Required Documents and What They Mean
Divorce is never an easy decision and not one any couple wants to discuss. But, when both you and your spouse have agreed that you’ll both be happier with a separation, it is almost always easier, cheaper, faster, and far less stressful to file for an “uncontested” divorce, rather than fight it out in extended litigation. An uncontested divorce is simply one where you and your spouse have agreed to every aspect of the divorce terms, including but not limited to child custody, support and visitation (if you have children), property settlement, retirement division, insurance, and alimony. Below, you’ll find a list of all of the documents needed for an uncontested divorce.
The Complaint is the formal pleading that starts the divorce process. It summarizes the issues in the particular case and asks the Court to review and approve the settlement or separation agreement entered into by the couple.
This document is the contract between you and your ex-spouse for the terms of the divorce or separation, along with how and when those terms are to be completed. Be sure to go over this document thoroughly with your attorney because it is the blueprint for how you and your ex-spouse will end your marriage. More importantly, if you have children, this agreement will lay out the terms of the custody or visitation schedule, child support, medical insurance, payment of extracurricular expenses, and other provisions.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF RIGHTS
Often, many couples seeking an uncontested divorce only use one attorney. An attorney can only represent ONE of the parties, regardless if both are in full agreement. However, it is not required for both parties to have counsel. One spouse can retain an attorney to draft all of the paperwork and the other spouse will get an opportunity to review everything before signing. If the unrepresented spouse is satisfied with the agreement, he or she can simply waive the right to counsel and proceed unrepresented by signing an “Acknowledgment of Rights”. This is a very common scenario and two attorneys are usually not necessary because the terms of the agreement are so straight-forward. However, if you or your spouse feels better about having the documents reviewed by independent counsel, it is not an inconvenience. Our Huntsville Divorce Attorneys are fully capable of drafting or reviewing uncontested divorce documents quickly and accurately.
ANSWER, WAIVER & AGREEMENT TO TAKE TESTIMONY
This document allows the Court to take jurisdiction of your case and enter an order consistent with the terms of what was requested in the Complaint and in the settlement agreement without the need for either you or your spouse to appear in court and give testimony under oath. Without this document, the Court does not have the authority to enter a divorce just on the paperwork.
An affidavit for an uncontested divorce is simply the filing party’s written testimony under oath about the basic facts of the marriage (date of marriage, residence in Alabama as a married couple, children, etc.) and an affirmation that there is an “incompatibility of temperament” between you and your spouse. All of these facts are also stated in the Complaint but the law requires that there be a separate affidavit to affirm those facts.
FINAL DECREE (Proposed)
The filing party will need to submit a proposed final order for the Court to sign if all of the necessary documents are sufficiently prepared. The final decree will summarize most of the terms of the divorce and “ratify and incorporate” the terms of the settlement or separation agreement into the body of the final decree as if it were fully stated in that order.
CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE
This document is the public notice of divorce kept by the vital records department of the State of Alabama. It is automatically completed by the electronic filing system once you file the necessary documents.
CHILD SUPPORT FORMS
If there are children involved in the divorce, then a separate group of child support documents are required to be completed, EVEN IF NO CHILD SUPPORT WILL BE PAID. Both parties are required to complete forms that list their monthly gross income, calculate what child support would be if it were ordered, notify the court whether they intend to follow and apply the child support calculations or not, and give the addresses of where the children will be residing with both parents.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
In every divorce involving children, the Court will enter a set of “Standard Parenting Clauses”, which lay out many rules for how to interact with your ex-spouse when it deals with co-parenting your children. Some of the provisions include how to notify the other about a child’s medical emergency, or ensuring reasonable access to communication between a child and parent who is not in present custody of the child. Our experienced divorce attorneys will be happy to provide you a copy of these clauses and explain them in detail.
Additionally, parents who are divorcing with children must enroll and complete a “Transition in Parenting” class that is offered through the Family Services Center in Huntsville and other locations in Madison County and North Alabama.
The filing fee for every uncontested divorce is $324 and there is an additional $12 charge for filing the documents electronically. (Note this is subject to change and can vary based upon other factors).
Do not hesitate to reach out to us as our skilled Huntsville lawyers are here to help you start a new chapter in your life in the easiest way possible