Steps to Start a Divorce

Steps to Start a Divorce

Attorneys Alison Herlihy has been a family law attorney since 2005 and Walter Gewin since 2013–they have the experience to help you make your divorce as painless as possible.

Here are the most common steps to start a divorce and more information on what the process looks like to dissolve your marriage.

Steps to Start a Divorce

  1. Meet the residency requirements
  2. Get your affairs and paperwork in order
  3. Focus on the kids
  4. Prepare the initial divorce papers
  5. Go to Domestic Relations Court (if needed)

Meet the Residency Requirements

You must be a resident of Alabama to file for divorce in Alabama. The time requirements and whether your spouse must also be a resident depends on your fact situation and can be explained in more detail in a consultation with an attorney.

Get Your Affairs and Paperwork in Order

Gather as much information as possible! You will want to have as much of the following information as possible on hand:

  • birth certificates
  • wills
  • deeds
  • tax returns
  • pay stubs
  • bank records
  • credit card records
  • investments information
  • life insurance policies
  • mortgages
  • family trusts
  • employee benefits handbook
  • titles to all vehicles
  • mortgage documents

It is of utmost importance to know your own income and your spouse’s income, what you have, and who and what you owe.

If you are concerned there may be debts you don’t know about, you need to run your credit report to make sure your spouse has not used your information to obtain credit in your name.

Focus on the Kids

You and your partner are getting divorced, your kids aren’t. Keep it civil and don’t involve your children in any disagreements. Get support systems in place for your kids, including letting the school, coaches, and doctors know what is going on at home.

Consider counseling to help your children cope. It can also be good to maintain your children’s regular schedule and activities as much as possible.

Prepare the Initial Divorce Papers

The person filing is considered the Plaintiff, and the person being served is the Defendant. Your papers will include a complaint and a summons, and will list certain factual assertations and a general listing of the relief you are requesting from the Court, including:

  • Separation of Property
  • Alimony
  • Custody of Your Children

If you and your spouse are mostly in agreement on the items above, your divorce can be handled in an uncontested manner, sometimes called a no-fault divorce. The checklist for what is required for an uncontested divorce can be found here on the Mobile County – Thirteenth Circuit Court of Alabama website.

Your family law attorney can help you prepare and file these documents.

If your case must be handled in a contested manner, then your complaint for divorce is filed and your spouse must be personally served. Our attorneys will begin gathering evidence, documents, and interviews supporting your position in a discovery process. After discovery, you and your attorney will begin assessing whether your case can be resolved by settlement or mediation, or whether it is necessary to take your case to trial.

Ideally, most of, if not all terms, can be settled at some point in the process. If an agreement can’t be made during negotiations, those items will be taken to trial where a judge will rule on them as the final resolution. It can take divorce cases an average of 12 months to get to trial. Today, trial settings are significantly slower, and less reliable, due to pandemic.

Mobile Domestic Relations Court

Mobile’s divorce court is called the Domestic Relations Court. Two judges–Hon. Walter H. Honeycutt and Hon. Michael D. Sherman–currently handle all of the divorce proceedings.  All matters are handled through the Mobile Government Plaza. The Domestic Relations clerk’s office is located on the 9th floor and the Courtrooms are located on the 2nd floor.

If you’re getting divorced, Herlihy Family Law is here to help you through the process. Call us at 251-432-7909. Serving the greater mobile area, including Mobile, Saraland, Satsuma, Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort and Foley.  

Divorce Attorney in Mobile, Alabama

Divorce Attorney in Mobile, Alabama

Alison Baxter Herlihy has worked as a divorce attorney in Mobile, Alabama since 2005. She worked at Penelope House after undergraduate school, and this experience of working with parents and children who have experienced domestic violence inspired her to focus her legal career on Divorce and Family Law.  To this day, the focus of Herlihy Family Law is on helping families and children have a better life after divorce.  We pay close attention to issues such as safety, equitable division of assets, and parenting time arrangements that serve the best interests of children.  We strive to provide prompt updates to our clients and to explain the legal process such that our clients feel like informed, active participants in their cases as all times.

With close to half of all marriages ending in divorce, divorce is probably the number one way that most of us encounter the legal system.  Think about it – either you or someone close to you is or will be divorced at some point.  It effects everyone, but it can be a new beginning, instead of just an ending.

Divorce can be devastating for families, but it does not have to be.  The legal system is slow, complicated, and confusing, but here at Herlihy Family Law, we work to make your divorce as painless as possible.

Five Star Review on Google

Five Star Review on Google

We just received another Five Star Client review on Google from a recent divorce client:

Alison is what’s known as a “SME” (Subject Matter Expert) in military terms. If you are Honest, Respectful and follow her sage guidance, you will prevail in court. She is worth EVERY penny. Do your part, and she will definitely do hers. You could not ask for a better attitude.

Alison Baxter Herlihy P.C. Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Alison Baxter Herlihy P.C. Celebrates 10th Anniversary

February 28, 2021 marks the 10th Anniversary of Alison Baxter Herlihy P.C.  These past 10 years have flown by!  We have grown so much over the years.  Back in 2011, Alison rented a one room office at 401 Church Street, but now we have our own building at 1751 Dauphin Street and are a three-person office.  Heather Dennis is our legal assistant/office manager – Heather keeps everything running here efficiently and is our first line of excellent customer service for our clients.  Walter Gewin joined the firm as an Associate Attorney in September 2020 and is already an invaluable team member who helps us serve even more Family Law clients.

I want to personally express how grateful I am to my family, friends and colleagues for their support over the years and to all of my clients for trusting to me to handle some of the most important and sensitive legal matters there are – their families and their children.  Family Law gives you a unique opportunity and responsibility to help people resolve complex changes in their personal lives, and I try to appreciate that every day.  Thank you from all of us at Alison Baxter Herlihy, P.C!  We hope the next 10 years bring continued growth and opportunities to impact our community and serve our clients.

New 5 Star Client Review on Google

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.

Most Common Reasons for Divorce

Most Common Reasons for Divorce

After 15 years of practicing divorce and family law, I sometimes think I have heard it all, but people continue to surprise me.  Although every case is different, we hear a lot of common themes over and over.  The most common reasons I see, ranked in order, for people getting divorced are as follows:

1. Lack of Communication or Common Interests.  This may not be the tabloid fodder you would imagine, but the number one reason I see for people getting divorced is a simple lack of communication or common interests.  I hear clients over and over say things like “we are like roommates;” “we never talk;” and “we have nothing in common.”  This may be the case from the beginning and becomes more pronounced as the excitement of a new relationship wears off.  Others may simply grow apart over time.  We also see many cases where people neglect their marital relationship and devote all of their focus to co-parenting their children, only to realize there isn’t much of a marriage left once your children grow up and leave the nest.

2. Money.  This is a big one!  “Financial infidelity,” which I would describe as lying or secrecy about money and spending is one of the top causes of divorce.  If one spouse is a saver and one is a spender, that is hard to reconcile.  If you get married, only to learn that your spouse has tens of thousands of dollars in debt that they never told you about, that is a pretty big betrayal.  Betrayal about money often bleeds over into other areas as well.  Marriage is a partnership, and honesty and full disclosure about your finances is key.

3. All other “fault” reasons, to include adultery, substance abuse or other addiction, and domestic violence.  

Those of us who have not had personal experience with divorce tend to believe that the vast majority of divorces fall into the “fault” category, where one spouse has done something terrible and the other spouse has no choice but to get divorced, but this simply is not the case.  Most people getting divorced are normal people just like you, believe it or not!  Even if your situation falls into one of these extreme scenarios, you can come out the other side a happier, and stronger person.  I always tell my clients, some people say life is too short, but I say life is too long to live in a miserable marriage.  You have options, and you have the power to make changes in your life.