A divorce might be the hardest thing you will ever go through. We would like to share some of the things we’ve seen and heard from our experiences. Oftentimes, there are many expectations around divorce, and we will assist you from start to finish. We want you to understand everything about your situation so that you are aware and better prepared.
First, there are some residency requirements within the state of Alabama that must be met before applying.
If both parties are residents in Alabama, a divorce can be filed at any time. If the main party filing for the divorce is a resident of Alabama and the other spouse lives in another state, the main party must have been a resident in Alabama for over six months before applying.
Contested vs. Uncontested
If the spouse agrees to the divorce and signs the agreement paperwork stating that they agree to all of the terms, this is known as an ‘uncontested divorce.’ In an uncontested divorce, nothing is filed with the Court until both parties have signed the agreement and other required paperwork.
If the spouse refuses to sign an agreement, that is known as a ‘contested divorce.’ A contested divorce begins by filing a Complaint for Divorce and having the opposing party personally served. Your case will then eventually be set for trial, but the majority of cases still settled out of court without a trial, even if they start out as contested.
If you have a trial, both parties present their evidence, and the Judge makes a decision about all issues in the case. You can check out more information on uncontested divorce and contested divorce here.
Issues to be Addressed in a Divorce
Last, if there are assets involved such as properties or other finances, out-of-court meetings may be necessary to resolve these or, if needed, in-court hearings or trial. This also goes for custody and visitation of mutual children, child support, and spousal support, if applicable.
We here at Herlihy Family Law are dedicated to making divorces as smooth and painless as possible. From child support, child custody contested divorces, and uncontested divorces we are with you every step of the way. Divorces can be easy. Contact us now by phone or email to book an appointment and start your divorce process sooner rather than later.
Alabama’s Child Support Guidelines have been amended, effective May 1, 2022, incorporating significant changes to the prior child support guidelines. Some of the most important key changes are as follows:
- All of the support amounts have increased.
- The cap for the maximum combined family income for both parents is now $30,000 per month instead of $20,000 per month.
- The guidelines take into consideration which parent is paying all or part of both health insurance and work-related child care, essentially giving that parent a credit for same; whereas the old guidelines only credited the parent who pays health insurance.
- The new guidelines include a subsistence-level self-support reserve amount to insure that paying parents who are below a certain income level still have income left to pay for their own basic needs.
Whether you have a pre-existing child support order, a divorce decree, or subsequent modification order, these changes to the child support law could potentially result in a decrease or increase of the child support amount from your prior order.
If you would like to discuss a possible child support modification, contact our office for a consultation.
When you are in the midst of a divorce, it can be hard to know which way is up or to keep your bearings. Take a deep breath! For now, you need to keep your wits about you and remain grounded. Avoid these common pitfalls as you navigate the process and take steps towards establishing your new life. (You can see our divorce attorney services here).
1. Letting Your Emotions Lead Your Financial Decisions
Don’t text or email your partner angry. A sharp tongue is not going to win you any favors with your soon-to-be-ex. It’s better to keep communication just to the necessities right now around your shared responsibilities. The old adages that anything you say can be used against you and think with your head and not your heart ring true for a reason. A divorce is like a business transaction. A journal is a much better place for documenting transgressions and letting out anger, and it makes for a good record for later.
2. Expecting a Big Windfall Right Out of The Gates
Two households now must exist on the same income that used to support one. If you were the primary breadwinner in your family, expect to pay child support. However, once you are single, you can begin to control the budget a little more and start to use your income at your own discretion.
3. Fighting About Things You Don’t Care About
If it doesn’t matter to you, let it go. It‘s tempting to spite your spouse by fighting over petty things, but it distracts from more important matters and could cost you legal fees. On the other hand, don’t take a passive role in your divorce or assume it’s all being handled. You need to take an active stance and fight for what is important to you.
4. Not asking your spouse for all pertinent financial records or hiding assets.
Collect as much documentation as you can before your divorce starts. Obtain copies of tax returns, bank statements, wills, loans, credit card statements, deeds to property, car registration, business policies, and insurance policies.
If all assets are not properly disclosed, your divorce could take months longer as your case goes through the discovery process.
5. Starting a Business or Make a Big Purchase
Consult with a divorce lawyer before starting a business or making a major purchase. If you use marital income or assets to finance your business or make a major purchase, you may complicate assets that must later be divided during divorce.
6. Spreading the News Around Town
If possible, skip the big Facebook posts and make a private announcement to friends and family instead. Some people take it a step further and wait to announce the split until the divorce is finalized. Remember, social media posts can be used against you in divorce proceedings, and proceed with caution before you badmouth your ex publicly.
7. Involving The Kids
Keep your kid’s life as close to normal as possible. It will save your kids unnecessary heartache, and you will fare better in court.
8. Not Obtaining Quality Legal Advice
You don’t need to navigate this process alone. If you have questions on the best way to proceed with your separation, Herlihy Family Law is here to help you through the process. Call our divorce lawyers at 251-432-7909. Serving the greater mobile area Mobile, Saraland, Satsuma, Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort, and Foley.
Family Law is an area of law that deals with family matters and domestic relations such as divorce, child support, child custody, adoption, termination of parental rights, petitions for protection from abuse, alimony, pre, and post-nuptial agreements, and more.
It can also include other forms of family affairs such as:
- Grandparent Rights
- Health Care Directives
- Name Changes
- Parent Relocation
- Power of Attorney
- Protection from Abuse (PFA)
- Spousal Support
Helpful Terms to Know Around Family Law
There is a lot of legal jargon so we’ve broken down some of the terms you’re most likely to come across.
Legal custody is when a parent is responsible for making decisions about the child’s health, education, and overall welfare. Joint and sole custody are options for legal custody as well.
Physical custody is known by many for who the child lives with. Physical custody means that one parent has been granted the primary responsibility for the child’s day-to-day care. Those responsibilities include providing the child with food, shelter, and safety. In this instance, the child resides at one parent’s home the majority of the time.
Legal Separation A Legal Separation and a divorce are almost identical in the fact that the procedures are the same. Child custody and support can be awarded, and assets and debts will be divided in both; however, at the end of the Legal Separation process, you remain married to your spouse.
Divorce settlements generally focus on three things: marital property division, alimony and support, and child custody and support.
Collaborative Law is a method of alternative dispute resolution wherein the parties commit to resolving their dispute out of court. Because parties to a divorce often need to have a continuing relationship due to co-parenting of children, Collaborative Law is ideally suited to divorce and other family law matters.
Uncontested Divorce refers to a divorce where the parties do not go to court, and the divorce is submitted solely on the parties’ written agreement.
Guardian ad litem In Alabama, a GAL is an attorney appointed by the court to represent the “best interests” of the child or children involved. A GAL’s duty is not necessarily to advocate for what the child wants, which can sometimes be opposed to what is in the child’s best interests. The Guardian Ad Litem will often be asked to present a recommendation to the Court for consideration after the case. While the Court will consider the GAL’s recommendation, the Court is not bound by what the GAL recommends.
Mediation Mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution where a third-party neutral, typically a lawyer, facilitates a settlement agreement in your case.
Tips from A Family Lawyer
We have years of experience as family lawyers. With that, we’ve been able to create helpful video resources for people looking for more information on how to navigate divorce. Here are a few of our most popular videos that answer questions you may have.
People are often tempted to DIY or Google their way through a separation, but it’s worth consulting with a lawyer to see how they might be able to assist you. It may be more straightforward and affordable than you think.
We have found that the DIY divorce websites our clients use are not always in compliance with local laws. Furthermore, the judges and clerks at the Mobile Domestic Relations Court are themselves legally obligated not to give you legal advice, so there is no one to turn to for specific questions about your case, unless you hire a lawyer.
We can provide that much-needed legal advice and next steps. We’re here to help you get a fresh start and provide support during a traumatic period whether or not you and your partner decide to split ways. If you’re even contemplating a divorce, call us, and we can share the next steps and guide you through what that process might look like for you.
Reasons to Hire A Family Lawyer
A lawyer is an added layer of protection during contentious situations. You can communicate critical decisions and requests through your lawyer and remove yourself from the heated part of the argument. This is especially helpful if the situation is high conflict and very escalated. A lawyer can work with you to create a parenting plan that meets your family’s unique needs and isn’t a boilerplate web form. They have years of experience on what has worked well for other clients and what hasn’t worked so well so you can avoid crucial mistakes. When it comes to arranging summer break, vacations, and holiday time, this insight can prove invaluable.
You can let the lawyers handle some of the more challenging aspects of the separation and keep the focus on the interactions you and your partner do need to have. Your lawyer will be your best line of defense and protection if there is abuse or if you are being bullied or coerced into agreeing to something not in your best interests.
What Our Clients Say
“(Herlihy Family Law) was the strongest and most competent legal team I could ask for. As a father fighting for custody, I was intimidated going into this battle. From the very first phone call with Alison, I am positive I made the right decision. The entire team at Herlihy Family law helped me through my child custody case. They were always thorough, honest, hard-working, quick to communicate with me through every step and take action when needed. All information was presented to me in a factual and realistic manner without any fluff. My voice was always heard and valued. I am so thankful that I chose them and because of this team, I was awarded everything we were fighting for. I completely recommend Herlihy Family Law for anyones case.” – Dwayne McLain
We just received this new 5 star client review on Google:
I went through a long and difficult contested divorce with no minor children. Alison and her team were so good at advising me throughout the process. They were patient and understanding with any issue I had. If I had questions or concerns, Alison was able to answer and put me at ease. She has a gift for being the right balance of firm and compassionate. In preparing for trial, she was knowledgeable, skilled and thorough. I would recommend her and her team to anyone for any area of family law.