What are the requirements for an uncontested divorce in Shelby County Alabama?

Mar 11, 2020 12:05 AM ET

Uncontested divorce actions are often time consuming and cause emotional and financial battles that require professional support from family law attorneys.  In Shelby County, a person can file for an uncontested divorce, but a document called a custody affidavit is required to be signed by both parties. Even though the affidavit is not required in every county in Alabama, a person will not be able to receive a divorce decree in Shelby county without first signing the affidavit. Basic requirements to secure an uncontested divorce in Shelby County Alabama, individuals must:

Residency – at least one spouse must be a resident of the state of Alabama and an affidavit of residency is required;
Complete paperwork – although the complaint form is the initial first step to end a marriage, other terms for the divorce must be put in writing and agreed to by divorcing parties and may be referred to as a “marriage settlement agreement.” A copy of the agreement will need to be filed with the Shelby County Clerk’s Office and parties should keep 2 copies for themselves for backup and service to the other spouse;
Service – service is a requirement of a divorce proceeding in Alabama and can be accomplished through:

Personal delivery if the other spouse is willing to sign the “Answer and Wavier,” or by regular mail;
If the other spouse is not willing to sign an “Answer and Waiver” then it can be mailed first class mail certified with a return receipt request, but include the “Answer and Waiver” document with the other divorce papers;
Or service can be made by a sheriff or constable that will deliver it and sign an affidavit that it has been delivered;
When a spouse cannot be located, the Plaintiff in the divorce action must publish a notice of divorce in the local newspaper for four consecutive weeks. If the other spouse does not respond, they are considered served.  Proof of service is required in Alabama courts to finalize a divorce action.

These steps will need to be followed for an uncontested divorce with or without children. Filing distinctions when children are involved include a child support information sheet; support obligation income affidavits; child support guidelines forms; and a child support guideline notice of compliance. 

Parental education requirements.

Parents must also attend a class and seminar in:

 “Transition in Parenting” Class: Not mandatory but with a Standing Pre-Trial Order, banning the spouses from harassing one another and removing children from the state may require this class.
“Children Cope with Divorce” Seminar: A certificate of Attendance must also be submitted with the rest of the documents listed above.

Seek legal counsel.

An attorney can assist with the preparation of documents, including a notice to the defendant to let them know of impending legal action; instructions for employers to inform spouses’ boss of any payments related to the action; answer to the order of withholding puts order in action and finally, an order of service and return.  A lawyer is the best option to make sure the paperwork is completed correctly and filed in a timely manner.  Sometimes an uncontested divorce can become a contested divorce and the intricacies involved may require a higher level of family law knowledge. 

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