Alabama Divorce Attorneys – Free consultation
If you are going through a divorce, or considering it, you are probably worried about your future. I understand that divorce is difficult and that issues such as child custody and support, and property division can cause you a great deal of anxiety. As your lawyer, part of my job is to help you understand the process and come out of your divorce in the best position possible.
Alabama family law attorneys represent clients in family law matters such as divorce. They also represent individuals facing legal issues that often surround divorce such as distribution of marital assets and debts, child custody and visitation, child support, and alimony. They also represent clients in adoptions, paternity and enforcement [contempt of court] cases.
Understanding the Divorce Process in Alabama
When it’s your life that will be affected by the outcome of a divorce, you need a lawyer who will listen to you. As your lawyer, I will learn as much as possible about you, your spouse, your children, your finances, and most importantly, your goals.
No attorney can promise an outcome in a divorce settlement. I will be honest with you and never promise a result that isn’t realistic. No one going through a divorce needs false promises. You need to hear the facts on child custody and support, and all other issues, so you can know what to expect. As my client, I will also need you to be honest with me so that I can protect your interests.
Complex Divorce & Disputes
When you decided to get divorced, or learned your spouse wanted to, you probably thought: “How will we ever divide our property and our lives?” People accumulate significant property and funds together, even after only a few years. They may have children and have started businesses together or have debts that need to be dealt with.
If being divorced is best for you, or simply inevitable, you will have to divide your property. I can help.
High-asset Divorce Cases in Alabama
I limit my practice to family law. I also deliberately limit my caseload. I have the knowledge, experience and time to dedicate to your case.
I have handled cases of complex and high-asset divorce for clients in Birmingham and surrounding areas where the parties have serious disagreements about child custody and the desire to relocate, and cases where there had been spousal abuse. Every couple is different and has a variety of possessions. Future income in the form of royalties on a creative work, ownership of art, second homes, and even horses may be owned together.
How do I know if my divorce is a complex case?
In cases of modest estates, where no children are involved, divorce can go smoothly. If yours does not seem likely to go smoothly, talk to me. I can explain what is likely to happen and help ensure that you are treated fairly and handle the litigation if that is in your best interest.
Divorces are made more complex by:
- Business ownership
- Common debts
- Children from the marriage or a previous marriage
- Tax planning
- Existing premarital agreements
- The desire for privacy
If we are able to settle the divorce without a trial, you will be spared a great deal of time and the publicity of private and intimate details. Trust me to resolve your complex and high-asset divorce ably and professionally.
Custody and Support in Alabama
As difficult as it can be for parents to resolve child custody issues, it is even more difficult for a judge who does not know you or your family. For this reason, Alabama courts encourage families to decide parenting time issues for themselves. Going to court is a last resort — and often a costly one.
As a divorce lawyer who represents family law clients in the Birmingham area, I will work very hard to help you reach a settlement of child custody and visitation issues. I will also explain how child support is calculated in Alabama and ensure that it is calculated appropriately in your case.
How does child custody work in Alabama?
There are two types of child custody in Alabama. Legal custody is the right to make major decisions for your child. Physical custody is where your child will live the majority of the time.
In many cases, legal custody is shared between the parents. However, one parent will usually have primary physical custody, meaning that the child will live with that parent most of the time while the other parent has visitation. It is rare for one parent to have sole legal and physical custody, and you would need a compelling reason to deny the other parent reasonable visitation rights.
If the parents cannot agree on a custodial arrangement, then the court will order a custody evaluation using experts such as psychologists and licensed clinical social workers. The court will base its custody decision on the child’s best interests.
Does Alabama have Child Support Guidelines?
Alabama has a set of guidelines that are used to determine the amount of child support to be paid each month. The guidelines consider the income of each party, the number of children, the cost of medical insurance and the cost of any daycare expenses. Alabama’s guidelines have recently been modified, and now apply to couples whose gross month income is $20,000 or less (the previous limit was $10,000).
Alabama’s Child Support Guidelines can be found here: www.alacourt.gov.
Do I have to pay child support?
Please be cautioned that there are many factors and variables that are taken into consideration in a child support calculation and a “do-it-yourself” approach is not likely to lead you to an accurate amount for any potential child support obligation. That is one of the many reasons why it is so important to have an attorney familiar with the law as it relates to child support help you with your case.
Visitation in Alabama
In cases of divorce, Alabama courts can grant visitation rights to the noncustodial parent, grandparent, or other appropriate party to a child under arranged times and durations. Depending on the circumstances, a variety of situations can be arranged to accommodate the needs of all parties.
How does visitation work in Alabama?
If you are going through a divorce in Alabama and have a child or children, you and your attorney can work out a solution with the judge and other parties to arrange a schedule and circumstances of visitation. The court will usually allow the parents to work out their own “reasonable visitation” schedule to be approved by the judge. This allows the parents to be flexible to fit visitation times, dates, and durations into their schedules. If a party is not cooperating, sometimes it is necessary for the court to create a fixed visitation schedule. In a fixed visitation, the court details the times and places in which a noncustodial parent can visit a child. This can be more restricting to some parties, but it also removes the unbalanced control of one party and also gives the child a consistent and predictable schedule in what is most likely a difficult time for them.
Are grandparents and pets allowed visitation in Alabama?
Alabama laws regarding grandparent and pet visitation can be complicated. It is best to contact an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
How can I prevent abuse by my ex-spouse during visitation?
If there is a history of abuse in your marriage or relationship between your ex-spouse in child, this is obviously a concern you want to address. It is best to be completely honest with your attorney so appropriate action can be taken with the court such as requiring any visitation to be supervised by an adult other than the custodial parent.
Spousal Support in Alabama
Spousal support (also known as maintenance or alimony) is an emotional issue in divorce. Since a spouse’s bad behavior can be a factor in whether or not alimony is awarded in Alabama, it can also be a highly contested issue in court.
If you are facing divorce in the Birmingham area, I offer a no-obligation initial consultation for a minimal fee to discuss your situation and let you know whether alimony is likely to be an issue in your divorce.
When Is Spousal Support Awarded in Alabama?
Unlike child support, Alabama courts do not have guidelines that can tell you when spousal support is provided and how it is calculated. Instead, the courts use several factors, such as the length of the marriage, the recipient’s ability to earn a living, the other spouse’s ability to pay, and whether one of the parties engaged in improper behavior during the marriage. Different lawyers and different judges can interpret these factors differently. You need a lawyer who can build a strong argument based on the facts of your case.
What Types of Spousal Support Are Available?
There are several different types of spousal support in Alabama, including:
- Temporary alimony to pay mortgage expenses, attorney fees and other expenses while your divorce is in process;
- Rehabilitative alimony that continues for one or two years while the person receiving it prepares to enter the job market;
- Periodic alimony that may continue for a longer period of time or until the recipient remarries; and
- Lump-sum alimony which provides a single payment in lieu of monthly payments.
Alimony is usually taxable income to the recipient and tax-deductible for the person paying it. You will need to consult with your tax advisor for specific information regarding your situation.
Do I have to ask for temporary alimony when I file for divorce?
Yes, the court will not award temporary spousal support on its own if you file for divorce in Alabama. Usually the court is asked to order the parties to continue to pay support and obligations in a similar manner as before the divorce was filed.
Birmingham Divorce & Investment Division Lawyer
If you are treated unfairly during your divorce, this only adds to your worries and perhaps causes anger. As part of your divorce and property division, your investments must be divided.
The first thing to do is to gather records of what you own jointly. These may include:
- Stock Options
How do I handle asset division in my divorce?
I urge you to be honest and avoid hiding assets or spending accounts you both own. If your spouse is doing so, find out; you may be able to get a restraining order. If the divorce has already been filed, the court will scrutinize any financial transfers.
If you have valuable jewelry or other collections, it may be best for you to put them in a safe deposit box. You may want to cancel any commonly held credit cards. Don’t feel bad; you are sparing your spouse the temptation of taking advantage of the situation.
How are investments split in a divorce?
Investments can make a divorce and asset division much more complicated and require specialization of the law.
You should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. I can uncover hidden assets and advise you on how to protect yourself and avoid getting into trouble with the court.
What happens to Retirement Benefits in Alabama Divorce?
Your ex is entitled to part of your pensions and other retirement accounts. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a court order notifying the administrator of the plan about an “alternate payee,” that is, the ex-spouse of the “participant,” in whose name the account is. The order establishes the percentage that will be paid to each spouse, and when it will be paid.
How are Taxes handled in Alabama Divorce?
In dividing up assets, I pay careful attention to the potential tax effects you might not have considered, even though I am not a tax attorney, nor do I give tax advice. Investments that have appreciated may have a tax liability that makes the split less than fair. I frequently refer my clients to a tax professional for a full evaluation of the tax implications of any divorce agreement.
Mediation in Alabama
If you are going through a divorce in Alabama where all parties are civil and trying to make the divorce procedure as efficient as possible, mediation may be a good solution. Serving as an alternative to traditional divorce litigation, in divorce mediation a “mediator” facilitates the two parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement in matters of property distribution and child custody. A divorce mediator does not impose a solution on the parties but rather assists them in creating their own.
Can my divorce be mediated?
Divorce mediation is a more informal and flexible process in addressing the needs of both parties, and is often less costly both financially and emotionally compared to traditional litigation. If you are preparing for or going through a divorce in Alabama and think your circumstances may benefit from a divorce mediator, it may be worthwhile to contact an attorney capable of divorce mediation.
How do I find a divorce mediator or attorney to settle a divorce in Alabama?
An attorney with a focus on family law is capable of serving as a mediator in your divorce case. If you are going through a divorce in Birmingham Alabama or a surrounding area and think you may want divorce mediation, it is best to contact an attorney and explain the specific details of your situation. Divorce can be a very difficult process, and hiring an attorney capable of executing a smooth divorce mediation can save you vast amounts of money and emotional strain.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
Divorce doesn’t have to be a lengthy and expensive process. I represent clients who want to have an uncontested divorce with minimal or no attorney involvement.
Since Alabama offers no-fault divorce, there is no need to create issues where none exist. I may be able to help you get divorced quickly, economically, and without the emotional distress that can come from a contested divorce when the circumstances indicate that is in your best interest as my client.
Do Both Spouses Need a Lawyer to Get Divorced in Alabama?
If you and your spouse have agreed how to divide marital assets and debts, and have worked out a parenting plan for your children, you may not need two attorneys. In this situation, I can facilitate an uncontested divorce on a flat-fee basis. While ethically I can only represent one party, if everything is agreed upon, I can facilitate the paperwork and Alabama court filings necessary to obtain a divorce.
Even if you and your spouse are in agreement now, you still need to put your agreement in writing so that both sides will honor that agreement in the future. A parenting plan needs to spell out child custody, visitation and support rights, since those issues could be difficult and costly to resolve later if you have a dispute.
Can I get an uncontested divorce in Alabama?
It is rare to find spouses who can agree on every aspect of divorce–and those cases are the only truly “uncontested” divorces. By asking you questions, I can help determine if you have thought of the issues that need to be resolved. If you are in Birmingham or a surrounding county, contact us to schedule a consultation.