How to File For a Non-Contested, No Children Divorce in Alabama
By Beverly Bird
Non-contested divorce, commonly referred to as an uncontested divorce, does not depend on whether you have children. However, if you don’t have children, this can expedite the process. In Alabama, an uncontested divorce means you and your spouse agree on how to settle all issues to end your marriage. If you don’t have children, custody terms and child support are two less things you have to negotiate.
Meet with your spouse to iron out a marital settlement. If you have no children, your agreement will probably be limited to dividing your marital property and debts. You can also address issues of spousal support in your agreement, if appropriate.
Gather the documents you must file with the court to initiate your divorce. In Alabama, these can vary from county to county, so you might want to begin by calling or visiting the court clerk’s office to determine what your particular area requires. However, all counties require a complaint for divorce to begin the action. You can usually access a form from an online legal document provider, but be sure what you purchase is specific to the state of Alabama. You may also need a sworn affidavit substantiating the facts you include in your complaint as true, a vital statistics form which the court will file with the state after you’re divorced, and a sworn statement from a disinterested third party, attesting you’ve met Alabama’s residency requirements.
Fill out your complaint for divorce. If you’re the one filing, you’re the plaintiff and your spouse is the defendant. The complaint will ask you for the addresses for you and your spouse, when and where you were married, your grounds for divorce, and whether you have a marital settlement agreement. After you complete it, you must sign it in the presence of a notary.
Attach your marriage certificate to your complaint and file your complaint with the court. Your marriage certificate should be a “certified” copy, which means it is an original received from the court, bearing the court’s seal. File the complaint with the Circuit Court in the county where your spouse resides, or in the county where you last lived together. If your spouse does not reside in the state, you can use the Circuit Court in the county where you live. If you want your divorce to proceed more swiftly, you can file a copy of your marital settlement agreement at the same time.
Ask the court clerk for an “acceptance and waiver of service” when you file your complaint. If your spouse isn’t contesting the divorce, Alabama does not require you to formally serve him with a copy of the complaint, but he must agree to this. Ask your spouse to sign the acceptance and waiver in front of a witness, then file it with the court.
If you submit your marital settlement agreement to the court simultaneously with your complaint, a judge can finalize your divorce as soon as 30 days after you file your paperwork.
Provided you and your spouse both live in Alabama, there is no residency requirement before you can file. If your spouse doesn’t live in the state, you must live there at least six months before you can file.
Alabama recognizes 10 fault grounds for divorce. However, if your spouse is not contesting the divorce, it usually makes no sense to use one. If you do, he’d have to agree that he’s guilty of that particular wrongdoing for the court to grant your divorce. Alabama also recognizes two no-fault grounds, irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and incompatibility of temperament. If you use one of these two grounds, no one has to admit any fault; your divorce can proceed uncontested.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.