How Long Does a Divorce Take in Alabama?

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Realizing a marriage isn’t working and coming to the decision to divorce isn’t one that is often made hastily. After exhausting all other avenues and settling on a path for divorce, you may wonder, how long will a divorce take? And when can you begin this new chapter of your life? The answer, however, is far from clear or conclusive. It can take anywhere from 30 days, in the simplest of cases, to well over a year, when there are many decisions to be made and few that are mutually agreed upon.

Alabama’s Mandatory Divorce Waiting Period

Alabama has a mandatory 30-day waiting period from the time the petition to divorce is filed and the spouse is served with divorce papers to the time a divorce is finalized. So, under ideal circumstances, a divorce can be petitioned for and finalized within a month. However, that requires that both spouses agree to a no-fault divorce, and are in agreement in all issues to be decided in the divorce process. However, that is seldom the case. There is also a 30-day period from the time the spouse receives the divorce papers to reply to a complaint for divorce, which can overlap with the waiting period.

The issues that need to be decided on before a divorce can be finalized include how to divide marital assets and debt, whether there will be alimony, the custody of any children involved, and whether child support will be paid.

Factors That Lengthen the Divorce Timeline

  • If the divorce is contested. This means that one or more issues are still being disputed by the time the divorce case reaches a judge. An uncontested divorce is one where both spouses come to an agreement on all the issues to be decided in the divorce, and the divorce just needs to be approved by the judge. If the parties can’t reach a decision on the issues on their own, the judge needs to decide for them based on evidence and testimony, which can increase the amount of time it takes to get the divorce finalized.
  • If one or both parties haven’t been residing in Alabama for six months. In order to have a divorce to be filed for in Alabama, one spouse must have lived in Alabama for six months leading up to the filing of divorce papers.
  • If the grounds for the divorce are alleged on fault. In Alabama, there are fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. Essentially, a no-fault divorce occurs when both parties agree that the marriage wasn’t working or they just weren’t compatible, and no-fault divorces tend to proceed much faster. Grounds for a fault-based divorce include incapacity, substance abuse problems, adultery, violence, abandonment, mental illness leading to institutionalization, incarceration for two years or more, a crime against nature, or an unrevealed pregnancy at the time the marriage took place.

Experienced Cullman County Divorce Attorney

The team at the Hankey Law Firm understands that deciding to divorce can be one of the most stressful and difficult times in a person’s life. We know that the decision to end a marriage isn’t one made easily, which is why it is our mission to support you through the process, making it as painless as possible. Whether it’s an uncontested divorce with few assets or an arduous divorce with property and custody disputes, we are well-prepared to meet any and all of your family law needs. We proudly serve the people of Cullman County, Blount County, Winston County, Madison County, Morgan County, and beyond. Our experienced attorneys will guide you through the divorce process with discretion, dedication, and compassion, and advocate for you every step of the way. Contact us today so we can help you get started.