What Is Divorce Litigation in Alabama?
First, let’s get a grip on what divorce litigation in Alabama means. Divorce litigation involves a court-based process where a judge makes the final decisions regarding the dissolution of a marriage. The journey starts with one spouse filing a Complaint for Divorce in the proper jurisdiction. The spouse initiating the divorce is called the plaintiff, and the other spouse is the defendant.
Types of Divorces in Alabama
In Alabama, divorces typically fall into two categories: uncontested and contested.
This type of divorce occurs when both parties agree on all major issues, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Uncontested divorces usually are faster and less costly since they do not require a trial. The parties may draw up an agreement on their own or with the help of a mediator or lawyer. This agreement details the terms of their divorce and becomes part of the final divorce decree.
A contested divorce happens when the parties cannot reach an agreement on one or more major issues, requiring a judge to make the final decision. Contested divorces are typically more complicated, require a longer time to resolve, and often result in higher legal costs.
What Should I Expect in an Alabama Litigated Divorce?
After the plaintiff files the complaint, the defendant has 30 days to respond. This leads to the discovery phase, where both parties gather evidence to support their positions. A trial follows if a settlement is not reached during or after discovery. A judge will hear both parties, evaluate the evidence, and issue a final divorce decree.
Divorce litigation is not the only way to resolve a damaged marriage. Ideally, couples should attempt to settle their disputes amicably or reconcile. They can also divorce with the aid of alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or collaborative divorce. However, when disputes over child custody, alimony, or property division persist, litigation might be the best course.
How Long Does it Take to Litigate Divorce?
The duration of divorce litigation in Alabama can vary significantly. The length of the divorce proceedings depends on several factors, including:
- The complexity of the relevant issues,
- The cause of the divorce,
- The amount of property owned by the couple, and
- The level of cooperation (or lack thereof) between the parties.
Other factors include the court’s schedule and the time needed to gather and analyze evidence.
On average, contested divorces may take six months to over a year to finalize. However, the process is usually significantly faster if the divorce is uncontested. Alabama law requires a “cooling-off” period of 30 days from filing the divorce complaint before a divorce can be finalized. That means the parties in an uncontested divorce can typically take care of matters within one or two months.
Benefits of Divorce Litigation
Although it requires financial and emotional resources, divorce litigation offers several benefits.
- Fair Outcome. Divorce litigation ensures a fair distribution of assets to each party. The court accomplishes this equitable division by assessing several factors, including each party’s contribution to the marriage, future economic prospects, and the length of the marriage.
- Protection of Rights. Litigation protects each party’s rights by giving each one an opportunity to explain their point of view and petition the court for relief. This aspect is especially important in contentious domestic abuse cases or when a significant power disparity exists between the parties.
- Definitive Judgment. Unlike other methods, divorce litigation brings a sense of finality. The judge’s decisions on property division, child custody, and alimony are binding, so there’s no room for ambiguity.
- Enforceability. Court decrees are legally enforceable. If a party fails to adhere to the divorce decree, they can face penalties or sanctions.
Thus, divorce litigation offers benefits in certain, but not all, circumstances. It’s best to consult a qualified divorce attorney to discuss your best options.
Want to Know More? Contact Us Today.
We hope this overview was helpful. But it’s important to remember that every divorce case is unique. Therefore, it’s vital to seek professional guidance tailored to your circumstances.
Charlotte Christian Law is a trusted Alabama law firm that handles the complete range of family law matters, including divorce, child custody, and alimony issues. Our dedicated and experienced legal team goes the extra mile to win. Our goal is to make today better than yesterday for our clients.