Contested Divorce Attorney Leigh Daniel Can Help You Create a Better Ending for the Next Chapter of Your Life
Unfortunately, the process of getting a divorce can be made more complicated when both spouses are not onboard. You may have grounds for divorce but are unable to determine where your spouse currently lives. You may have found your spouse, only to discover that he or she refuses to sign the paperwork. Or you may both agree that it’s time to end the marriage, but you are unable to come to an acceptable resolution on issues of alimony, division of assets, or matters related to your children.
Although a contested divorce can be extremely stressful, there is hope. The experienced and compassionate Huntsville contested divorce lawyers at Leigh Daniel Family Law can help you through the contested divorce process:
- Navigate the complicated Alabama divorce process.
- Protect your rights, particularly regarding assets and children.
- Resolve thorny issues with special attention to details.
- Feel confident that you can get through this difficult time.
With more than 20 years of family law experience, Huntsville family law attorney Leigh Daniel is focused on helping residents in Huntsville and throughout Northern Alabama resolve their issues in contested divorces. Our skilled legal team prides itself on providing personalized attention, superior customer service, and strategic solutions to your problems.
Alabama Contested Divorce Case
An Alabama divorce is “contested” when one or both parties either fight the divorce itself, or when they cannot agree on a key part of the divorce. A divorce where both parties agree on all key issues is an uncontested divorce.
The main reasons a divorce may be contested include:
- One spouse cannot find the other. One person wants to file for divorce but doesn’t know where to find the other spouse to start the process.
- One spouse fights the divorce. When a spouse won’t sign divorce paperwork or wants to keep working on the marriage, the process can become contested quickly.
- The spouses cannot agree on how to split their marital assets and debts. Who should get the house? The car? The retirement accounts? The pets? Alabama law provides guidelines, but the division of specific assets (and debts) is often left in the hands of the divorcing individuals. When you cannot agree, the process can grind to a halt.
- The spouses cannot agree on alimony. Alimony, or “spousal support,” is money one spouse pays to the other. Usually, it is used to maintain a lower-earning spouse’s standard of living until that spouse can manage without it. Naturally, alimony can be a highly contested issue – whether you expect to pay it or expect to receive it.
- The spouses cannot agree on child support, visitation, or custody. Determining where the children will live, who will make major decisions regarding their needs, how often each parent will see them, and what amount needs to be paid to help cover their daily needs can be difficult and complex. Many contested divorces focus on these key issues of developing a child custody agreement or determining child support.
The contested points in any divorce depend on the specific facts and events in that situation. Some divorcing couples agree on nearly everything but get “stuck” on one specific issue. Others find themselves arguing every single point.
At Leigh Daniel Family Law, our experienced Huntsville contested divorce attorneys will help you navigate a path through your own “sticking points” to seek a resolution that meets your goals. And if your spouse refuses to compromise or reach a reasonable agreement, we will fight aggressively for your rights in court.
How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in Alabama?
The time it can take to go through a contested divorce can vary widely. Once a case is filed it is assigned to a Judge. The Judge’s schedule will determine when the case is set. The case will be scheduled according to the oldest case. Accordingly, the time varies from six months to well over a year to eighteen months. Inevitably, cases will get rescheduled and continued as other cases have priority or circumstances arise in cases. If you have a contested case, the looming months may cause enormous stress. The good news is there are other ways to resolve a contested case. Settlement and mediation are both options that can resolve cases much sooner than a trial date.
How long your case will take depends on the issues to be discussed and how willing each party is to work toward a solution given that the waiting period is only 30 days, meaning that you can obtain a divorce decree after four weeks approximately if any dispute can be resolved during that period.
Because the spouses must work through one or more particularly “hot topics,” such as alimony payments, a contested divorce often takes longer than an uncontested one. Generally, the parties will need time to collect all the facts and ensure both sides have access to all the information. This could include:
- Formal court documents known as “interrogatories,” in which each side answers specific questions posed by the other side.
- Requests to produce certain documents such as financial records.
- Depositions, in which a person appears at a specific place and time – often, an attorney’s office – to answer questions under oath. That person’s lawyer, the lawyer for the other spouse, and the lawyers of any other interested parties are also present to ask questions at the deposition. The testimony given at the deposition is treated as part of the divorce case’s formal record and may be used at court or in motions that ask the judge to take specific actions.
It’s important to have an attorney who is thorough and efficient to keep your contested divorce proceedings moving forward. At Leigh Daniel Family Law, our Huntsville contested divorce attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients, whether that means putting our foot down on child custody issues or pushing the other side to stop dragging their feet.
Will We Have to Go to Court for an Alabama Contested Divorce Case?
Most divorces in the state of Alabama, even contested ones, do not have to go to trial. That’s because, with the help of skilled attorneys, many couples are able to reach a settlement agreement out of court.
Many contested divorce cases benefit from going through a process known as “mediation.” During mediation:
- The spouses meet with their respective lawyers and a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator – whom the spouses can choose – typically has training and experience in family law. However, it is not the mediator’s job to make choices for the spouses or to require them to accept any particular decision.
- The mediator focuses on helping the parties find a “middle ground” that they can both agree to. In other words, the mediator’s role is to turn a “contested” issue into an “agreed-upon” issue.
- If there are many “points of contention” in a single divorce, the spouses can schedule more than one mediation session. This allows them to focus on one issue per session, which can make it easier to come to an agreement.
- If the spouses cannot reach an agreement at mediation, they are allowed to proceed to trial on the contested issue.
Some judges will require a divorcing couple to go through mediation before they go to trial. Other couples choose to go to mediation on their own. Mediation is often more cost-effective than trial, and it allows the divorcing spouses the chance to come to their own decision on important issues, rather than relying on the judge to make a choice that may not fit their needs or their children’s needs.
Our Contested Divorce Lawyer Will Help You Reach a Favorable Outcome
When you spot trouble ahead in a contested divorce, you don’t have time to waste. You need a skilled Huntsville contested divorce lawyers who can quickly review your case and develop a strategy to achieve the outcome that you want for your family. At Leigh Daniel Family Law, our experienced legal team will go above and beyond to protect your rights in even the most complicated contested divorce proceedings.
To learn more about how we can help you during this difficult time, contact us today using our form or by calling us!