It is surprisingly easy to file for divorce by your self in Alabama. This is assuming, of course, that both parties want the divorce to happen, and are in general agreement as to the terms of the divorce.
Instructions to Divorce in Alabama Without a Lawyer
The first step is to obtain the following forms: the Alabama Complaint for Divorce, the Affidavit of Testimony in Support of Decree (Must be Notarized), and finally the Civil Cover Sheet. The partner who is initiating the divorce fills them out, and files them with you county’s Circuit Court Clerk’s Office. He or she must also pay a filing fee of $324. The filling partner must send copies of these completed forms to his or her spouse, along with an additional form called the Answer, Waiver, and Agreement for Taking of Testimony – the other partner’s signature assumes the court that he or she has read and understood the first three forms.
If you have minor children, there are four other forms that must be filled out, they are: the Child Support Obligation Income Statement, the Child Support Guidelines form, the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, and finally, the Child Support Guidelines Notice of Compliance. These forms summarize such information as when each child will be staying with each parent, and the amount of child support that will be expected. And again, these forms will also be filed with the same Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.
The next step is the Separation Agreement. You both must fill it out together, and it is here that you and your partner will have to decide how to divide your joint assets, and any jointly held debts. These include bank accounts, cars, real estate, retirement accounts and credit card debt, among other things. It is a very critical step, maybe even more so than the agreement about the children, and it is at this point that a breakdown in negotiations often occurs. If it does, then the divorce becomes contentious, and a more expensive style of divorce involving attorneys for both sides becomes inevitable. If you can amicably get past this critical step, the final form to be filled out is the Final Decree and Judgment of Divorce. The filing partner will then go once again to the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office and there he or she will simultaneously file the Separation Agreement and the just mentioned Final Decree and Judgment of Divorce.
While at the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, you may be assigned a Court Hearing date. Often, if there are still some minor disagreements about splitting assets and debts, they can be settled at that point. If there are no disagreements at all, a Court Hearing may not even be necessary. If all goes well, the judge will in either case issue Final Decree and Judgment of Divorce. Depending on circumstances, you will either receive a written copy immediately or through the mail.