Is a Couple Obligated to Reach a Mutual Divorce Agreement in Alabama?

Undoubtedly, divorce is easier when both parties agree that it is the right thing to do and they come to terms on issues that must be resolved. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. There are many potential reasons why one spouse may not want to get divorced. But in Alabama, this does not prevent divorce proceedings from moving forward.

You can divorce your spouse in Alabama without their consent. A woman can divorce her husband without his consent. A man can divorce his wife without her consent. This is known as a contested divorce. It is more complex than an uncontested divorce, but it happens every day.

The experienced Huntsville contested divorce lawyers at Leigh Daniel Family Law can help you obtain a divorce, whether it is contested, uncontested, or if your spouse cannot be found. We’ll help you navigate the complicated Alabama divorce process while protecting your interests regarding marital assets, child custody, and support payments.

Divorce Without Consent in Alabama

Alabama is a no-fault divorce state. This means a married couple may divorce without attributing fault to either spouse. Still, the spouse who files for divorce must state the grounds for the divorce, such as:

  • The marriage is irretrievably broken down
  • Spousal incompatibility
  • Voluntary separation for more than a year.

In an uncontested divorce, in which each party consents to the terms, a couple can obtain a divorce decree within two months of initially filing divorce papers.

Divorce without consent is not that quick or simple. Sometimes, the spouse filing for divorce does not have the other spouse’s consent because the other spouse cannot be found or will not cooperate. If a spouse does not respond to a divorce complaint within 30 days, the person filing for divorce can petition the court for a divorce by default.

A divorce by default is sometimes called a divorce by publication. When the other party cannot be located, the spouse seeking the divorce runs an ad in a local newspaper publicly announcing their divorce complaint. If the respondent spouse does not answer within a certain period of time, the court will grant the plaintiff’s complaint, and the couple is divorced.

What is more common is that a divorce without consent is an actively contested divorce. That is a potentially stressful process, particularly if you do not have strong legal representation. Huntsville divorce attorney Leigh Daniel and her team take a firm stance to protect the rights of her clients.

The Contested Divorce Process in Alabama

A divorce is considered contested if one or both parties cannot agree to resolve the issues necessary to conclude the divorce. Issues that spouses typically contest include:

Some couples fight about everything. Others get stuck on one or two issues. In many cases, working out the issues in a contested divorce depends on the skill and creative problem-solving ability of the attorneys involved.

At Leigh Daniel Family Law, our experienced Huntsville divorce attorneys can help you work through the contentious issues in a contested divorce. Our primary focus will be on protecting your rights and interests, particularly your financial interests and your access to your children. We want to help you get through the divorce process as quickly, efficiently, and effortlessly as possible.

But if a couple cannot come to an agreement and their case must go to trial, this extends the divorce proceedings for months, if not a year or more, and puts decisions in the hands of a judge.

Preparing for trial typically requires:

  • Demands from each side to the other to produce certain documents such as financial records.
  • Interrogatories, in which each side must answer specific written questions posed by the other side.
  • Depositions, in which spouses and potentially others answer questions under oath. Lawyers for each spouse and lawyers for any other interested parties may also ask questions at a deposition. Testimony given at a deposition becomes part of the formal record and may be used in court or in motions that ask the judge to take specific actions.

If the divorcing spouses and their attorneys cannot move proceedings to the agreement, the family law judge hearing the case will often order mediation to try to avoid a trial. Some couples choose mediation on their own.

During mediation, the spouses and their respective lawyers meet with a neutral third-party mediator who focuses on helping the spouses work toward an agreement. A mediator may schedule a series of sessions so the couple can focus on topics in dispute one at a time. Lawyers can advise their clients during the mediation process.

Mediators are specially trained and are often experienced. Spouses who reach an agreement have a separation agreement to present to the court. Spouses who cannot resolve all of their issues at mediation must proceed to trial, where a judge will decide the contested issues.

The judge’s decisions and any previous agreements the couple has made will be set down as a judicial order that dissolves the marriage and imposes terms on the former spouses for alimony and child support. The divorce decree carries the weight of the law.

Contact Our Alabama Attorneys for Further Professional Assistance

If your spouse will not cooperate with your plans for divorce in Alabama, you need a skilled Huntsville contested divorce lawyer who can review your case and develop a strategy to achieve the outcome that meets your wishes for yourself and your family. Our experienced legal team at Leigh Daniel Family Law can ensure your desires are met, and your rights and finances are protected in even the most complex contested divorce proceedings.

Contact us today through our case consultation form or at (256) 551-0500 to learn how we can help you.


A respected Huntsville family law attorney with more than 20 years’ experience, Leigh Daniel is known for her positive attitude and her skills in the courtroom. She prides herself in the care and compassion that she and her team put into every case. Her goal is to instill a sense of confidence in her clients so they know success is on the horizon. As an author, inspirational speaker, coach, and founder of Project Positive Change, Leigh stays focused on the positive impact she can make on every client’s case.