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Divorce in St Clair County
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Online Divorce in St Clair County
Please note: OnlineDivorce.com in St Clair County, Alabama, is a divorce document preparation service, not a law firm. Online Divorce is not eligible to provide legal advice. All the information below is for informational purposes only.
The state of Alabama provides an opportunity for divorcing spouses to end their marriage in an uncontested divorce as quickly as a legal process would allow. An uncontested divorce may be an option for couples seeking an easy and simple marital dissolution and do not intend to contest child custody, financial issues, and the division of property and debts. The objective is to sort out all divorce-related matters before a final hearing.
However, legal proceedings can be intimidating because litigants need to be aware of the steps and timelines to finalize a divorce successfully. One option is to hire an attorney to assist with the paperwork and keep tabs on the required actions. However, legal fees typically drive up the cost of divorce. Given the ease of completing and filing the divorce papers, many divorcing couples choose to have a Do-It-Yourself divorce without a lawyer.
OnlineDivorce.com has already helped hundreds of divorcing couples in Alabama prepare their divorce documents timely and inexpensively. All you need to do is complete a quick questionnaire, and OnlineDivorce.com will select and fill out all the court-approved printable forms required for your specific case (with or without children). You’ll receive your completed forms within a couple of business days. Just print, sign, and submit the paperwork at the circuit court in the county where either you or your spouse live.
Using OnlineDivorce.com to complete the paperwork and file for divorce in Alabama is an affordable solution if you want to have an uncontested divorce on your own. You save not only your money but time and effort.
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Valid grounds to get divorce in St Clair County
According to Alabama Code Section 30-2-1 — Grounds, divorce can be granted on both no-fault and fault-based grounds. If you do not intend to fault your spouse for the breakdown of the marriage, you either cite ‘incompatibility’ / ‘irreconcilable differences’ or separation of at least two years. Your word is sufficient for the court to grant a no-fault divorce.
Alabama offers several fault-based grounds for divorce. They include:
abandonment for more than one year;
deviant sexual behavior;
alcoholism or drug addiction;
confinement in a mental institution for at least five years;
or the wife’s pregnancy without the husband’s knowledge.
The petitioner will have to prove any fault-based ground in court, so legal representation advised in cases of fault-based divorce.
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Alabama’s child custody policy is expressed in Alabama Code Title 30 Chapter 3 Section 150 — State policy. The court assumes it is in the best interest of minor children to have frequent and continuing contact with parents and encourages parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of raising the children after the dissolution of marriage.
Although joint custody is the court’s preferred choice, consideration is given to the needs and possibilities of each party when determining custody. By factoring in the child’s age and health, the parents’ moral character, availability for childcare, and the safety and wishes of all parties involved, the court makes a ruling on how to share legal custody and physical custody.
However, before making a final determination, the court first reviews parenting plans submitted by each parent to see how they allocate parenting time and visitation. Some parents divide their time with the child 50/50, while some agree on a 70/30 split. Joint custody does not necessarily mean equal custody.
If the parents cannot agree on custody arrangements, or if the court does not approve of their settlement agreement, the judge has the final word.
Also, it is essential to know that parental conduct during the marriage and during the divorce process can affect the determination of custody. The court regards domestic violence, child abuse, severe mental illness, harmful religious practices, and homosexuality as examples of parental behavior potentially detrimental for the child. The grandparents or other relatives can gain custody of the child if the parents are deemed unfit.
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Rules for child support in St Clair County
It is common practice for one or both parents to pay child support after the dissolution of their marriage. As soon as parents apply for child support, they file a Child Support Guidelines form and Child Support Income Statement/Affidavit for the court to know their financial circumstances. The parents can also submit a written agreement to make their suggestions for the amount of child support.
Generally, the court uses the Income Shares Model to calculate the combined income for a family and adjust the amount of child care obligation to the parent’s share of combined income. Typically, the non-custodial parent pays more in child support as the custodial parent already pays their dividend in child care, household expenses, and other costs (see Child Support Guidelines).
In Alabama, child support continues until the child reaches 19 years of age or graduates from high school. Unemployed college students are eligible for child support, but it is up to the parents to agree to support their child past the age of 19. In any case, the court may order the obligation of child support to continue if the child has a disability of any kind.
Rules for spousal support in St Clair County
In Alabama, the length of a marriage is especially crucial for the award of spousal support, referred to as alimony. According to Alabama Code Section 30-2-51 — Allowance upon grant of divorce, if the spouses were married for over ten years, the court may include in alimony up to 50 percent of the retirement benefits of one spouse.
There are many factors that the court considers when deciding on the length and amount of alimony, such as:
the length of the marriage;
each party’s respective earning ability;
each party’s age and health;
each party’s value and type of property;
the conduct of the parties; and
any other factors the court determines relevant.
In deciding alimony, Alabama courts aim to help the financially dependent spouse get training and experience to enter the workforce and support themselves. Therefore, marriages younger lasting less than 12 years rarely include alimony.
Uncontested St Clair County divorce with children
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Property division in St Clair County
In dividing marital property, Alabama uses equitable distribution laws, according to Alabama Code Section 30-2-51 — Certain property not considered. In contrast to many other US states that distinguish between marital and separate property, Alabama includes separate property in the marital assets (commingled property). However, gifts and inheritance remain separate. All separate bank accounts, vehicles, stock, real estate, etc. stay separate. However, if separate money enters a joint saving account, it becomes marital property under Alabama law.
Assessing the value the property and possible tax consequences, the court also considers:
how long the spouses were married;
whether they had previous marriages and children;
whether the spouses contributed to the increased earning capacity of each other;
what kind of job the spouses have;
their age, health, and needs;
sources of income, expenses, and liabilities;
and who the custodial parent is.
The court always considers what the spouses want regarding the division of property and what variant they offer. If it is a reasonable distribution, the judge usually approves it. However, if the spouses struggle to split retirement plans or dispute over the family home, the court may order the parties to hire experts to handle financial issues.
Mediation can help any couple who cannot resolve their differences over custody, support issues, or property division. During a mediation session, a mediator can help a divorcing couple draft a settlement agreement or parenting plan.
In most cases, mediation can drive down the cost of divorce because it resolves conflicts without a trail and expedites the divorce process.
How to file for divorce in St Clair County | Step-by-Step
Check out the requirements for filing. According to the Alabama Code Section 30-2-5 — Residency requirement, either spouse must have been a resident of the state and the county for at least six months before filing for divorce. Make sure you choose the proper venue (the clerk’s office or the circuit court in the county of filing).
Obtain and fill out the court forms. Go to Onlinedivorce.com or obtain the forms from the clerk’s office or the circuit court. Be aware that under Alabama Family Law, there are legal terms for divorcing spouses. The plaintiff is the spouse who files for divorce, and the other spouse is the defendant. To begin a divorce in Alabama, you start with filling out a Complaint for Divorce and Summons. You will need to include your information on child custody, child support, alimony, and dividing assets and debts, so take your time. Also, the forms must be signed in the presence of a notary.
File the court forms. Bring the completed forms to the circuit court in the county where either you or your spouse live and file them with the clerk. The clerk will stamp the copies (you need two of them) and submit the original with the court. Now you can pay a filing fee.
Serve the spouse. Keep one copy for yourself. Serve the other copy to your spouse to inform him or her of a divorce process. The easiest way to serve the defendant is when the spouses agree to an uncontested divorce, and thus the defendant agrees to accept delivery of service. The defendant and a witness must sign the Acceptance of Service, and the plaintiff files a Notice of Acceptance with the court. Among other ways of serving the spouse are certified mail, hired process servers, and service by publication. Each of the serving methods requires a fee. After serving the spouse with the divorce paperwork, he or she shall file an Answer and Waiver and pay a filing fee. The deadline for the defendant’s response expires after 30 days. If the spouse fails to respond, the divorce proceedings will proceed into default judgment.
File with the court the rest of the paperwork. Alabama has a 30-day waiting period from the moment of filing. If you have not yet submitted a parenting plan, financial disclosures, or a settlement agreement, this is the time to do it.
Finalize your divorce. If by this time you have submitted all the required paperwork and everything is correct and in order, the judge will sign your decree of divorce. If something is wrong with your divorce papers, the judge will ask you to correct it.
Offline and inconvenient process with attorney representation for each spouse. Costly attorney
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Filing fees for divorce in St Clair County
On average, to file divorce paperwork in St Clair County will cost $290 for an uncontested divorce without children and $390 for an uncontested divorce with minor children.
Low-income individuals can seek a fee waiver by requesting an In Forma Pauperis form from the court’s clerk. If you qualify, the court will allow you to skip filing fees altogether throughout the whole divorce. Some counties allow plaintiffs to pay filing fees in parts.
How long will it take?
In case of an uncontested divorce in Alabama, 30 days is the minimum time it takes. Regardless of the court’s workload, an Alabama divorce cannot be processed any sooner. However, on average, it takes divorcing couples longer to gather divorce documents and resolve all the issues. Courts can be overloaded too. Generally, expect to finalize your DIY divorce within 6-12 weeks.
Filing for divorce in St Clair County | Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a divorce cost in St Clair County An uncontested divorce in Alabama can range from $500 to $800. The price tag for a simple divorce includes filing fees for each separately filed divorce document, serving fees, and any possible expenses for mediation and experts (appraisers, financial planners, psychologists, therapists, legal counsel, etc.). The overall cost of a divorce depends on how quickly and easily issues such as property, children, and finances can be resolved.
How to file for divorce in St Clair County without a lawyer? It is relatively easy if your spouse agrees to cooperate. You need to get and complete the court forms, citing a no-fault ground. Then file the paperwork with the court and serve your spouse with the divorce papers.
What are the required forms for an uncontested divorce in St Clair County? The primary forms to start a divorce in Alabama are a Complaint and Summons. The list of legal forms for an uncontested divorce with children includes:
Marital Settlement Agreement
Answer, Waiver and Agreement for Taking Testimony
Testimony of Plaintiff
Affidavit of Residency
Request for Divorce Judgment by Default
Vital Statistics Form
Child Support Information Sheet
Child Support Obligation Income Statement/Affidavit
Child Support Guideline Form
Child Support Guideline Notice of Compliance
Standing Pretrial Order
Certificates of Attendance of the Children Cope with Divorce Seminar
Order of Child Support
Withholding Order Payment of Child Support
Notice to Defendant
Instructions for Employer
Answer to Order of Withholding
Can I file for legal separation in St Clair County, Alabama? Yes, Alabama recognizes legal separation. The procedure for legal separation is similar to filing for divorce. The only difference is that the couple remains legally married and cannot remarry.
When is it allowed to remarry after a divorce? In Alabama, there is a waiting period of 60 days before former spouses are allowed to remarry.
Divorce in St Clair County online
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Here is how OnlineDivorce.com makes completing divorce papers easier:
We provide the full divorce packet required by the local court - clients do not need to drive to their local courthouse to get the blank forms or search for the right divorce forms online. In rare cases, local county forms can vary in color, paper material, size, or bar code, so they may need to be obtained directly from the county clerk's office.
We complete the necessary forms for clients based on their answers given in a simple guided online interview - clients do not need to understand family law or read through complicated instructions to figure out how to fill out the forms themselves.
We give detailed, easy to follow step-by-step instructions for filing a divorce with the court - so the client knows exactly what to do to get his/her divorce finalized.
We provide unlimited technical support - if a client needs assistance through the online process, he/she can always reach out to us via phone, email, or live chat, and we'll do our best to help.
We save our clients time and money - if divorcing spouses agree regarding the terms of their divorce, they typically don’t have to pay thousands to a lawyer to handle their divorce forms and don't need to spend hours trying to do it all by themselves.
We guarantee 100% court approval on divorce papers prepared through our website or your money back - we have 21 years of experience in completing divorce forms so clients can be sure the court will accept their documents without issues.
With a contested divorce, spouses will have to go through numerous steps before the divorce is finalized, including:
prepare, file, and serve (deliver) the divorce petition
respond to the petition
interview and hire an attorney
pre-trial legal motions and hearings
settlement proposals and negotiations between attorneys
if settlement fails, prepare for and complete a court trial
appeal, if you dispute the trial judge’s decision(s)
Prepare to pay exorbitant attorney's fees - at least $2000-3000 depending on your case’s complexity.
Hourly rates vary with different attorneys and average $250-300 per hour. In rural areas, attorneys
may charge less. However, if you live in a large city, local attorneys may charge up to $1000 per hour.
At first glance, using such sites may look like an easy way to go, but it may turn into additional
headaches for you. Some of the issues you may experience when dealing with basic online divorce
long processing times - do you like waiting?
inexperienced and poorly-trained customer support
not user-friendly technology
lack of guidance during the process
hidden fees, e.g., for any, even the simplest, revisions
outdated divorce forms causing court rejection
Did you know that some online divorce providers have virtual addresses in the US because they are
based in other countries? No wonder some clients are provided with outdated divorce forms that will
be rejected by the court. The result? Those people lose their time and money because these
unprofessional services do not keep their state forms up-to-date.
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