How Long Does a Divorce Take in Alabama?

Depending on various circumstances, the divorce timeline in Alabama is from 4 weeks to 12 months or more. If you are interested in “How long does a divorce take in Alabama in my case?”, it is impossible to determine exactly what the duration of a divorce process will be without considering whether you have minor children and disputes with your spouse regarding the division of property, alimony payments, custody of children, etc.

From this article, you will learn the average duration of marriage dissolution for contested and uncontested cases and get an answer to the question, “How long do you have to be separated before divorce in Alabama?” If you have already resolved all the disputes regarding the terms of divorce and need help preparing forms for filing with the court, our online service is always ready to assist you in completing the paperwork required.

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Alabama?

The minimum duration of divorce in uncontested cases is equal to the waiting period established within the state, which is 30 days from filing the complaint and summons with the court (Ala. Code § 30-2-8.1). Answering the question, “How long does an uncontested divorce take in Alabama on average?”, it is worth noting that the divorce timeline can be from just over 4 to 6-7 weeks.

If you are interested in “How long does it take to get a divorce in Alabama if your case is definitely uncontested?”, the  answer will largely depend on the court’s workload and its ability to consider your case immediately after the Alabama divorce waiting period ends.

Typically, agreed-upon divorces take less time than contested ones because spouses have already agreed on the terms of marriage dissolution and will not be involved in legal battles to fight for their rights in court. To finalize your divorce process, you should enter into an agreement, and if the court considers it fair, the judge will issue a divorce decree.

So, how much does it cost to file for divorce in Alabama?

Currently, the filing fee fluctuates from $200 to $350 across the state. If the petitioner’s finances are insufficient to cover this payment and they can prove it, a filing fee can be waived. However, it is typically a mandatory part of a divorce cost. 

Another part of a divorce cost in Alabama is a fee for serving documents to a defendant. Usually, a petitioner hires a sheriff, constable, or process server, and such assistance should be paid for additionally; the prices vary from county to county.

The second type of divorce payments involves expenses on attorneys, mediation, property appraisals, child custody evaluators, etc.

The type of divorce and case specifics will determine divorce cost in Alabama. It depends on whether a couple needs third-party assistance to resolve divorce issues or can apply for a simple divorce and keep all expenses at the lowest possible level.

Below, you can find information on the average cost of a divorce in Alabama if you are on amicable terms with your spouse, the average cost of divorce that is contested, and possible expenses on divorce lawyers.

How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in Alabama?

The contested cases are more stressful and extended than uncontested ones. Their duration usually starts from 2-3 months and can reach 11-12 months or more. When asking, “How long does a contested divorce take in Alabama?”, you need to consider many factors that can affect the overall divorce timeline.

A contested case means that you and your spouse have disagreements regarding where your children will live, who will maintain them, what amount of alimony one of you will receive, how you will divide your joint property, etc. The more disagreements you have, the longer the marriage dissolution will be.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Alabama specifically in your case? No one can tell for sure in advance  since it depends on how quickly your divorce process progresses, how many court hearings will be required, whether the judge will order family counseling, etc. Once all divorce terms have been resolved, the judge will terminate your marital relations.

An uncontested divorce is not only simpler and faster than a contested one but also more budget-friendly. Sometimes, spouses who want to narrow down a divorce cost to filing and serving fees only decide to manage the paperwork on their own. Others who don’t want to risk making mistakes in divorce forms order them from a credible online service. This option can slightly raise the cost of divorce in Alabama but will ensure the spouses get the required paperwork ready to be filed with the court.

Another divorce method that is gaining popularity nowadays is online divorce. If partners are going to apply for marriage dissolution together, they can prepare all forms and submit them via an online portal, which is very convenient and fast. Besides, online divorce costs are slightly lower than traditional in-person filing.

No matter what divorce option you choose, the cost of uncontested divorce in Alabama will still be much lower than that of a contested procedure.

How Long Does a Divorce Case Stay Open in Alabama?

The moment you file a complaint with the court, your divorce case is opened. It is closed when the judge grants you marriage dissolution and signs the divorce decree. According to the Alabama Code, divorce cannot be finalized until the Alabama divorce waiting period expires. Although the state laws do not provide for any mandatory separation of the spouses, the couple should wait a month before their case can be closed. This period is set by law to give the parties time to reconsider their decision and potentially reconcile. Therefore, the minimum time a case remains open is 30 days after you submit the final paperwork to the clerk’s office.

The maximum divorce timeline will depend on when the judge will issue the divorce decree, and the deadlines will be affected by the specific circumstances of the marriage dissolution, the presence of disputes between spouses, the court schedule, etc.

If one of the parties does not agree with the court’s decision, they may file an appeal. In this situation, the case will remain open until the request is considered. Each spouse can appeal the divorce decision within 60 days after the divorce process has been finalized. This period is provided within the state to prevent the re-marrying of spouses other than each other after terminating their marriage (Ala. Code § 30-2-10).

On the other hand, a divorce case may be closed earlier if spouses decide to reconcile and restore the marital relationship after filing a complaint, for example. In this case, they need to withdraw the complaint, and the lawsuit will be finished.

Over the years, the number of contested divorces in the state has dropped. The main reason is the spouses’ desire to get a simpler, quicker, and cheaper marriage dissolution. Therefore, cases that initially started as contested may become simple divorces when spouses contact mediation specialists for help. Such experts usually charge $150-$300 per hour. Even if you need several mediation sessions to settle your disputes, your cost of contested divorce in Alabama will still be lower than when hiring an attorney.

If people manage to turn their contested divorce into an uncontested one, they may want to simplify the case even further by delegating tedious document preparation to reputable services. The online divorce cost when ordering case-specific papers from a web service varies from $150 to $200.

When Is a Divorce Final in Alabama?

A divorce is finalized within the state when the judge has issued a divorce decree. When answering the question, “How long does it take for a divorce to be final in Alabama?”, you need to consider all the case circumstances. The total divorce timeline can be from 30 days allotted for the waiting period to 6-12 months or more, depending on how quickly all disputes regarding the divorce terms can be resolved.

The key factor determining “How long does it take to finalize a divorce in Alabama?” is the Alabama divorce waiting period. It is the minimum time required for the divorce process. Its maximum duration cannot be determined in advance.

If either spouse files an appeal, the case will be resumed in court although the divorce decree has already been signed. The divorce will not be final until the judge considers the appeal.

Thus, marriage dissolution is finalized only when the last hearing in the case has ended and the judge has made a decision on divorce. Depending on whether your case is contested or not, what were the grounds for terminating the marital relationship, etc., the divorce timeframe can vary significantly from 1 month to 10-12 months or even more.

The average fees for a divorce lawyer in Alabama per hour are $200-$500. However, lawyers may also follow other pricing models:

  • Flat fee. Clients have to pay a predetermined amount for the entire case. Flat attorney fees can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the case’s complexity.
  • Retainer fee. It is a lump sum deposited into a trust account and used to cover hourly fees as the attorney works on the case. As the retainer is depleted, clients may need to replenish it, and a total divorce lawyer cost may be rather high.

It is difficult to calculate the exact divorce cost in Alabama when you hire an attorney. However, if you choose a reputable family lawyer who works in a big city and has a busy schedule, you will likely spend a significant sum.

If you need a lawyer solely for preparing divorce papers, you may consider our service as an alternative. The online divorce cost is much lower, and the turnaround time is shorter when you order divorce forms from us.