When a marriage is irretrievably broken and each spouse is ready to part ways with the other, dealing with the legal process of divorce can feel burdensome. Indeed, while the parties are free to live apart and separate as soon as they like, they will not be officially and legally divorced in the eyes of the state until the divorce process is finalized. How long this process takes depends on a number of factors and can vary greatly on a case-by-case basis.
Factors that Influence the Timeline of an Alabama Divorce
There are numerous things that can slow down the divorce process. In fact, a divorce could take anywhere from 30 days to a year or more to finalize. The following factors can have a major impact on the timeline of an Alabama divorce:
- Residency. In order to file for a divorce in Alabama, either the petitioner or the respondent must be a resident of the state. If the defendant is a non-resident, then the other party must have been a resident for at least six months before the divorce can proceed. Therefore, if you and your spouse are newcomers to the state of Alabama, you’ll need to wait at least six months before you can even file for divorce.
- Fault vs. no-fault grounds. Another factor that may influence the amount of time it takes your divorce to finalize is that of the grounds on which you file for divorce. Alabama permits both fault-based and no-fault divorces. Grounds for a fault-based divorce includes incapacity, habitual drunkenness, adultery, violence in the marriage, abandonment, mental illness leading to institutionalization, imprisonment for at least two years, a crime against nature, or unrevealed pregnancy at the time of marriage. A no-fault divorce, on the other hand, can be pursued based on the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or incompatibility. While there may be an advantage to filing for a fault-based divorce depending on your circumstances, typically, no-fault divorces are much faster as you will not have to go through the process of providing evidence of and proving fault.
- Contested issues. Regardless of whether you are pursuing a fault or no-fault divorce, you and your spouse must come to an agreement about certain issues before the divorce can be finalized. To be sure, the issues of property division, alimony, child support, and child custody must be settled before the court will finalize your divorce. If your divorce is uncontested–meaning that you and your spouse agree on all issues in the divorce–then the process will be quick. If the divorce is contested, though, reaching settlement could take multiple weeks or months. If your case goes to litigation, the process will be even longer.
- 30-day waiting period. Finally, note that even if you and your spouse agree to a no-fault divorce and you are in agreement about all issues in the divorce and you both maintain Alabama residency, there is a still a 30-day waiting period from the time that you file your petition for divorce and the time the divorce will be finalized.
Working with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Can Help
While some of the time limits surrounding your divorce, such as the 30-day waiting period, may be unchangeable, there are things that you can do to speed up the divorce process and finalize your divorce more quickly. One of those things is working with an experienced Alabama divorce lawyer.
Your divorce lawyer will help you by handling all paperwork on your behalf, explaining to you the differences and benefits and disadvantages of fault vs. no-fault divorces, helping you to understand on which issues to compromise, representing you in mediated sessions or negotiations with your spouse, and representing you in litigation if necessary. More than just speeding the process along, though, your attorney will ensure that your best interests are fully protected throughout.
Call Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short, LLP Today for a Consultation For representation during your divorce, call the experienced Alabama divorce lawyers at the office of Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short, LLP. We offer high-quality legal representation and have years of experience working on divorce cases. To schedule your initial consultation, please call our law firm directly at (334) 821-3892, visit our Auburn office in person, or use the intake form on our website to send us a message.