Frequently Asked Questions About the Legal Process
If I file the initial complaint or summons, do I have an advantage?
In most cases it does not make any difference as far as who will get more support or assets, but it does make a difference in some cases because the one who files has a tendency to have a greater desire for the divorce. The individual who has a greater desire is often times more willing to let things slide by, so he or she will end up giving up more in order to have the process happen quicker. If a spouse leaves town in order to flee the summons there are measures that can be taken to get the divorce proceedings rolling.
Are there advantages to a no-fault divorce?
The one benefit to this type of divorce is the victory does not go to the spouse with the greatest number of complaints. Each spouse is seen as contributing the same amount to the death of the marriage, so a more equitable agreement is possible. One might think that a no-fault divorce is quick and easy, but people always have a tendency to get very greedy till its all resolved.
Are there advantages to an Adversarial Divorce?
Believe it or not, an adversarial divorce is not necessarily a horrible experience. Many people begin to experience greater hatred towards one another, which severs emotional ties that can be very detrimental later on. The fight of an adversarial divorce is also an outlet for pain that otherwise might be held in.
Can you get a divorce if you do not know where your spouse is?
Only if the spouse has made a very good effort to locate the missing spouse and is willing if needed to testify in court under oath that a good effort has been made, then service of process may be made through a publication typically the local newspaper. This is known as Constructive Service.
How are debts obtained during a marriage divided in divorce?
Debts are not uncommon at a time of divorce. Often times this is what may instigate the problems that lead a couple down the road to separation. Most attorneys will attempt to settle the debt disputes in the Marital Settlement Agreement, because it is during the process of divorce that the couple should typically withdraw from all joint bank accounts.
What is an uncontested case?
A divorce proceeding in which there are no disputes as far as the legal issues. Both parties tend to agree on all matters and are typically just ready for the whole process to be over with. Sometimes an uncontested case is caused by a missing spouse or one's refusal to participate.
What is a contested case?
The minute the complaint or summons is filed the case becomes contested, and is contested until all disputes are resolved, such as support, custody, visitation, and division of assets. Many divorces start out with the intent of being uncontested under claims of no-fault, but greed often takes part when disputes over the legal issues take place.
If spouses agree on everything do they need an attorney?
If you are going to have an uncontested divorce and you both agree on everything it is still recommended that you hire an attorney to review the papers and make sure everything seems fair. You may be surprised what happens if you do not. A lot of people end up signing what they thought was discussed but actually was not. The state of Alabama will not allow one attorney to represent both parties due to the conflict of interest.
Can I get more money if the divorce was not my fault?
Most likely not, because the state of Alabama does not weigh in marital behavior when making asset distribution decisions, or awarding alimony.
What does a mediator do?
A mediator may be used if the spouses do not wish to fight in the court room. They choose this alternative to sit down with a mediator that does not make decisions, but instead helps bring the not so clear into reality. The mediator helps the spouse's to understand and express their objectives with the intent to be able to achieve them through negotiation.
What is an arbitration?
It is less formal than a regular court hearing. A panel (normally other experienced attorneys) will hear both sides of the story. Each spouse will have the opportunity to disclose all information necessary to prove his or her claims. Each side must be represented by legal counsel, and the decision reached by the panel is final. The decision is then attached to the divorce complaint to become part of the final divorce decree.
What are pleadings?
The initial formal written complaint or summons that is filed with the court and delivered to the spouse is the first pleading, and the response is the second. The response will either admit or deny the allegations made in the complaint. Basically they are the papers filed to formally put a case before the court.
How are temporary orders obtained?
It starts with a proceeding in which one side will request some kind of relief, such as custody and support, before the final judgment on the divorce has been made. Since the divorce process can be quite lengthy at times, many disputes must be resolved on a temporary basis. Without temporary orders it is very difficult to have somewhat of a normal life during the process. If need be a testimony in court hearings is what will resolve disputes over temporary arrangements, but it is not recommended in most situations to take spiteful unnecessary actions.
What if a spouse does not follow temporary orders?
A petition for contempt will need to be filed and if the delinquent spouse can not show good reason for disregarding the order, then a fine or imprisonment may take place.
How long does it take to get a divorce?
It all depends on how difficult the case is. If it is uncontested and agreements are made very quickly then a divorce may only take a month to a month and a half. If the case is contested it could take over a year.
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