WAR Law- Divorce Lawyer Birmingham AL
My name is Wendy Allison Reese. I have been a Birmingham Divorce Attorney since 1999. My law firm, The Law Offices of Wendy Allison Reese, LLC, “WAR Law”, divorce lawyer Birmingham AL, is committed to assisting you in resolving your divorce in the most efficient, least stressful manner possible. We offer a free 30 minute consultation to all new clients. You can call us right now by clicking on the telephone number(205) 402-2009 if you are browsing on your smart phone or you can also complete our contact form located here.
There are two main types of divorce in Alabama, contested and uncontested. A contested divorce is a divorce requiring discovery, court appearances and possibly litigation. An uncontested divorce is a divorce where both spouses agree to all terms including property division, alimony, child custody, child support and visitation. A divorce can start out being uncontested and progress to a contested divorce. A contested divorce can start out contentious but after a period of time, both spouses may decide to settle without a trial. Also, a contested divorce may enter into mediation in an attempt to resolve some or all of the issues pending between husband and wife.
There are numerous grounds for divorce, however irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and incompatibility of temperament are by far the most common reasons a husband and wife tend to divorce. These are fancy ways to say that a husband and wife simply no longer get along and wish to terminate their marriage. These two grounds for divorce are what are commonly referred to as “no fault” divorce.
The “fault” based grounds for divorce include adultery, imprisonment in Alabama or any other state for two years with a sentence of seven years or longer, the commission of the crime against nature, either before or after marriage, becoming addicted after marriage to habitual drunkenness or to habitual use of opium, morphine, cocaine, or other like drug, insanity for five years in a row, incapacity from entering into the marriage, or a husband may be granted a divorce when his wife was pregnant at the time of marriage, without his knowledge or agency, and domestic violence.
After we have discussed uncontested and contested divorce options with you and fault and no fault options, we will begin by drafting a document called a Complaint for Divorce. This will be the first document filed with the court and will be the document that initiates the divorce proceeding. It must contain at least one of the above grounds for divorce. The grounds for divorce must be substantiated by evidence or testimony, otherwise the court may dismiss your divorce case. In an uncontested divorce situation, testimony is often taken by affidavit which is then submitted to the court. At WAR Law, we are well versed in the type of testimony and evidence that is required for the court to grant you a divorce whether your divorce is uncontested or contested.
In order for the court in Alabama to have jurisdiction to hear your divorce case, one or both of the parties to a divorce case must have resided in the State of Alabama for six months before the filing of the Complaint for Divorce. If this requirement is not met, it is likely that the court will dismiss your divorce for lack of jurisdiction.
Keep in mind that divorce cases are reliant on the facts in each case, but most cases follow a similar path. As stated previously, a divorce case is commenced with the filing of a Complaint for Divorce. Once the Complaint has been filed, the Defendant (the party not initiating the case) must be served with a copy of the Complaint. Service upon the Defendant can be perfected in several different ways which we will discuss with you during your initial consultation. Once the Defendant has been properly served, he or she will have 30 days within which to file an Answer to the Complaint for Divorce. If the divorce is contested, once the Defendant files his or her Answer, the court will set the case for trial. The trial may not be set for several months depending on the court’s docket. It is reasonable to expect that your case may be continued at least one time from the original trial date, but it is important for you to be prepared to go to trial nonetheless. It is imperative that you assist us in helping prepare your case for trial by providing all documents, evidence, witnesses and witness statements in a timely fashion. Promptly assisting us in obtaining witnesses, trial exhibits and all evidence, will help ensure a more favorable outcome for your case. Also, please understand that we have no control over the court’s docket and the court hears numerous cases every day. All of the judges we practice before, are committed to ensuring that their cases are set and resolved as quickly as possible.
In most contested divorces, you should be prepared to answer discovery. Discovery typically consists of interrogatories, which are questions answered under oath. In addition to interrogatories, most discovery requests ask for you to produce certain documents that your case relies upon or that you plan to use at trial. You will have to respond to these requests quickly and it will be up to you to compile these documents and provide them to us. Typically in contested divorces both sides will make discovery requests. Also, another common discovery tool used in contested divorces are depositions. A deposition is where you, your spouse or a potential witness is examined by the attorneys on the case, under oath, before a court reporter. Depositions typically occur in the office of one of the attorneys on the case. After all discovery is completed, we will schedule a meeting with you to review your spouses evidence provided during discovery, your evidence and analyze the merits of your case. If we receive a settlement offer from your spouses attorney, that will be communicated to you immediately. If no settlement is reached, your case will then proceed to trial. The judge will listen to the testimony and evidence presented by both sides and then will typically “take the matter under advisement” and issue an order within a few weeks. It is important to understand that most divorce judges in Alabama do not make their ruling immediately after trial. One the judge issues the order, you will officially be divorced unless the order is appealed. You or your spouse will have forty-two days within which to file a Notice of Appeal with the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals if the outcome is not favorable to either party. If the final judgment of divorce is not appealed, on the forty-third day after entry, the judgment becomes a final order.
An uncontested divorce proceeds in much the same way as outlined above. Instead of serving the Defendant, usually the Defendant accepts service of the Complaint which is noted by a document filed with the court. Typically the parties have previously determined how assets and liabilities will be divided and have come to an agreement. Also, the parties to an uncontested divorce have usually decided the issues of child custody, child support and alimony. If you are seeking an uncontested divorce, WAR Law will provide you with our extensive uncontested divorce questionnaire which has been developed over the 15 years we have been doing uncontested divorces. We ask that you completely answer each and every question on our questionnaire. Doing so will assist us in preparing your documents in the most expedient manner possible. Once we receive your completed questionnaire, we will begin drafting your Marital Settlement Agreement. This document is your contract with your spouse defining how your marital estate will be disposed of as well as the custodial arrangement, parenting agreement, visitation schedule, and child support arrangement for any minor children. The court will except most agreements entered into by the parties except for certain custody arrangements. WAR Law is well versed in the type of agreements that the court will accept and make sure that yours is well drafted. Once the court has received all of the documents necessary to complete the uncontested divorce, we will submit a proposed Final Judgment of Divorce which will include, among other things, the adoption of the Marital Settlement Agreement into the Final Judgment of Divorce. It is important to note that a divorce is only uncontested if both parties agree to all terms of the settlement such as property division, child custody, visitation, child support and alimony.
Alabama recognizes legal separation but a legal separation is not a divorce and will not become a divorce unless the parties actually proceed to file a divorce action in the Domestic Relations Court. Sometimes a legal separation is advisable if the parties wish to live separately and divide property but for religious reasons or to maintain health insurance benefits a divorce is not practical. WAR Law can advise you if you and your spouse are seeking a legal separation and we can draft all of the documents necessary for your legal separation.
As stated above, divorce matters are fact specific and it will be your responsibility to relate those facts to us. We expect that our clients will be truthful and forthcoming with all facts and information relevant to their case even if those facts are not the most pleasant. We will treat your matter with the delicacy, respect and confidentiality that it deserves. We cannot do our job effectively if potential clients withhold important and relevant information from us and it will effect the outcome of your case. WAR Law will provide you with copies of all documents filed on your behalf, documents filed by your spouse and relevant correspondence. It is your duty, if you become our client, to keep a copy of all documents pertaining to your case.
At WAR Law we understand that these times of change can be stressful, emotional and unsettling. We will do our best to help you navigate the legal system with ease.