Table of Contents:
- Explanation of Uncontested Divorce Laws in Alabama
- How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Kentucky
- Laws for Uncontested Divorce in Georgia
- How to File for Uncontested Divorce in Wisconsin
Filing for Uncontested Divorce
When filing an uncontested divorce in Alabama, you must file a complaint for divorce noting your grounds for dissolution of the marriage. In Alabama, the grounds for a no-fault divorce are typically incompatibility or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In fault-based divorces, in which it is alleged that misconduct on the part of one spouse caused the end of the marriage, grounds include adultery, imprisonment, habitual drunkenness or drug use, and physical abuse among others. The complaint must also confirm you are an Alabama resident. As federal law provides active-duty service members additional time to respond to a petition for divorce, your complaint must also state whether your spouse is serving in the military.
When submitting the complaint for divorce, you must include a vital statistics form used by the state for record keeping, as well as a filing fee. If you and your spouse have children, the court will require you and your spouse to attend a "Children Cope with Divorce" seminar and submit additional paperwork to the court regarding your income and child support.
Agreement of the Parties
At the time the complaint is filed, you may settle the divorce as uncontested by submitting a marital settlement agreement to the court, sometimes referred to as an "Agreement of the Parties." The agreement must address relevant issues that the court would otherwise decide, including child custody and visitation, child support, alimony and the division of marital property. The agreement must be signed by both you and your spouse and certified by a notary public, if required by the court. Given the availability of online legal services and information, retaining a lawyer for a divorce is often not required. However, you or your spouse may retain an attorney for legal advice and representation, although the same lawyer cannot represent you both.
After the agreement is signed by both parties, you submit it to the court for final approval. If the court approves the settlement agreement, it will grant the divorce. However, the court must wait 30 days from the date a divorce complaint is filed before it may grant a divorce and it may take longer depending on the judge's caseload. Once the judge accepts the agreement of the parties, she will issue a final divorce decree, which completes the divorce. In many cases, you do not need to appear in court.
The judge does not automatically accept all divorce settlement agreements. He may reject your agreement for a simple technical reason, such as both spouses did not sign it or it was not notarized. These minor errors can be easily corrected and the court clerk may even alert you to the problem before it gets to the judge. The judge also may reject the settlement agreement if it does not address all issues relevant to the divorce. For example, if the couple has children and the agreement does not address child custody or support, the court would likely reject the agreement and require the parties to submit a new one addressing the missing components.
Talk to your spouse. If your spouse disagrees with you on major issues, you’ll be fighting a contested divorce. Your spouse may also agree with you on how to dissolve the marriage. In this case, file an uncontested divorce.
Inventory your joint marriage property before negotiating. Go over some basic questions a Kentucky divorce court may consider. Who gets the house? Who gets custody of the kids? How will you divide your joint account? Which debts will each of you inherit? Spell out what will l be yours, and what will be your spouse’s.
File a petition for dissolution of marriage. If you don’t have kids, file a Kentucky Marital Settlement Agreement (No Children). You can pick these up at your nearest Kentucky circuit court or check the court’s website in Resources below. If they have these forms online, download them and fill them out.
Find a lawyer who specializes in family divorce cases. You want one with a track record of success in divorce court. Make sure this lawyer has experience arguing divorce cases in a Kentucky court. Only one of you needs to get a lawyer to get your divorce paperwork together. The other spouse can hire a lawyer to review the legal documents the first lawyer drafts.
Have the lawyer review the forms you completed. He/she may have you file additional forms. This depends on local laws as well as the lawyer’s administrative needs. Usually, you’ll fill out personal information forms. Listen to the lawyer’s advice, then follow it. As of this writing, the state of Kentucky requires both of you to live apart for at least 60 days. Check with your lawyer to make sure that you’ve been separated the minimum time needed for a divorce.
Uncontested Divorce by Consent and Signed Agreement
In an an uncontested agreement divorce, the parties sign paperwork telling the court that they have reached a mutually agreed upon settlement concerning all their marital issues. Their agreements are detailed in a settlement agreement that is signed by both parties in front of a notary public. The court then incorporates this document into its final order granting the divorce. Two other important components of this type of divorce is that the parties agree to venue or the county in which the paperwork will be filed, and neither party has to be served with the legal documents. This is the consent part of the process. Consent divorce by signed agreement is usually the quickest way to get an uncontested divorce as, according to Georgia law, the court can finalize the divorce 31 days after the proper paperwork has been filed.
Uncontested Divorce by Service
In this type of uncontested divorce, the petitioner (the spouse who files the divorce) has a sheriff or other authorized individual serve divorce papers on the respondent (the other spouse). Once the respondent is served, he has two options if he wishes for the divorce to proceed as uncontested--to not respond to the paperwork or to respond with an answer that agrees with the paperwork. Some parties choose this method because it is less work for the respondent. In filing for an uncontested divorce via service, Georgia laws require that the paperwork be filed in the county where the respondent lives. The respondent has 31 days to answer the paperwork after he has been served. If he does not respond, the matter is considered uncontested, and the petitioner can go for a final hearing to finalize the divorce.
Uncontested Divorce by Publication
Divorce by publication is an uncontested process that the laws of Georgia allow a person to use when she cannot locate her spouse. In this process, a divorce action is filed along with an affidavit signed by the petitioner telling the court all the things she has done in an effort to find her spouse. If the petitioner can't find her spouse, the court will sign an order allowing the spouse to be served by publication. A legal notice will be published publicly in the official legal organ of the county where the petitioner resides. The notice runs for four weeks. If the spouse does not respond to the notice within a certain period of time, the divorce is considered uncontested and the petitioner can attend a final hearing to get the divorce finalized. Under the laws of Georgia, a judge hearing a divorce by publication matter can grant the divorce, but he cannot make any determination regarding property, debt, child custody or child support.
For all uncontested divorce actions filed in the state of Georgia, the law requires at least one of the parties to have lived in the state for six months prior to the actual filing of the paperwork. The courts do not usually verify residency by requiring proof, but the parties will sign legal documents swearing that they meet this residency requirement. It is illegal to lie to the court.
Visit your county circuit court office for the necessary paperwork or download the paperwork online. Locate your county circuit court through the state of Wisconsin's website (see Resources). The necessary forms depend on whether you're filing with your spouse or not. If your uncontested divorce is filed jointly you will need the form Joint Petition for Divorce/Legal Separation with children (FA-4110) or a Petition for Divorce/Legal separation for couples without children (FA-4111).
File separately if both parties agree to an uncontested divorce but your spouse is not available to fill out the paperwork. In Wisconsin, if you are filing separately, you will need the Summons with Minor Children (FA-4104) and Petition with Minor Children (FA-4108), or the Summons without Minor Children (FA-4015) and Petition without Minor Children (FA-4019). The summons form notifies your spouse that you have filed for divorce. The local county sheriff will serve your spouse the paperwork, or you can mail it by certified mail to your spouse's address.
Attach all documentation to your divorce paperwork including your Financial Affidavit and your Marital Settlement agreement The Marital Settlement agreement notifies the court of the married couple's agreed on way to settle all financial obligations. The Financial Affidavit gives the court all your financial information separate from your spouse's financial information so the court can compare them. These forms can be collected through the circuit court website or at your county courthouse.
File the divorce paperwork and any fees that the court requests at your circuit court and keep a copy of the divorce paperwork for yourself.
Attend the hearing and bring copies of all your paperwork. The state of Wisconsin divorce cases are settled in front of a judge, not a jury. The judge will discuss the divorce process and make sure that you clearly understand everything stated in the paperwork. The judge makes all final decisions about your uncontested divorce at the court hearing.