable differences") and each party will waive certain procedural rights.

We cannot accommodate cases that involve: existing cases or support orders; domestic violence; restraining orders; contested issues; missing spouses; protected addresses; common law marriages; dissolution of registered domestic partnerships; pregnancy; temporary or retroactive support orders; lack of jurisdiction over the children under the UCCJEA; exclusive jurisdiction over the case by another court; third-party child custody or support; or children who are emancipated or otherwise not dependent on the parties. Some cases may require additional forms or filing requirements that are not provided by our service, including but not limited to cases involving: filing fee waivers; change in address; recipients of public assistance; division or transfers of retirement accounts; and multiple visitation plans.

What If My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on the Issues in Our Divorce?

Just because you haven’t been able to agree with your spouse about everything in your divorce, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go through an expensive and time-consuming contested divorce. You could try divorce mediation. If you’re able to resolve your disagreements with the mediator’s help, you can then use Alabama 3StepDivorce™ to prepare the written settlement agreement, along with the other divorce paperwork.

Can I Get an Online Divorce in Alabama If I Have Children?

Generally, you can use Alabama 3StepDivorce™ even when you have minor children with your spouse, as long as you agree on all of the issues related to your kids, including legal and physical custody, a parenting (visitation) schedule, child support, health and dental insurance, and tax deductions. Alabama 3StepDivorce™ will allow you to address these issues in your settlement agreement. We provide a standard parenting schedule, but you’ll have an option of customizing the schedule to meet your individual needs.

However, you won’t be able to address custody-related issues with Alabama 3StepDivorce™ if the affected child or children don’t meet the “home state” requirement. Usually, that means the child must have lived in Alabama with a parent (or a parent figure) during the entire six-month period before you file for divorce (or since birth if the child is younger than six months old). If you don’t meet the six-month rule, you should speak with an attorney to find out whether you might qualify for one of the complicated exceptions to this rule. (Ala. Code §§ 30-3b-102(7), 30-3b-201 (2022).)

How Will My Online Divorce in Alabama Deal With Child Support?

In Alabama, both parents have an obligation to support their children. And like all states, Alabama has child support guidelines for calculating how much support the parents should pay, based largely on their incomes and custody arrangements.

3StepDivorce™ provides the Alabama Child Support Guideline Worksheet, so you can easily calculate the state's guideline level of support. You and your spouse may agree to an amount of child support that differs from the guideline amount, but you must explain the reasons for that difference in your agreement. The judge will review your agreement and will approve it only if the amount of child support appears to be fair. (Ala. Rules Jud. Admin., rule 32 (2022).)

In your settlement agreement, you and your spouse may include child support provisions that aren’t legally required, such as a parent’s contributions to private school tuition or the cost of a child’s college education. You may also agree on some specific questions like which parent will claim the children as dependents on tax returns.

Will We Be Able to Change the Amount of Child Support After Divorce?

After your divorce in Alabama is final, you (or your spouse) may request a change in the amount of child support, but you’ll need to prove that there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that justifies the change. The judge will review your request based on the same legal requirements for an original child support order.

If you want to save the time and expense of a court battle over a request to modify child support, you and your spouse may agree to a modification on your own. If the agreed amount follows the guideline, you might not need a court hearing to get the modification approved.

The Child Support Enforcement Division of the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) periodically reviews child support orders to check if they still meet the child support guidelines. When your circumstances have changed significantly, you may ask for a review of your current order. If a change in support is warranted under the guidelines, DHR will help prepare the necessary legal papers and schedule a court hearing for you.

How Will Online Divorce Handle Property and Debts From Our Marriage?

When you fill out your questionnaire for Alabama 3StepDivorce™, you’ll answer a series of questions about your separate and marital property and debts, including how you’ll divide your marital property and allocate responsibility for payment of the marital debts.

What About the Family Home?

If you own a home with your spouse, your agreement can spell out what will happen to it when you get divorced. Here again, the questionnaire will include a few questions about the property and how you’ve chosen to deal with it, such as:

  • selling the house and splitting the proceeds

  • transferring ownership to one spouse, with the other spouse receiving money or other assets in exchange for that spouse’s share, or

  • continuing to own the property together while allowing one spouse to stay in the house for a period of time (and, if so, how you’ll handle paying the mortgage and other ongoing costs).

What About Retirement Accounts?

In your Alabama 3StepDivorce™, you may also agree on whether and how you’ll divide any retirement accounts that you and your spouse have, including 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and defined-benefit pensions.

If you started contributing to the retirement plan before you were married, you’ll start by figuring out how much of its current value is marital property and how much is your separate property. There are experts and firms that will do this for you (for a fee, of course). The service is usually known as a pension appraisal or valuation. You’ll almost always need this kind of expert help when you’re dealing with a defined-benefit pension.

Once you know the marital value of your work-related retirement accounts, the easiest way to handle the division of the assets is not to split them but to transfer other assets as an offset. Here’s how that works: Say you have a 401(k) through your job, and the marital portion of the account is worth $100,000. If you and your spouse agree to divide that portion down the middle, and you have other marital assets to divide (such as a regular savings account), your spouse could receive an extra $50,000 from those assets while you keep the entire 401(k). That way, you don’t have to hire another expert to prepare the kind of special order that’s needed to tell the 401(k) administrator how to divide the account.

The rules are different for IRAs. You may simply agree to have your spouse’s share transferred to another IRA account in that spouse’s name. (You’ll have to submit a special form to the bank, along with a copy of your divorce decree.)

Can I Get Alimony With an Online Divorce in Alabama?

You and your spouse may waive any right to alimony in your Alabama divorce, or you may agree on the specifics of alimony payments: who will pay, how much, and for how long. Your agreement may also state whether a court could modify alimony at any time in the future, and it could cover related issues like health insurance and life insurance.

How Do I File My Divorce Papers in Alabama?

When you get your completed forms with Alabama 3StepDivorce™, your next step will be to file your paperwork with the circuit court clerk’s office in the proper county:

  • If you and your spouse are both living in Alabama, file in the county where your spouse (the defendant) lives or where the two of you lived just before you separated.

  • If the defendant lives out of state, file in the county where you live.

(Ala. Code § 30-2-4 (2022).)

How Much Is Alabama’s Filing Fee for Divorce?

In Alabama, the court fees to file divorce papers can vary considerably from county to county. For instance, the fee is $324 in Madison County but about $200 in several other counties. Check with the court clerk’s office in the county where you’ll be filing to find out the current local fee and the payment methods they accept.

What If I Can’t Afford to Pay the Divorce Filing Fee?

If you can’t afford the filing fee, you may apply to have the fees deferred until your divorce case concludes, by filing an Affidavit of Substantial Hardship along with your divorce complaint and other initial paperwork. If you later receive notice that your application has been denied, you’ll then have to pay the fees within 30 days, or your divorce case will be dismissed. (Ala.Code 1975 § 12-19-70 (2022).)

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Alabama?

Alabama has a 30-day waiting period, from the time when you file your complaint, until the court may enter your final divorce judgment. (Ala. Code § 30-2-8.1 (2022).) But as a practical matter, most uncontested divorces take longer than that (though typically not more than about 10 weeks).

How Can I Get More Help With Alabama Online Divorce?

Alabama 3StepDivorce™ provides unlimited e-mail support for customers. If you have any questions about how uncontested divorce works, e-mail our Alabama Divorce Online Help Center at [email protected].

Please keep in mind that we are not lawyers and so cannot give out legal advice. If you have questions about Alabama law or need legal advice, we recommend that you contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.

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