Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Divorce
Trusted Divorce Attorneys | Crumbley, Blackwell, Wisda & Associates, P.C.
We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding divorce and family law, please look through the questions below to find one relevant to your situation. In our nearly 50 years of legal experience, we have handled hundreds of cases like yours across Huntsville, Madison, Decatur, Athens, and surrounding areas in North Alabama. Call today at (256) 539-4464 or complete a case evaluation form to speak with an experienced Divorce Lawyer from our office. If you would like to schedule a consultation, the attorney will sit down with you to answer your questions and devise a plan that will protect your rights and best interests throughout the divorce process.
Divorce is a process wherein a married couple seeks to dissolve their marriage. Every divorce is different, but generally will involve the division of financial assets, debts, real and personal property, and sometimes retirement accounts if certain factors are met under Alabama Law, in addition to many other things. If the parties have minor children, custody and child support will also be a factor.
A contested divorce is a civil suit in State Court filed by one spouse against the other. It’s similar in nature to any any other lawsuit, except that the relief sought is the equitable dissolution of a marriage. The process starts when a Complaint is filed by a Plaintiff and then served on a Defendant. The Defendant has to Answer the Complaint, and a process called Discovery takes place where both parties can have the opportunity to ask written questions of the other, request documents, hold depositions, subpoena documents, etc. A Trial date will be scheduled, and the parties can either elect to settle prior to that date, or go fight it out. Each party can subpoena and question witnesses, introduce evidence, and have an opportunity to tell their side of the story. In divorce cases, a single Judge hears evidence in what is referred to as a “Bench Trial." A Judge is charged with ensuring that the Trial results in an outcome that is equitable after she or he is presented with the evidence, and after Trial will enter a Decree of Divorce.
An uncontested divorce is generally much quicker and easier, both on the pocketbook and as it relates to the emotional well being of the parties and their loved ones. Both Husband and Wife agree as to how their debts should be divided, who gets what property, and come to a determination as to child custody if they have children, etc. Usually, either the Husband or Wife will come into the office for a consultation where the process will be explained to them and fill out paperwork to be used in drafting a settlement agreement. It’s important to know that even though a divorce may be uncontested, an attorney can only represent one party and is bound to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the Rules in assisting the client that retains them. The party who does not retain the attorney will not receive legal advice and can sign a waiver or “Acknowledgment of Non-Representation” stating that they understand that the attorney preparing the required documentation represents only their spouse, that they have the right to counsel of their own, etc. Once a Settlement Agreement is drafted and everything is agreed upon, the parties will each sign the Agreement, in addition to other documents. One of the documents is called an “Answer, Waiver, and Agreement for Taking Testimony” and is signed by both parties. It waives service of process, and allows the Settlement Agreement to be submitted to the Court using an Affidavit, which is a document signed by the Plaintiff before a notary public, and does away with the need to appear in Court to testify. Other documentation may also be required, especially in cases where children are involved. Once everything is signed, it is electronically filed. After a Statutory waiting period, a Judge takes a look at everything, and if all is well enters a final decree of divorce without the parties ever having to step foot in a courtroom.
In an uncontested divorce where both parties get along and cooperate in the signing of documentation, the only real concern as it relates to time is the statutory waiting period in place. This is a period of time when the Judge does not acquire jurisdiction to enter a final decree of divorce. If all documentation is drafted correctly, an uncontested divorce generally only takes a period of a couple months from start to finish, but as with everything there can be no guarantees. Judges are incredibly busy individuals who usually enter decrees very quickly, but their ability to do so depends on other cases they may be hearing, etc. However, a contested divorce can take much longer to complete.
An uncontested divorce where both parties agree to the terms of the Agreement with no changes having to be made is the much cheaper route to go. Prices range due to a variety of factors (such as whether the parties have real estate, whether a business is involved, whether Retirement Accounts are involved, whether children are involved, etc.). Depending on the market, an amicable couple who agree to split the equity in a house, have a few cars, take their own debts, have no children and agree to part ways with no changes to an Agreement can expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,200-$1,500 total for their divorce (that amount includes the costs of filing, which vary by County but generally amounts to hundreds of dollars).
Someone going through a contested divorce generally pays much more, and the cost is impossible to guess as the amount of work necessary varies from case to case. If the parties agree to settle quickly as opposed to go to trial, the divorce will obviously cost less. Normally, Divorce and Family Law Attorneys are paid a lump sum upon being hired which is referred to as a “Retainer”. The funds sit in a Trust account, which is like an escrow account where money belonging to clients that has not been earned by the attorney is kept for safekeeping. The attorney will then bill at an hourly rate and transfer funds from a trust account after they are earned.
Would you like a quote for your case? Schedule a consultation today to meet with an experienced divorce attorney who can answer any of your questions and provide you with a quote for your case. Call (256) 539-4464 or complete a case evaluation form online to schedule your consultation.
Restraining and Protective Orders in Divorce Cases
After a petition for divorce has been filed, the court may issue temporary orders that regulate the behavior of spouses while the divorce is pending. A temporary restraining order may be issued by a court without a hearing. This order would be effective immediately and will remain in effect for a short period of time, typically no longer than 14 days unless extended by the court. Temporary restraining orders are used to protect and preserve property owned by spouses until a hearing can be set and held. These orders could prohibit one or both spouses from intentional communication with each other, threatening each other, harassing each other, causing injury to each other, causing injury or harm to involved children, removing or destroying property, and others.
A temporary injunction, which would stay in effect longer than a temporary restraining order, may be issued by a court after each spouse has been notified and a hearing has been held. This injunction imposes similar restrictions as the temporary restraining order, but can remain in effect throughout the legal divorce process. The court may also issue protective orders in situations involving family violence. Protective orders are intended to protect all involved parties from family violence. Family violence is classified as an act or threat by a member of a family against another member intended to to cause harm, or threaten harm. Individuals who violate protective orders are subject to arrest and often jail time. If you or a loved one are in need of a protection from abuse order, contact us today, we can help you.