Divorce is a difficult time that can have far reaching influence on every aspect of a person's life. At the Law Office of Joseph Ingram, divorce attorney Joe Ingram is prepared to handle any issue that arises in a divorce proceeding.
Divorce is a beginning as well as an end.
Divorce is never pleasant. That's something that you've probably come to realize in a very hard way if you're going through a divorce now. There are emotions that you never knew even existed that come over you during a divorce. One thing that you will probably have is a lot of questions. Every person is different, and the answers will be different for each one. Here are some common questions and answers that might help you.
Q. What are the grounds for divorce in Alabama?
A. Alabama law provides many grounds for divorce. However, since the adoption of the concept of "no-fault" divorce by the Alabama Legislature in the 1970's, the grounds of incompatibility and irretrievable breakdown of the marriage are the most common bases for divorce in the state. Other grounds for divorce in Alabama include: Physical and incurable incapacity to enter into marriage, physical violence, adultery, voluntary abandonment for one year, imprisonment, conviction of a crime after marriage, habitual user of drugs, and confinement to a mental hospital. A Complaint for Divorce must allege one or more grounds, which the person filing for divorce (the "Plaintiff") must prove by testimony, either orally or in writing.
Q. How do I know that it's time for a divorce?
A. The answer to this question is definitely different for everyone. First of all, if you are in an emotionally or physically unhealthy situation, you need to get out. If you are unhappy or the marriage doesn't seem to be working, you can try to work on things with your partner. The thing is, your partner has to be willing to work with you, and the both of you have to be committed. Or, you can choose to get a divorce. If your partner doesn't want to work things out, or nothing is working, you may want a divorce. In any situation, it depends on your safety, health and happiness.
Q. I have decided to get a divorce. What is the first thing I should do?
A. This is one of the most important divorce questions there is. You will need to prepare yourself for the divorce by learning what you can. The first thing you need to do gather as much information that you can to bring in for us to review; checking and savings bank statements, savings accounts, retirement accounts, income tax returns, cell and home phone records, income statements, stocks and bonds, home appraisals, mortgage information, payroll records, department store account records, charge account statements, receipts for purchases, computer information and any private investigation information that you may have. Well-prepared clients help their cases go more smoothly. You can save time and money by gathering facts and carefully considering what goals you want to achieve.
Q. What if I have committed adultery or other infidelities?
A. It is important for you to be honest with your attorney. If there are skeletons in the closet (or a few loose bones) regarding finances, extramarital relationships, or other issues, it is best to be candid with your attorney about such matters so they can be dealt with if necessary. You are usually worse off if adverse information comes up for the first time in the middle of a trial or the middle of negotiations, since the attorney may not be fully prepared to respond to the disclosures. Family law attorneys hear many secrets about people's private lives. I am not likely to be shocked or upset by any disclosures you make. Under rules of confidentiality, I must keep a client's private information secret.
Q. Should we divide our things between us, or allow a judge to do it?
A. Anytime you can work on your own to settle your issues, including division of property and assets, it's good. What you do not want to happen, is allow your spouse to take advantage of you. You need to make sure that the division is fair and that you get what you deserve. If you have children and they will be with you most of the time, you also have to consider their needs as well.
Q. How will our property divided?
A. After a full hearing, a court determines what a fair division would be in view of the facts and circumstances of the case. There is no specific formula for the division of marital property in Alabama. However, a court will consider the parties liabilities and assets, the amount and nature of the property owned, the length of their marriage, and the economic circumstances of each spouse. In some cases the court will consider the "fault" or misconduct of one, or both of the parties which contributed to the breakdown of the marriage. If you and your spouse agree on a property division, then this may be incorporated into an Agreement of the Parties for presentation to the court for approval. If you cannot agree, the court will divide the property.
Q. Will I receive alimony?
A. Alimony is available to either spouse in Alabama. The court looks at certain circumstances before making an award of alimony such as the length of the marriage, the ages of the parties, the fault of either party, the educational background, work experience, physical health, and relative financial circumstances of the parties. There is no set formula for calculating the amount of alimony to be awarded. It can be an agreed-upon amount, a sum set by the court or it may be waived by the parties altogether. It is also possible for the issue of alimony to be reserved for a future order of the court. However, if alimony is waived, and there is no reservation of alimony in the divorce decree, the court cannot award it at a later date.
Q. What about our children?
A. Divorce is never easy when children are involved. It's important that they get time with both parents, unless one has been deemed unsafe for some reason. It is also important that they understand what is going on. Talk to them and show them extra affection during this time. One thing you should never do is talk negatively about your spouse in front of the children. No matter your feelings, this will confuse the children and it is traumatic.
Q. How much child support will I receive?
A. In Alabama, there are child support guidelines that the court uses to determine child support obligations. The guidelines assume that both parents should continue sharing the financial obligations of the children despite the divorce. If the combined gross monthly income of you and your spouse exceeds $10,000, the guidelines do not apply; the appropriate amount of child support is then within the discretion of the judge based on various factors including the expenses and needs of the children.
Q. How do I obtain custody of my child?
A. Whether I represent the mother or the father in a case, I jealously represent my client in seeking custody of their children even though typically in Alabama, the wife is generally named custodian of the minor children. Of course, the non-custodial spouse ordinarily has reasonable rights of visitation. If the parties can agree to the details of visitation, the court will usually approve the plan. If the court is required to determine specific visitation rights, the court will generally adhere to their standard visitation. Each county and judge usually has standard visitation guidelines they use. For children under three years of age, the rights of visitation are more restricted.
Q. We would like to obtain joint custody. How do we do that?
A. Joint custody is appropriate in certain instances, and can gain the approval of the court when agreed upon by the parties. An order for joint custody means that the parties will continue to share the legal rights and responsibilities attendant to being a parent, just as they do during the course of an ongoing marriage. The parties will agree upon a plan for sharing the child's time; such as establishing a primary residence for the child, and working out a feasible time-sharing arrangement. The judges prefer that the parties work out the details so that it is clear which parent has primary responsibility for certain aspects of the child's care. Each joint custody arrangement is subject to the court's approval. No matter what the custodial arrangement, each parent has equal access to school and medical records.
Q. My spouse will not let me see my child?
A. Child support and visitation rights are "not interrelated" under Alabama law. This means the custodial parent may not legally withhold visitation from the parent who does not pay child support as required. It is the child's right to see his or her parent, and it is the responsibility of the custodial parent to ensure that, absent extraordinary circumstances, a child goes for visitation, even over the child's objection.
Q. My spouse has abused me and I am afraid. What can I do?
A. After a divorce Complaint is filed it is possible to obtain temporary relief from the court. If your spouse is physically abusive to you or to the children, refuses to provide reasonable support, or threatens to destroy or dispose of property belonging to the parties, the court will hear your evidence and determine if relief is appropriate. If you think you will need such special relief, call me and I will immediately file a motion with the court.
Q. How can I modify my divorce decree?
A. Certain terms of your Decree of Divorce are subject to modification when you can establish a material change of circumstances. These terms include permanent alimony and all matters concerning child support, custody and visitation until the child reaches age nineteen. You can always modify child support, child visitation and alimony. However, as a general rule, property settlement terms are not subject to modification. Call me and I will file a petition with the court for modification.
Contact a Divorce Attorney
If you are considering a divorce or your spouse has filed for divorce, The Law Office of Joseph Ingram is here to help you through this difficult time. For divorce or any other family law needs, call 205-335-2640 or contact me online for a consultation with an experienced domestic relations attorney.
"No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers."
1027 23rd Street South
Birmingham, AL 35205
WE HANDLE CASES IN THE FOLLOWING STATES AND NATIONALLY: WE HAVE HANDLED CASES IN ALL 67 COUNTIES IN ALABAMA INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA, FLORENCE, ALABAMA, MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA MOBILE, ALABAMA, DECATUR, ALABAMA, CULLMAN, ALABAMA, DAPHNE, ALABAMA, FAIRHOPE, ALABAMA, ORANGE BEACH, ALABAMA, GULF SHORES, ALABAMA, PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA, JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, FT. LAUDERDALE, MIAMI, GULFPORT.