Q: What is the difference in a "contested" and "uncontested" divorce?
A: An "uncontested” divorce is just that; a divorce in which all aspects can be agreed on by the parties without the need of litigation. This would include an agreement on custody, child support, visitation, property division, alimony, et al. If any issue cannot be agreed upon by the parties then this would constitute a "contested" divorce which would require litigation.
Q: How is alimony determined in Alabama?
A: The court has discretion in determining alimony to be paid, taking into consideration such factors as: length of the marriage, ability of the parties to earn, age of the parties, health of the parties, etc. Alimony can be in the form of "rehabilitative" (temporary), "periodic" (monthly), or "alimony in gross" (lump sum).
Q: How is child support calculated in Alabama?
A: Alabama has child support guidelines which take into consideration each parent's gross monthly income, along with monthly cost of medical insurance, and any work related day care expense. The concept is that the children should enjoy the standard of living that they would have enjoyed had the parents remained together.
Q: How long is child support to be paid?
A: Child support must be paid until the minor child has reached the age of majority or until the child marries or becomes self-supporting. The age of majority in Alabama is presently 19 years of age.
Q: How is custody of children determined in Alabama?
A: Child custody is determined by the court with a "best interest of the children" standard of review. A child's wishes are to be given weight but are not controlling on the court. Once the initial determination of custody is determined, any subsequent petition to modify custody places an increased burden on the petitioning party and requires a “material change in circumstances" since the prior order of the court on custody. Alabama has established that "joint legal custody" is generally granted to both parents and "primary physical custody" is awarded to the parent with whom the children will reside. The parent who is not granted "primary physical custody" will be awarded liberal visitation rights.
Q: Can the parents be required to pay for college expenses?
A: No, the laws of the state of Alabama have changed and parents are no longer required to pay for their child's college education.
Q: How is personal property divided in Alabama?
A: In general, property which is the parties' remains with that party, unless used for the "benefit of the marriage." If the property was used for the "benefit of the marriage" then the court has the discretion of dividing the property. Alabama operates under an "equity" policy which allows the court to do what it believes is just and fair given the particular circumstances.
Q: What will the court do with a marital home?
A: The court has discretion over the division of the marital home and this can become a complicated issue. The court can award the home to either party or can require the sale of the home. Generally, if the parties cannot agree the court will require the home to be sold. The equity in the home, payments due on the home and their treatment are also within the discretion of the trial court.
Q: Can the court divide "retirement accounts"?
A: The court has limited discretion on retirement accounts, of which certain limitations include that the parties have been married for a period of ten (10) years during which the retirement was being accumulated. The court cannot include monies which were acquired prior to the marriage, and the total amount awarded to the non-covered spouse cannot exceed 50% of the benefits allowed to be considered. This is a complicated area of the law and the above statement should be considered as only a minimal part of the law relating to retirement account divisions.
The preceding is for information purposes only and is not intended or recommended for use in litigation by an individual. You should contact an attorney for any litigation purposes.