Alabama Uncontested Divorce

This information is an overview of the uncontested Alabama divorce filing process and a summary of the divorce papers that are typically filed with the family law or domestic relations clerk. This overview is not intended to be an exact step-by-step guide for those "do it yourself divorce" filers, due to the fact that many cases are unique and the overview presented here is often not the only method of obtaining an uncontested divorce in Alabama.

When one of the spouses is not a resident of Alabama, the filing spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six months before initiating the action. The action may be filed 1) in the county where the Defendant resides, 2) in the county where the spouses resided at the time they separated or 3) in the county where the Plaintiff resides if the Defendant is a nonresident of Alabama.

Grounds for divorce are No-Fault, which is 1) an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, 2) complete incompatibility of temperament such that the spouses can no longer live together, and 3) voluntary separation for more than a year.

General grounds are 1) adultery, 2) living separate and apart without cohabitation for more than two years without the husband supporting the wife, 3) imprisonment for more than two years when the sentence is more than seven years, 4) unnatural sexual behavior before or after marriage, 5) alcoholism, 6) drug abuse, 7) confinement for incurable insanity for over five years, 8) wife pregnant by another man at the time of marriage without the husbandís knowledge, 9) abuse or reasonable fear of physical abuse, 10) lack of ability to consummate marriage.

Actions are filed in the Circuit Court of the county.

The filing spouse is called the Plaintiff; the responding spouse is called the Defendant.

Alabama does not have a summary divorce. It requires specific evidence to support a default judgment, but Acceptance and Waiver of Service is permitted if the form is signed by the Defendant and a credible witness. After filing the Complaint and Summons, a 30-day period must transpire before a judge may issue a final judgment of divorce. In uncontested actions, testimony may be taken by a court clerk, by sworn statements, or in transcripts of oral depositions. In every case in which child support is requested, a standardized Child Support Guidelines form and Child Support Income Statement/Affidavit must be filed.

Depending on the county, there may be some variations in the forms filed for a divorce, but the general procedures are as follows:

To file for an uncontested divorce without children, the Plaintiff must file the following forms:

> A Complaint, which is normally filed concurrently with the Marital Settlement Agreement, and asks the court to end the marriage;

> An Answer, Waiver and Agreement for Taking Testimony, by which the Defendant waives the right of service of process, but demands "strict proof" of every allegation;

> Testimony of Plaintiff, a notarized affidavit by which the Plaintiff certifies grounds for the divorce; that the Defendant is not in the military; and that the marriage has broken down hopelessly;

> Affidavit of Residency, a notarized statement by a third-party attesting that the Plaintiff meets the residency requirements of Alabama;

> Vital Statistics Form, which is a Certificate of Divorce used for keeping state records.

To file for an uncontested divorce with children, the Plaintiff must file the above forms plus these forms:

> Child Support Information Sheet, CS-47, which provides information about child support;

> Child Support Obligation Income Statement/Affidavit, CS-41, an affidavit of income, which must be completed by both spouses;

> Child Support Guideline Form, CS-42, which documents the calculation of child support and by which child support is calculated;

> Child Support Guideline Notice of Compliance, Form CS-43, which documents that the Alabama rules of judicial administration for child support have been met;

> Standing Pre-Trial Order, which prohibits the spouses from harassing one another and removing children from the state and which may mandate the "Transition in Parenting" Class, which must be attended by both spouses;

> Certificates of Attendance of the Children Cope with Divorce Seminar, which is required of both parents.

Generally, when the court issues an Order of Child Support in any action, a Withholding Order Payment of Child Support is immediately served also. The following forms must be completed and filed when the Withholding Order Payment of Child Support is served:

> Notice to Defendant, which puts him or her on notice of the action;

> Instructions for Employer, which informs the employer of the spouse paying support of the action;

> Answer to Order of Withholding, which sets the action in motion;

> An Order of Service and Return.

When a spouse cannot be located, the Plaintiff must publish a notice of the divorce in a local newspaper for four consecutive weeks, after which the Defendant is considered to be served.