How To File a Complaint For Divorce in Alabama

complaint for divorce and how to get started

Some couples do not realize that seeking a divorce involves filing a legal complaint against a spouse. A divorce complaint asks the court to order the legal dissolution of the marriage. The terms of the divorce decree may also include court orders for alimony, child custody, or child support.

Filing a divorce complaint is a difficult step for many people, regardless of whether they are seeking an uncontested divorce or facing a contested divorce. Having the guidance of a trusted divorce attorney at Leigh Daniel Family Law can make the process go more smoothly.

Alabama is a no-fault divorce state. Couples can obtain a divorce without having to prove either spouse was to blame if they can agree on all the issues. In an uncontested divorce, the complaint is primarily a statement of the terms of the divorce being sought by the divorcing marital partners who have agreed on all issues ahead of time. The complaint will state that the marriage is broken down and that it is not in the parties’ best interests to continue trying to fix it.

In a contested divorce, there are issues in dispute, such as the division of assets and debt or a request for alimony, that must be resolved. The spouse filing the complaint may assert some sort of wrongdoing, such as adultery, abandonment, or emotional or physical abuse, to support their claim. Once the complaint is filed, the other spouse has the right to respond to the assertions within the complaint and make their own pleas for relief.

Contents of a Complaint for Divorce

A person seeking a divorce in Alabama must file a divorce complaint in the Circuit Court of the county where one or both spouses live. The complaint notifies the court and the other spouse of the grounds for the court to grant the divorce. In Alabama, individual counties sometimes have specific filing requirements unique to the county. An individual filing for divorce must always determine what other steps may be required. A family law attorney who handles cases in the local court system can help.

In addition to stating identifying information for both parties to the marriage, the complaint must specify whether you are filing for divorce based on fault or no-fault grounds and confirm that you or your spouse has been a resident of the State of Alabama for at least six months. One of you must have resided in Alabama for six months to obtain a divorce in the state.

In an uncontested divorce with no minor-age children and no assets or debts for the court to divide, the complaint for divorce may be filed on a Complaint, PS-08 form.

In other cases, the complaint for divorce will require more detail and several more forms. In addition to stating that one spouse meets the residency requirement, it will state a legal ground for divorce and address issues such as dividing marital assets and debts, child custody, child support, and alimony.

Other required forms include the Testimony of Plaintiff, PS-09, in which the petitioner certifies the reasons for the divorce and asserts that the defendant isn’t in the armed forces, an Affidavit of Residency confirming residency, and a Vital Statistics Form, used for record-keeping purposes.

In a contested divorce, the plaintiff will state his or her demands for relief regarding alimony, child support, and division of marital property. These demands should be reasonable and backed by evidence justifying them.

If the divorce is uncontested, the parties sign a Marital Settlement Agreement, which states that all issues raised in the complaint have been resolved.

If the divorcing couple has underage children, the couple must also complete and file:

  • Child Support Information, CS-47, which identifies the parents, their children, and dates of birth, residences, and places of employment.
  • Child Support Obligation Income Affidavit, CS-41, which states the parties’ employment and nonemployment income and the cost of any health insurance coverage for the children.
  • Child Support Guideline Form, CS-42, which documents the calculation of child support based on the monthly adjusted gross income of each parent, percentages of combined income, and insurance costs.
  • Child Support Guideline Notice of Complaint, CS-43, which is signed by both parents and documents that the Alabama rules of judicial administration for child support have been met, or why they have not been met.
  • Standing Pre-Trial Order, which orders the spouses not to harass one another or remove children from the state. The court may require either or both parents to attend the Transition in Parenting class.
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Filing a Complaint for Divorce in Alabama

You file the divorce complaint in the office of the Clerk of Court for the Circuit Court of the county where you or your spouse resides. The Clerk keeps a copy of the signed complaint and returns a copy with a date stamp and notation showing that it has been filed with the court.

After the complaint has been filed, the spouse seeking a divorce must arrange for the other spouse to be served with a copy of the complaint. The complaint may be delivered to the defendant in person, by certified mail, or by publication if the defendant cannot be located.

Get Help Filing for Divorce in Alabama

In many cases, filing for divorce can be complicated and require a lot of paperwork. It is the contents of your divorce complaint that counts. You need a skilled Alabama divorce lawyer who can review your case and develop a sound legal strategy to seek the outcome that you want for yourself and your family.

At Leigh Daniel Family Law, our experienced divorce attorneys take the time to understand your goals in seeking a divorce and work to help you make positive changes in your life. Huntsville family law attorney Leigh Daniel has more than 20 years of experience helping clients resolve the issues involved in a divorce. Our legal team is ready to protect your rights in even the most complicated contested divorce. To find out how our team can help you, call us for a consultation or fill out our form today!