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
- Meet the residency requirements
- Get your affairs and paperwork in order
- Focus on the kids
- Prepare the initial divorce papers
- 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
- tax returns
- pay stubs
- bank records
- credit card records
- investments information
- life insurance policies
- 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
- 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.