DEFINITION OF AN "UNCONTESTED DIVORCE":
An uncontested divorce is a type of divorce where the spouses can reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce and do not need a trial to make determinations about the division of assets and spousal or child support/custody. Uncontested divorces are less expensive than contested divorces and more move quickly through the courts.
WARNING TO THE READER:
Uncontested divorces can become contested very quickly when spouses begin to disagree on the terms of the divorce. If your uncontested divorce becomes contested, it is a good idea to seek out a lawyer to help you with the now contested divorce. Also, the steps for filing an uncontested divorce is different in each state. This article is only for an Alabama divorce.
In this article, we list the basic steps to get an uncontested divorce in the state of Alabama. After we cover the initial steps we will explain the extra steps and forms needed if there are children involved. Remember, the spouse filing the divorce is called the Plaintiff and the spouse responding to that filing is the Defendant.
FORMS: THE FORMS NEEDED FOR A BASIC UNCONTESTED DIVORCE CAN BE FOUND AT YOUR LOCAL COUNTRY CLERK’S OFFICE AND ARE AS FOLLOWS:
- CS-47: To be completed even if there are no children involved. This provides information about child support.
- Complaint: This is filed with the Martial Settlement Agreement, and asks the court to end the marriage.
- Acknowledgment of non-representation: This is used when one spouse gets an attorney and the other does not. It must be signed by all spouses and be filed at the county court.
- An Answer and Waiver: The Defendant waives the right of service to process. It acknowledges that the spouse has received the divorce papers.
- Testimony of Plaintiff: this is a notarized affidavit by which the Plaintiff certifies grounds for the divorce, that the Defendant is not in the military, and that the marriage is broken beyond recovery.
- Vital Statistics Form (completed): this is the certificate of divorce used for keeping state records.
- Affidavit of Residency: this is a notarized statement by a third-party that states that Plaintiff meets the residency requirements of Alabama.
STEPS FOR AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE:
- Meet Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in the state of Alabama, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state. An Affidavit of Residency will be necessary.
- Gather Necessary Paperwork: The Complaint form is the first step and formally asks the court to end the marriage. After that, you need to put the terms of the divorce into writing. You and your spouse need to agree on the various details of the divorce such as the division of property and assets. File a copy of this agreement with the country clerk. Remember when you file with the county clerk to keep at least two copies for yourself. One of these copies will be served to your spouse if needed. By the end of the process all of the forms listed above will have need to been filed.
- Serve the Divorce Papers: The State of Alabama makes it a requirement to serve your spouse divorce petition papers. Serving your spouse divorces papers can go one of two ways depending on if the spouse is willing to sign the “Answer and Waiver” document.
- If your spouse is willing to sign the “Answer and Waiver” then you can hand the papers to your spouse yourself, or send the papers to them by regular mail.
- If your spouse is not willing to sign the “Answer and Waiver” then you have several options. You can send the papers by first class mail with the waiver included, send a copy be certified mail with a return receipt requested, or you can hire a sheriff or constable to serve your spouse with the papers.
If a spouse cannot be located, and therefore cannot be served, the Plaintiff is required to publish the notice of divorce in the local newspaper for four weeks in a row. After the four weeks, if the spouse still has not responded, then the Defendant is considered served. After serving your spouse the papers, you will need to submit proof of it with the Alabama courts.
HOW TO GET AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE IN THE STATE OF ALABAMA WITH CHILDREN:
The basic steps for filing for an uncontested divorce with children are the same, however you will need to complete and submit several more documents to the court. The additional documents needed to file for an uncontested divorce with children are:
- CS-47 (Child Support Information Sheet): This provides information about child support.
- CS-41 (Child Support Obligation Income Affidavit): This is an affidavit of income that needs to be completed by both spouses.
- CS-42 (Child Support Guideline Form): This documents the child support and how it is calculated.
- CS-43 (Child Support Guideline Notice of Compliance): This documents that the Alabama rules of judicial administration of child support has been met.
THERE IS ALSO A CLASS AND SEMINAR REQUIRED FOR BOTH PARENTS:
- “Transition in Parenting” Class: This is not always necessary, however with a Standing Pre-Trial Order, which prohibits the spouses from harassing one another and removing children from the state may require it.
- “Children Cope with Divorce” Seminar: The certificated of Attendance must also be submitted with the rest of the documents listed above.
WHEN THE COURT ISSUED ANY FORM OF CHILD SUPPORT, A “WITHHOLDING ORDER OF PAYMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT” IS ISSUED AS WELL. WHEN THIS HAPPENS, THE FOLLOWING FORMS MUST ALSO BE COMPLETED AND SUBMITTED:
- Notice to Defendant: This lets them know of the action.
- Instruction for Employer: This informs the spouses’ boss of the payment of the action.
- Answer to Order of Withholding: This sets the order into action.
- An Order of Service and Return
For more assistance with the divorce process, contact your county clerk of court’s office for help with forms needed, procedures, and requirements with your divorce. If the process is too complex or you have additional questions, talk to a lawyer about your divorce. A lawyer can assist you by providing advice, making sure paperwork is correctly completed and submitted, and making sure it is all done in a timely manner. Also, a lawyer is good to have just in case your uncontested divorce becomes contested, which can happen very easily when beginning to debate the terms of the divorce.
If you or someone you know is considering a divorce and you'd like to review your options, please contact the Reid Law Firm today at (334) 319-8225 for a quick answer to any legal question. Chris Reid can be reached by using our contact form. All communication to the Reid Law Firm is protected by attorney-client privilege, so any information submitted will be held in confidence. Initial consultations are always free. For a complete list of our practice areas, please visit our home page.
"Alabama Uncontested Divorce." Divorce Support - Alabama Uncontested Divorce. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.
"How to File for Uncontested Divorce in Alabama." Rocket Lawyer. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.
This article was written by Kaela Carpenter. Kaela is a student at Cumberland Law School. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our firm practices the following areas of law: wills, trust, and estates, divorce and family, DUI and drug offenses (only first and second time offenses), and car accident cases. We also handle business law, including formation of business entities and drafting contracts. Additionally, I co-host Yellowhammer News every Monday during lunch from 11-12 on 101.1 fm Birmingham (but our show is broadcast throughout most of the state).