Alabama is among the states with the highest divorce rate. Unfortunately, these dramatic statistics do not vary a lot from year to year. Still, we have to admit that getting a divorce can become an inevitable necessity for spouses stuck in unhappy marriages.
When saving the marriage is no longer possible, a person starts to wonder how to prepare for the divorce process.
The spouses should be well-organized to make their split as smooth as possible, and it starts with learning how to get divorce papers and complete them.
Let’s consider the process of alabamaonlinedivorce.com, focusing on the available ways of obtaining legal forms.
What Are Divorce Papers?
“Divorce papers” is a rather broad term. So, some people may be uncertain about its meaning.
In general, each dissolution of marriage is unique. The parties may be required to complete various documents through the process, depending on their case circumstances.
However, to apply for divorce in Alabama, each petitioner (the party initiating the case) must file a Complaint for Divorce and Summons. These papers, called initial divorce forms, officially start the proceeding.
The Complaint identifies the parties to the case and the grounds for divorce upon which the dissolution is sought.
Alabama family law recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds. No-fault grounds – incompatibility, irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, and voluntary abandonment – imply that neither spouse is to blame for the marriage split. They are more common and well suited for an uncontested divorce since no proof of fault is required.
Simply put, the petition tells the court what the case is about and what orders the filing spouse wants the judge to make in the divorce case (the outcome). The petitioner must serve a copy of the petition and Summons to the second spouse (the respondent) to notify them that a case has been filed. In some cases, the Summons may also contain the first court appearance date.
The rest of the required divorce forms may vary significantly according to a particular case’s multiple circumstances. The petitioner usually has to file these additional papers after the respondent acknowledges receiving the initial paperwork to the court.
Additional divorce forms may include:
- Affidavit of Residency;
- Testimony of Plaintiff;
- Vital Statistics Form.
If the spouses have minor children of the marriage, they may also need to complete:
- Child Support Guideline Notice of Compliance;
- Child Support Guideline Form;
- Child Support Information Sheet;
- Standing Pre-Trial Order, etc.
Please note: besides the circumstances of the case, the county of filing should also be considered. Some of the templates and forms the spouses need for an uncontested divorce may vary by county in Alabama. The couple can terminate the marriage only in the county where at least one party currently resides.
Getting Papers for Your DIY Divorce
People seeking an inexpensive way to arrange a separation often choose a do-it-yourself route and prepare for divorce without an attorney. They take on selecting and filling out the papers correctly without a lawyer’s assistance. And there are several options of how to do it.
The most affordable way is to visit the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts website and look for the necessary forms. However, the catch is that a person may not completely understand what documents they need. Some legal forms may vary from state to state. As a result, it can take more time to sort things out and complete the divorce paperwork with no mistakes.
Also, a plaintiff can contact their local Circuit Clerk for information on what forms they need in addition to the Complaint and obtain them in the county clerk’s office. Although a Circuit Clerk is not eligible to provide legal advice, they can provide the required papers and help connect you with volunteer attorneys.
This way is cheap but not necessarily fast or comfortable, especially if the plaintiff lives in another county and a process for online interactions between courts and litigants is not available.
And finally, one more option is an online divorce. It can be considered a win-win solution when it comes to preparing for an amicable dissolution.
However, preparing divorce over the internet should not be confused with an application for divorce online. During the divorce document drafting stage, private internet divorce companies come into play. While filing and completing divorce online is possible online via Alabama’s state court system electronic filing (AlaFile), the nature and purpose of these services are entirely different.
Online Divorce Benefits
So, how do web divorce services help you to obtain the needed papers quickly and easily?
After choosing one of the paperwork drafting websites, you will answer a few questions to ensure that case qualifies for an online divorce (usually, there is no problem if the parties do not contest the claim).
Next, you are asked to complete a more detailed online interview, answering questions about your case. These questions relate to the primary data about your marriage, such as:
- information about both spouses
- the marriage date
- income sources
- properties, debts, etc.
and those factors that affect which legal forms must be filed with the court:
- military information
- child custody arrangement
- the spouses’ agreements concerning property division
- spousal support, and more.
The user can fill out this questionnaire at their own pace and pause or make edits if necessary. After the questionnaire is completed, the system can select and fill out the documents using the data provided, Alabama laws, and the court’s requirements.
Typically, the user can receive the ready documents by email within a couple of days, making online divorce one of the most comfortable, effortless, and quick ways to get divorce forms.
As for the online divorce cost, it ranges depending on the company. Still, it is usually less than the court filing fees each petitioner must pay when applying for divorce ($200 – $330 in Alabama).
To sum it all up:
- For a reasonable fee, you can receive a completed divorce paperwork package ready to be signed and submitted to the court.
- This option does not take much time, and some companies offer expedited services.
- The divorcing spouses do not need to worry and learn state laws or trying to find out what papers they need to file in their unique divorce case.
- Legal paperwork can be tricky, but online divorce services allow you to avoid the red tape associated with filling out the forms.
When the divorce forms are ready, the spouses should also write up a Marital Settlement Agreement (if the case is uncontested), where they put all the terms of their separation. This document, containing provisions about the division of property, assets, alimony issues, and any obligations related to children, must also be signed by both parties and submitted to the judge.
After filing all the divorce forms and documents with the Circuit Court and paying a court filing fee, the petitioner has to serve the second spouse with copies of the Complaint and Summons following the Alabama rules of civil procedure.
Once served with divorce papers, the respondent has thirty days to file an answer. However, since Alabama family law requires a mandatory 30-day waiting period after filing the case, even if the respondent answers immediately, thirty days is the minimum time an uncontested divorce can be finalized within the state.