In an uncontested divorce, both spouses mutually agree to end their marriage and resolve important matters without going to trial. One crucial aspect of filing for divorce in Alabama is understanding the grounds for divorce. Grounds for divorce refer to the legally acceptable reasons recognized by the court for dissolving a marriage. In this blog post, we will provide you with a clear and easy-to-understand explanation of the grounds for divorce in an uncontested divorce in Alabama.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is a type of divorce where both spouses agree to end their marriage and have no disputes over important issues such as property division, spousal support, and child custody (if applicable). This type of divorce can be less time-consuming and cheaper than a contested divorce because there are no legal disputes to settle in court.
Alabama recognizes a no-fault ground for divorce, which means that neither party is required to prove wrongdoing or blame the other for the breakdown of the marriage. In an uncontested divorce, a no-fault ground is commonly cited. The following are two no-fault grounds for divorce:
- Irretrievable Breakdown: Also known as “incompatibility,” this ground signifies that the marriage has suffered an irreparable breakdown, and there is no reasonable hope of reconciliation. Both spouses agree that the marriage is beyond repair, and they wish to end it amicably.
- Separation: If the spouses have been living separately and apart for a continuous period of at least two years without cohabitation, they can cite this ground for divorce
Grounds for Divorce in an Uncontested Divorce in Alabama
A fault-based divorce means there is a legal, evidence-based finding of fault that caused the marriage to end. Legal grounds for fault are far more strict than the informal definition of fault. For example, your spouse might be done with the marriage and stop putting in the effort, which might seem like it would be their fault the marriage ended. However, this would not be considered a fault in the eyes of the law.
Some fault-based grounds in Alabama include:
- Adultery: If one spouse can demonstrate that the other engaged in voluntary sexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse, it can be grounds for divorce. However, proving adultery may not be necessary in an uncontested divorce when both parties agree to proceed with a no-fault ground.
- Imprisonment: A spouse can seek a divorce if the other spouse has been sentenced to imprisonment for at least two years with a total remaining sentence of seven years or more.
- Abuse or Cruelty: When one spouse can provide evidence of physical or mental abuse, cruelty, or violence, it may serve as grounds for divorce. However, it’s important to prioritize personal safety and seek appropriate legal advice and protection in cases of abuse.
Resources and Steps for Filing an Uncontested Divorce in Alabama
Hire an easy divorce attorney: Even though an uncontested divorce can be less complicated than a contested one, it is still important to hire an attorney to guide you through the legal process.
Gather all necessary documents: You’ll need to gather essential documents such as your marriage certificate, financial records, and other relevant documents.
File a complaint: This step involves filling out and submitting paperwork to the court.
Serve the complaint: The spouse who files the complaint must serve it to the other spouse by a sheriff, a private process server, or through certified mail.
Wait for the response: Once the complaint has been served, the other spouse has 30 days to respond.
Negotiate and sign settlement agreement: If both parties agree on all aspects of the divorce, they can sign a settlement agreement, which outlines the terms of their divorce.
Attend final hearing: The couple must attend a final hearing where a judge will review and approve their settlement agreement.
In an uncontested divorce in Alabama, the grounds for divorce primarily revolve around a no-fault basis, such as irretrievable breakdown or separation. This allows both spouses to amicably end their marriage without assigning blame or proving wrongdoing. While fault-based grounds like adultery, imprisonment, or abuse exist, they are less common in uncontested divorces.
It is crucial to consult with an experienced family law attorney when considering an uncontested divorce to ensure you understand the applicable grounds and meet the legal requirements. An attorney can guide you through the process, help draft the necessary documents, and ensure that your rights and interests are protected.