Divorce Attorney & Family Lawyer--Divorce Information
The Information Form that is used by the firm to draft uncontested divorce documents is attached. We ask that interested parties complete the form and email, send or bring it to the office
Bowman Law Firm Forms
Divorce Information Form
Divorce Information Form (pdf)
The documents below provide information on visitation, custody, divorce and other family law issues.
Article on Divorce
Madison County Local Standard Visitation Schedule
Madison County Long-Distance Standard Visitation Schedule
Standard Parenting Clauses
Transition in Parenting Class
Standard Pendente LIte Order
Alabama Child Support Table
Divorce in Alabama--Military & Civilian Info
Alabama provides a specific method for determining the amount of child support to be paid by a noncustodial parent. While there are situations where the standard formula may not apply, most cases will be controlled by Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Procedure. Commonly known as "Rule 32 Guidelines," the Rules of Judicial Procedure provide forms and amounts to use for determining how much child support a person should pay.
Family Law Websites
Divorce in Alabama
This information is provided to answer some of your questions about divorce (contested and uncontested) and applicable Alabama law. This material does not attempt to get into the specifics of your case; rather, it provides general information that will be useful in consulting with us and as a reference.
Alabama has many grounds for divorce. Some of these grounds are: voluntary abandonment for one year, physical cruelty, adultery, addiction to alcohol or drugs, incompatibility of temperament, and irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. These last two grounds are the basis for what is commonly called "no-fault' divorce. This simply means that the parties’ want a divorce, because they are unable to get alone, to such an extent, that the marriage has suffered irreparable damage. No proof of fault is necessary, although it may be considered by the judge on trial. Most divorces can be obtained on "no-fault" grounds.
There is a residency requirement, which must be satisfied in order for an Alabama court to have jurisdiction to grant a divorce. This requirement is satisfied if both parties or the defendant permanently reside in Alabama. If the defendant does not reside in Alabama, the plaintiff must have been domiciled in Alabama for six (6) months immediately preceding the filing of the divorce complaint. There are limited exceptions which may apply if. You do not qualify under these rules.
Divorce must be filed in the county of the defendants’ residence or county of residence when separation occurred; if the defendant is a nonresident, then in the county in which the other party to the marriage resides. However, if either party is an Alabama resident, divorce may, be filed in any county if the defendant fails to object. Petitions to modify, divorce decrees may be brought at the custodial parent’s option in the county where the custodial parent has resided for the last three (3) years or in the county where the divorce was granted. If the non-custodial parent files the petition to modify, the custodial parent may choose the, venue. Persons in military service and spouses living in Alabama are deemed residents of Alabama for the purpose of maintaining suits at law and equity in this state. When the defendant is a nonresident, the plaintiff must have been a bona fide resident of this state for six (6) months next before filing divorce, which must be alleged and proved.
Common Law Marriage
"A valid common law marriage exists in Alabama when there is capacity to enter into a marriage, present agreement or consent to be husband and wife, public recognition of the existence of the marriage, and consummation." Waller v. Waller,567 So.2d 869 (Ala.Civ.App. 1990). See also, Hudson v. Hudson, 404 So.2d 82 (Ala.Civ.App. 1981). The intent of the parties can be proven by the parties holding themselves out to others as husband and wife. Once a common law marriage is established, it is no different from a ceremonial marriage. It can only be dissolved by divorce.
Divorce v. Legal Separation
In some instances a couple with marriage problems may wish relief short of divorce. They may object to divorce because of religious convictions or in order to retain health insurance military benefits. In a divorce from bed and board, commonly called a "legal separation," or in a suit for separate maintenance, the parties remain married after the legal proceedings. As in a divorce, legal separation and separate maintenance consider custody of the children, child support, alimony, and property use or division. During the legal separation or separate maintenance, either party can sue for a divorce on one or more grounds cited above.
Divorce proceedings may consist of several events and phases; fact-gathering from you; attempts to achieve an uncontested divorce; filing the complaint, information-gathering from your spouse, records, and witnesses; settlement negotiations and the trial.
An uncontested divorce can often be obtained quickly and is less expense than a contested divorce. It can only occur when both parties agree to all of the terms of the divorce. It is often therapeutic for parties to work out a divorce agreement. Disputes over child custody, child support, visitation rights, alimony, or property division, will prohibit an uncontested divorce.
Starting the Proceedings
A divorce case begins with the filing of a complaint in the Circuit Court. Costs vary among the counties but, generally, the filing fee is in approximately $350. The party filing the complaint is the plaintiff and the opposing party, the defendant. The complaint is normally filed in the county where the defendant resides or where the parties resided at the time they separated.
Service of the Complaint
The law of Alabama requires that the defendant must be made aware of the suit for divorce. This procedure is known as service of process. When a divorce complaint is filed, a request is made for the sheriff to deliver a copy, of the complaint to the defendant or for the court clerk to mail a copy by registered mail to the defendant's last known address. To avoid the embarrassment often associated with being served by the sheriffs, the defendant may sign a waiver acknowledging receipt of a copy of the complaint. If your spouse has a lawyer, your spouse may authorize the lawyer to accept service. In some cases, service may be achieved by publishing notice in a newspaper.
The law does not require the parties to be physically separated and living apart on the filing the divorce complaint. However, some judges may require it.
In the past, custody was generally granted to the mother. However, this is not a rule of law. Alabama courts look to the "best interests of the children" and seek to determine which parent is most fit. The desires of older children are often considered by the judge. Regardless of which parent is granted custody, the other parent will be granted reasonable visitation rights, except in extreme circumstances. Joint custody may be an alternative, but many judges do not favor it. It has, however, recently gained more favor.
The Supreme Court of Alabama has adopted guidelines for use in determining the amount of childsupport to be paid by, the non-custodial parent. Once we have all of the relevant facts, we can estimate the amount of child support. The amount of child support depends on the income of the parties and the needs of the children. The law only requires support of a child until the child’s nineteenth (19th) birthday or until the child becomes self-supporting, whichever occurs first. If special needs are present, such as for a retarded child, child support can be extended past the age of 19. By agreement, the parties can set the amount of child support and extend the age limit.
The Supreme Court has also determined that a divorce judge has authority to order the parties to provide a college education for their children. There may be certain limitations, but such a decision in now discretionary with the divorce judge.
Alabama has adopted an "Income share method to calculate child support. The gross income of the mother and father is used to arrive at "family income." Adjustments are made for pre-existing support payments for other dependent persons and for health insurance costs. The total support based on "family income" and number of children is then located on the guideline chart. An additional adjustment is made for net childcare costs. Then, the total support figure is multiplied by the percentage of the total income of both the mother and father. The non-custodial parent pays his or her percentage of the total support of the other spouse.
The judge will generally approve the visitation periods agreed to by the parties. Judges usually prefer that visitation rights be specific (“every first and third weekend from Friday at 6:00 p.m. until Sunday at 6:00 p.m., one month during the summer vacation, one week each Christmas to include Christmas Day on alternate years, alternate spring vacations, Thanksgivings and Easters, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and on the spouse birthday”). The Madison County Courts have established Standard Visitation Schedules for parents that live within 150 miles of each other and for those that live further than 150 miles from each other. Special visitation rights may be awarded, if the parents do not live close to one another.
Alimony is the money paid by one spouse to the other, in recognition of the duty to support and maintain the other spouse. It is available in Alabama. The amount and duration of alimony awarded is different in every case. Some of the facts considered by the judge in awarding alimony are as follows: length of the marriage, ages of the parties, assets and liabilities, income, earning capabilities, the degree of fault of the parties in causing the divorce, stations in life, and health. Alimony shall be terminated upon petition and proof that the receiving spouse has married or is living or cohabiting with a member of the opposite sex.
There is no formula for determining how the property (land, money, automobiles, household, goods, etc.) will be divided.
If the parties can reach a reasonable agreement, the judge will generally approve it. Otherwise, the judge will make a decision considering such factors as the following: the length of the marriage, relative earning capacities, assets and liabilities, custody of the children, and the fault of the parties in causing the divorce.
In Madison County, the Courts have established standard rules that govern the behavior of the parties’ after a divorce action is filed and prior to its conclusion. These rules govern the behavior of the parties, child custody, child support, and other matter. Under certain conditions, an emergency hearing can be heard before a judge for temporary relief before the divorce is finalized on a showing of the potential for irreparable harm; the judge may prohibit any party from harming or harassing his or her spouse, and from selling property belonging to the parties. It is important to tell your attorney if you are afraid your spouse will harm you or your children in any way. The judge may direct a spouse, usually the husband, to move out of the house pending the trial. The judge may also grant temporary relief by awarding custody of the children, requiring the payment of child support and alimony, setting visitation rights, and requiring payment of attorney fees, all pending trial.
Changing the Wife's Name
The wife may legally change her name through the divorce proceedings to resume the use of her maiden name or name by a previous marriage. The children will retain the name of their father.
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Who We Are
Gene M. Bowman, LL.M. (Masters of Tax Law), Attorney and CPA
B. S., Accounting, University of Alabama, 1984.
J.D., University of Alabama, 1987.
LL.M. (Masters of Law), Washington University, 1991
Washington University Merit Scholarship Recipient
He has been an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, where he taught Business Law and Individual and Small Business Income Taxation. He is a graduate of the business and law schools of the University of Alabama, and obtained a graduate law degree from Washington University.
What We Do
TAX AND FINANCIAL--BUSINESS AND INDIVIDUAL
Tax Attorney/Lawyer and CPA
Protest of IRS and State Tax Audits
Innocent Spouse Relief
IRS and State Audits and Appeals
Tax Controversy Matters--Federal, State and Local
Offers in Compromise
Corporate, Partnership and Limited Liability Company organization and planning
IRS Criminal Investigations
Collection Due Process Hearings
Removing Tax Levies and Garnishments
FAMILY LAW--DIVORCE, ETC.
Custody and DHR