What to Expect When You Pursue a Contested Divorce in Birmingham

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Divorce is often challenging and can become more complex if both spouses can’t agree on major issues like property division, child custody, and child support.

A contested divorce attorney Birmingham can bring their experience, resources, and knowledge to make sure your goals are met. They will protect your assets as well as ensure your family’s health and happiness.

If your spouse does not compromise, has unrealistic life expectations, or refuses to get a divorce, you may want to pursue a contested divorce, so you can move on rather than waiting for them to come around. Also, this type of divorce can be your only option if your case involves domestic violence. Along with a contested divorce, you also have to seek a protective order.

Pursuing a Contested Divorce

In Alabama, you do not have to list a major reason for a divorce. Rather, you only state that your marriage is not working out anymore. Divorce in the state can be contested or uncontested.

If you and your spouse agree on all major issues in your divorce, then you have an uncontested divorce. If you both work through your disagreements, you can file a Separation Agreement in court that lists every issue you have settled.

Meanwhile, a contested divorce is where you and your spouse can’t agree on at least one issue. Typically, a family judge steps in to make decisions for you in this type of divorce. You need a lawyer who understands the state’s divorce laws and can deliver the outcomes you deserve.

How the Contested Divorce Process Works

Any type of divorce begins with filing a petition for dissolution of marriage in court. When the petition has been served to your spouse, a response should be made within 21 days with the court. Then, you and your spouse must meet to try to work through the major factors in your divorce.

If you cannot reach an amicable agreement, your divorce is considered contested. Your attorney can explain why you should consider meeting with a mediator before you appear at a contested hearing.

If your divorce goes to court, a final order hearing occurs. At this hearing, you and your spouse, along with your lawyers, can present evidence and statements to support your different claims and positions.

Also, the family court will require you to submit a sworn asset statement detailing the related financial information such as assets, debts, expenses, and properties. The judge will evaluate the materials both parties show and decide what’s a fair deal for your divorce case.

Remember that the family court will decide on significant issues such as child custody, property division, and spousal support. Thus, you must know that the official rulings of the court on contested divorce cases are locked unless the legal team of one party challenges the ruling and the court turns it over.

Steps Involved in the Process

Each contested divorce is different. Thus, you must consider talking to a lawyer to understand the specifics of your case. Here are the steps involved in a contested divorce:

  • Identifying areas of disagreement. Before a contested divorce takes place, the first step is to speak with your spouse and identify the settlement terms you do not agree on. For example, maybe you and your spouse want a 50/50 division of custody and parenting time; however, your spouse wants to get more alimony than you want to pay. While some problems have caused tensions throughout your marriage, you may suddenly have areas of disagreements you never expected.

Make sure to have a talk with your spouse about these disagreements before filing a divorce petition. In the petition, you can ask the family judge to make provisions that remain effective until you have reached a divorce settlement.

  • Pick the right dispute resolution method. Despite going through a contested divorce, you can still avoid judicial intervention by resolving your disputes. You and your spouse can still cooperate to find a solution you both agree with.

For instance, consider talking to your spouse about the possibility of mediation. Typically, divorce mediation is a cost-effective option to resolve your divorce issues. Also, this process is more cooperative and friendlier.

Another option is collaborative divorce, which can be ideal if you both want to work together. Often, this process involves an attorney on every side, a mental health expert, or a neutral specialist such as a child advocate or financial expert.

Lastly, even if you are not ready to work closely with your spouse, you can still settle the divorce without going to court. Your lawyer can negotiate for you and going to court must only be a last resort.

  • Get a final judgment. Once you have determined the divorce terms in or out of court, you must get a final judgment, which formalizes the dissolution of your marriage. You don’t need to be physically present in court to obtain the signature of a judge. However, physical appearance may be required in some jurisdictions.

If your spouse does not compromise, has unrealistic life expectations, or refuses to get a divorce, you may want to pursue a contested divorce, so you can move on rather than waiting for them to come around.

Also, this type of divorce can be your only option if your case involves domestic violence. Along with a contested divorce, you also have to seek a protective order.

If you must pursue a contested divorce in Birmingham, contact a divorce attorney as soon as possible. You need an attorney who will sympathize with you and your situation. The best attorney to work with will protected your best interests throughout the process.