Frequently Asked Questions
Can we use the same lawyer?
No, one lawyer cannot represent both parties on opposite sides of a family law dispute.
How much child support will I receive/pay?
Both Mother and Father have a continuing financial obligation for their children after a divorce.
In 1993, Alabama adopted child support guidelines that provide a blue-print for calculating child support. The amount calculated in accordance with the guidelines is presumed to be the proper financial obligation for the children. Essentially, the gross incomes of the parents, health insurance costs and work-related child care expenses are variables in the calculation. There are exceptions to this presumption; for example, the guidelines do not apply to cases where the parents’ combined gross income exceeds $20,000 per month.
How is custody determined?
Alabama’s policy is to assure that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of their children and to encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of rearing their children. Both parents have equal rights, according to law, but the policy does not necessarily mean equal time for both parents. If the parents are unable to agree, the Court is tasked with making the determination based on the children’s best interests.
My spouse/ex-spouse refuses to share my child’s school records, what can I do?
No matter what the custodial arrangement, each parent has equal access to all records and information pertaining to their child.
If my spouse and I have been living apart and have divided our stuff, we’re legally separated, right?
No. This is one area of the law that is most commonly misunderstood. A legal separation, like a divorce, can only be achieved by Order of the Court. In other words, the procedure for obtaining a Legal Separation is much like a divorce. A complaint must be filed with the Court, and if the parties are unable to agree to the terms of the separation, a Judge will decide after a hearing.
Will I pay/receive alimony? If so, how much?
This is determined on a case by case basis, and the law requires courts to consider various factors in determining whether to award alimony and how much. Judges have wide discretion in this area of the law, as there is no formula or simple procedure. The Court may consider the following factors in making determinations regarding alimony: the length of the marriage, each party’s age and ability to earn, future prospects of each party, the marital property that is being divided and their sources, values and types, and the conduct of the parties in relation to the cause of the divorce.
I have heard that Alabama is a “no fault” state, what does this mean?
Several decades ago, a person seeking a divorce had to have specific grounds or reasons, in order to qualify, when fault could be proven (i.e. adultery, abandonment, imprisonment etc.) Alabama became a no-fault state when the state adopted the grounds of incompatibility and irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The Court still considers “fault” and misconduct as a factor in determining alimony and property division, as described in answer related to those issues above.
What if I cannot afford an attorney?
The Court will not appoint someone to represent you in a divorce but there are some resources for low-income Alabamians and/or victims of domestic violence in need legal representation.