Serving Divorce Papers in Alabama

If you or someone you know is considering filing for a divorce in the state of Alabama, then it is important to understand the process of serving divorce papers. Serving documents can be a complicated task, especially if the other party lives in another city or town. This blog post will discuss ways you can serve your spouse with papers and why you shouldn’t avoid being served.

What Are Divorce Papers?

Divorce papers are legal documents that initiate the process of dissolving a marriage. These documents contain information such as the grounds for divorce, child support and custody arrangements, spousal support and alimony payments, division of property and assets, and any other relevant details related to the dissolution of a marriage.

Filing for Divorce in Alabama

To legally file for divorce in Alabama, the initiating spouse must have been a resident of the state continuously over six months prior to submitting their filing. In contrast, if your partner resides out-of-state then they are not subject to meeting this requirement.

When filing, you can either file contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one where both parties agree on all matters such as division of property and child custody. This filing is the simplest procedure and requires filing a marital settlement agreement with the court.

A contested divorce occurs when one or both parties disagree on issues such as alimony, child support, or division of property. In this case, each party will need to hire an attorney and go through a trial before a judge makes a ruling. It is important to understand all of your rights and options before beginning either type of divorce process in Alabama.

Regardless of how you file, after filing, you will need to filing fees (or ask for a deferment), and then, you will need to serve your spouse with papers. In Alabama, you must serve the other party within 120 days of filing, and you cannot serve them yourself.

How Can I Serve Divorce Papers?

In Alabama, the party filing for divorce (the petitioner) must serve the other party with a copy of the petition for divorce. This can be done either through personal service or by certified mail with return receipt requested. If your spouse chooses not to respond to the petition within 30 days, then you may file a motion requesting that he or she be declared in default and the court will grant your request without further notice from him or her.

The best way to ensure that this is done properly is by hiring an experienced process server who will deliver your documents. Process servers are usually available through local courts or law firms. You can also have the papers served using:

  • The sherriff’s office (and have local law enforcement serve the other party)
  • The U.S. mail (and request a return receipt, which you will need to file with an Affidavit of Certified Mailing of Process and Complaint)

You can also avoid having to serve your spouse if they will sign an acknowledgement and wavier of service. However, with this method, they will have to agree to sign the document and be amicable or cooperative.

What Happens If You Avoid Being Served Divorce Papers?

If you are served with divorce papers, it is your legal obligation to respond within a certain period of time. Failing to do so can have serious repercussions and could lead to a default judgment in favor of your spouse.

If you are served with divorce papers and choose not to respond, the court may grant a default judgment in favor of your spouse. This means that the court will accept all of your spouse's requests without any input from you.

This input could include decisions regarding child custody, division of assets, spousal support, etc.. Additionally, if you fail to respond within the allotted time frame, the court may also issue an order for you to pay attorney’s fees or other costs associated with the proceedings.

It is important to note that even if you are able to avoid being served divorce papers initially, this does not mean that they will never be served. In some cases, courts will allow alternative methods of service such as publication in a newspaper or posting on social media sites. Furthermore, if your spouse can demonstrate that they were unable to serve you through traditional means due to your avoidance tactics, then they may be granted permission by the court for alternative service methods.

What Happens After My Spouse Is Served?

Once your spouse has been officially served with the petition for divorce, they have 30 days (or 60 days if they live out of state) to respond with their answer or counterclaims. It’s also important to note that either you or your spouse can file for an extension if more time is needed to prepare paperwork or discuss settlement terms prior to appearing in court.

If you are considering divorce, Shaw Family Law can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. To get started on your case today, call (205) 259-7650 or complete our online contact form.