Answers from knowledgeable Birmingham attorneys
Family law is constantly changing, and it may seem impossible to keep up with the legal system. At King, Green, & Dobson, LLC, we routinely handle a variety of family law cases and continually research changes in the law. Whether you need information about seeking a divorce or developing a child custody or support arrangement or you just want to understand the legal challenges you might be facing, our attorneys have the answers. We provide the resources and advice you need to make sound legal decisions for yourself and your family.
- How do I prepare for my first court date?
- Do I need to have a specific reason to get a divorce?
- How long does it take to get a divorce?
- What is a legal separation, and is it required before I file for divorce?
- Are judges more prone to favor men over women?
- Will I automatically get spousal support after my divorce?
- How does the court decide which parent gets custody?
You’re not alone — providing the answers you need
At King, Green, & Dobson, LLC, our attorneys are committed staying abreast of changes in the law so that you can have the peace of mind that your case is being handled professionally and efficiently. We offer consultations Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and appointments after office hours are available upon request. Call us at 205.937.3687 or contact us online today.
How do I prepare for my first court date?
- Get all of your information organized. Prepare all your legal documents and paperwork are in order ahead of time so that you do not miss anything on the day of your court appearance.
- Visit the courthouse before your first court appearance. It is important to know how to get to the courthouse, and any holdups that may occur such as road construction. It may be helpful to drive to the courthouse at the same time of day as your scheduled appearance so you know how traffic will be.
- Plan your outfit. Your appearance in court is important, so you should dress as if you are going to a job interview or business meeting. Keep clothing neutral and pay attention to details such as hairstyle, accessories, and makeup. It is important to be professional and conservative on the day of court.
- Plan your day according to your court appearance. Make sure that there is nothing interrupting you on the day of your court appearance. Plan to arrive to your appearance early and don't schedule anything right before or after your appearance is scheduled. If you are scheduled to work on the same day as your court appearance, talk to your employer well ahead of time to request the day off or make arrangements.
- Try and remain calm. You may feel nervous on the day of your court appearance. It is important to stay calm during your court appearance and to avoid any arguments or conflicts with others in the courtroom. If you are unhappy with the ruling after your appearance speak to your attorney about the outcome and how to move your case forward.
Alabama has two forms of divorce: no-fault and fault-based. The usual grounds for no-fault divorce are an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or incompatibility. Examples of fault-based grounds for divorce include adultery, habitual drunkenness or drug abuse, a wife’s pregnancy without the husband’s knowledge or agency, imprisonment, and domestic violence.
There is no set time period for granting a divorce, since each case is different. A simplified divorce may be granted 30 days after the filing date of the summons and complaint. Contested divorces can take much longer, depending on how long it takes the parties to reach a settlement agreement.
A legal separation is an alternative to the dissolution of a marriage. If the court grants a legal separation, the judge will enter an order establishing the rights and responsibilities of each party. The court may establish spousal support, child support and child custody arrangements. If one party later chooses to file for divorce, the court may order that the terms of the legal separation be incorporated into the divorce decree. It is not required that a couple goes through a legal separation prior to filing for divorce.
Many people believe that judges favor men or women when creating the terms of a divorce. Our attorneys value fairness and work diligently to ensure that each party is treated according to the law and not according to personal preference. The main objective for child custody and support orders is to provide for the best interests of the child. Spousal support is determined by the need and ability to pay, regardless of sex.
In determining the applicability and amount of alimony, the court analyzes several factors. Need and ability to pay are the primary criteria for granting spousal maintenance. Other factors include future earning opportunities, each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, each spouse’s age and health, and each spouse’s separate assets.
The primary concern for Alabama courts is the best interests of the child. There is a presumption in favor of joint custody, and sole custody is only awarded if the court determines that joint parenting is detrimental to the health, safety and well-being of the child. If there is a material change in circumstances, the court may modify a custody order and grant custody to the other parent. Communication and a willingness to co-parent are important considerations when the court considers a joint custody request. If there is a history of domestic abuse, the court presumes that it is against the child’s best interests to award custody to the abusive parent.