How to File for Divorce in Alabama
It is important for divorcing couples to understand the steps involved in the divorce process. If you want to know how to file for divorce in Alabama, this guide can help. This overview will teach you step-by-step how to complete and file your divorce paperwork and what to do immediately afterward.
1. Check Your Eligibility
If you are a resident of the state, you are eligible to file for divorce in Alabama. However, if you do not live there, your spouse must have been a bona fide resident for at least 6 months. You should file for divorce in Alabama in the county where you lived before you separated, or where your spouse currently lives. If your spouse does not live in Alabama, you can file in the county where you live.
2. Fill Out Papers
Before you can file for divorce in Alabama, you must complete the appropriate divorce forms. The main divorce form that initiates divorce proceedings in Alabama is called the complaint for divorce. You will need to complete this form accurately in order for your divorce to proceed smoothly.
The first section of the divorce complaint will ask you for personal information about yourself and your spouse. You will need to include your names and addresses, as well as the date and location of your marriage.
The divorce complaint must also include your grounds for divorce as well as the relief requested from the court. Usually, spouses use “no fault” grounds when they file for divorce in Alabama, which means that you are incompatible or your marriage has broken down but you are not alleging misconduct. “Fault” grounds include addiction, abandonment, insanity, and adultery, among others, but are rarely used.
Your relief requested may be in the form of an equitable division of property, alimony, child support, or whatever else you believe is fair. You can also ask to revert to your maiden name, if applicable.
3. File Divorce Paperwork
After your paperwork is complete, it is time to file for divorce in Alabama. You can go to your local courthouse and ask to file the paperwork with the clerk of the court. You will generally have to pay a filing fee (although if you are very poor, you may be able to get a fee waiver if you ask at the clerk's office). After paying the fee, you will wait for the clerk to stamp and date your documents and make sure that you have copies for your records.
4. Serve Your Spouse With Papers
As soon as possible after you file for divorce in Alabama, you should make sure to notify your spouse. Typically, you will hire the sheriff's office for a nominal fee to send a deputy to your spouse's home or workplace.
Once your spouse has been served, they will have a limited number of days in which to answer the complaint in writing. If your spouse does not do this, you are entitled to obtain a divorce by default, which will generally give you whatever you asked for in the initial divorce complaint.