Dealing with divorce during the holidays can be a challenge for you, your family, and your children.
At Herlihy Family Law, we’ve walked with many clients through divorce, custody, child support over the holidays. We’ve pulled together a few helpful tips, thoughts, and encouragement based on our experience.
After going through a divorce or re-marriage, many changes can take place. Making things work for a new blended family does come with tests, but they do not have to be difficult. With the holiday closing in a blended family may run into a few challenges. These challenges can be countless, but they do not have to be terrible.
For most children the holidays are happy, fun and exciting. Children are on a break from school, and the holidays serve as a time to see friends and relatives and enjoy special food and family traditions. For some children, however, the holidays can be stressful and confusing. When parents are newly divorced, the holidays often remind children of what has changed in their lives. Although things have changed, it is important to make sure that both the children and the parents have peaceful holidays.
If I get divorced, would I be able to get alimony? Could I have to PAY alimony? These are some of the most common questions we get from clients who are getting divorced.
The purpose of alimony is to maintain the lifestyle of a financially dependent spouse after a divorce. Alimony is based on both the dependent spouse’s need and the paying spouse’ ability to pay. If both you and your spouse are gainfully employed and self-supporting, then your case is not an alimony case.
There have been some big changes in Alabama’s alimony statute over the past few years. Our statute currently provides that, if alimony is appropriate, then rehabilitative alimony is strongly preferred after a divorce. Rehabilitative alimony lasts for a specific period of time after the divorce and is designed to help the financially dependent spouse get back on their feet so they can be self-supporting in the future. Our current law provides that rehabilitative alimony shall only be paid for up to five years following the divorce, absent exceptional circumstances.
If the court finds that rehabilitative alimony is not feasible or if the parties have been married for more than twenty years, then the Court can award periodic alimony, which is does not have a set termination date. If the parties are married less than twenty years, then the alimony cannot be of a longer duration than the length of the marriage.
The other big change regarding Alabama’s alimony law just became effective July 1, 2022. In years past, alimony has always terminated if the receiving spouse gets remarried or cohabitates with a member of the opposite sex. Now, the law provides that alimony terminates upon remarriage or cohabitation with any individual and defines cohabitation as:
two adults dwelling together continually and habitually in a private heterosexual or homosexual relationship, even if the relationship is not solemnized by marriage, evidenced by the voluntary mutual assumption of those marital rights, duties, and obligations that are usually manifested by married individuals, and which include, but are not necessarily dependent on, sexual relations.
Ala. Code 30-2-55 Termination of alimony upon remarriage or cohabitation (Code Of Alabama (2022 Edition)).
If you are already divorced, these recent changes could affect your receipt of or obligation to pay alimony. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss further.
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 onuncontested divorce andcontested 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.
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.
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:
credit card records
life insurance policies
employee benefits handbook
titles to all vehicles
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
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.
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.
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.