Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces in Alabama
In cases where you cannot locate your spouse, cannot reach an agreement, or have more complicated needs regarding how custody and assets are handled, an uncontested divorce may not be available to you. You can learn more about the differences between contested and uncontested divorces and, if you’re entering a contested divorce, the Divorce Worksheet is a good place to take stock of everything. We can also help you find a lawyer for a contested divorce.
Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce
If you meet the requirements for uncontested divorce, the last important factor that impacts whether a divorce can be uncontested is whether “fault” is an issue. Alabama recognizes both fault and no-fault divorce. In more common no-fault divorces neither spouse assigns blame (or the fault) to the other and is not required to prove fault in court.
The no-fault grounds for divorce in Alabama are:
- Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
- Voluntary abandonment
The fault grounds for divorce in Alabama are:
- Incapacitation from entering into the marriage state
- Habitual drunkenness or use of drugs
- Incurable insanity
- Pregnancy of the wife by another man at the time of marriage
- Domestic violence or abuse
- Living separate and apart from the other spouse for two years
If you or your spouse seeks a “fault” divorce, you should probably speak to an attorney.
Steps for an Uncontested Alabama Divorce
1. Meet the Residency Requirements
To be eligible for a divorce in the state of Alabama, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state and the court selected to file in must have personal jurisdiction over at least one spouse.
2. Prepare your Initial Divorce Papers
Under Alabama law, the spouse filing the divorce papers is called the “Plaintiff” and the spouse responding to the papers is the “Defendant.”
Divorce in Alabama begins with the following documents, which can be found at your county clerk’s office:
These documents are the initial divorce papers and formally request a divorce from the state court. They will outline the nitty-gritty of the divorce you’re requesting: terms surrounding who gets what, spousal support, and what will happen to any children.
3. Settlement Agreement
You’ll need to put the terms of your divorce in writing. To be uncontested, you and your spouse should agree about the division of shared property, assets, and obligations related to any children in writing. You can use our Divorce Settlement Agreement to outline the terms of your divorce for the court. Make sure to file a copy with the county clerk.
4. File your Initial Divorce Papers at your County Court
File your papers with the county clerk. Give the clerk the original signed document and keep two photocopies for your files. Keep one copy for yourself, the other will be served to your spouse if necessary.
5. Serve your Spouse Divorce Papers
Alabama requires you to serve your spouse with divorce petition papers.
If your spouse is willing to sign an “Acceptance and Waiver of Service” acknowledging that he/she has received the papers, you may hand the papers to your spouse or send them by regular mail. Don’t forget to include the Acceptance of Waiver of Service form and have your spouse sign.
Otherwise, you will need to serve your spouse with the initial divorce papers in a different manner. You may (1) send the forms by first class mail, with acknowledgement, (2) send a copy by certified mail, return receipt requested, (3) hire a sheriff, constable, or private process server to serve your spouse with divorce papers.
6. Submit Proof of Service to the Court
Alabama courts will need to know that your spouse received their divorce papers.
7. Complete Additional Divorce Forms
- “Vital Statistics Form”
- “Affidavit of Residency”
- “Testimony of Plaintiff”
- “Child Support Guideline Notice of Compliance”
- “Child Support Guideline Form”
- “Child Support Obligation Income Statement”
- “Child Support Information Sheet”
- Certificates of attendance of the Children Cope with Divorce seminar
- “Standing Pre-Trial Order”
Unfortunately the State of Alabama does not offer a website with forms or further assistance regarding the divorce process. For additional assistance you can contact your county Clerk of Court’s office to determine any additional forms needed, the local procedures, and requirements regarding divorce.
If the process for an uncontested divorce in Alabama feels complex or if you have any questions, it may also be a good idea to talk to a lawyer.