Some Thoughts From A Birmingham Divorce Lawyer For Those Thinking Of Divorce
If I could tell just three things to a person who is facing the prospect of a divorce, it would be these things:
Going through a divorce takes a toll on the mind, body and spirit; it will physically and mentally drain you. You will get through it, and it will be much less devastating if you have someone that not only knows the law, but who has been there themselves.
You should not go at it alone. Divorces are more complicated than most people and even some lawyers believe. A divorce can have an impact on your financial life, your health, your ability to relocate, your retirement, and almost all other areas of your life. Good advice and counsel are essential, particularly when you may not be at your very best mentally and physically.
It is ok to stand up for your rights and demand that you be treated fairly. Divorces have a tendency to get contentious. Simply put, there is no way to divide a pie in such a way that everyone ends up with a whole pie. There are winners and losers and compromises will have to be made. You need to know what it important to you and what is worth fighting for or what is worth letting go. You and your lawyer need to be prepared to stand your ground.
NUMBER ONE BEST ADVICE – TALK TO A DIVORCE LAWYER
I believe that one of the biggest mistakes people make is to decide that they want to pursue a divorce and take actions to make that happen before they go and talk to a lawyer. To put it simply, divorces, like relationships come in all shapes and sizes. No two are exactly alike, and the outcome depends on the specific people and facts involved in the situation. What works in one case may not work in another. You cannot handle your divorce based on casual advise from friends and family. You need professional help. That being said, I would suggest that if you are thinking of divorce or separation, you should seek out a Birmingham, Alabama divorce lawyer and talk to them about your situation. Call Amber Ladner, Chip Bradford, or Meredith Maitrejean at 205-802-8823. We are Bradford Ladner, LLP. We have over 30 years of combined courtroom experience, and we would love to talk to you about your situation. What follows below are some thoughts and general comments that I hope will address some of the more basic questions of those thinking of divorce.
“HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE” – THE TIMETABLE OF AN ALABAMA DIVORCE
Answering the question of how long it takes to get a divorce is no simple matter. Perhaps the biggest factor is whether the divorce is contested or not. If you and your spouse agree that you should get divorced and both agree as to issues of property division, custody and child support, then the matter is fairly straightforward and could take as little as a few months to complete.
On the other hand, if there are disagreements over custody, the appropriate amount of child support, and the division of property, the road will be a great deal longer. Other factors come into play at that point, such as where the divorce will be heard. Some Alabama counties have much lower case loads than others. On the other hand, most more populous counties have a greater number of judges to handle the case load. As for a Birmingham divorce, Jefferson County has three full time judges that hear nothing other than divorce cases each day. While they have a heavy case load due to the population of the county, they are particularly in tune with divorce and family law issues and for the most part can move their cases along quite rapidly.
Other factors include whether the parties can mediate a settlement of the divorce or whether the only option to resolve the case is a trial. Settlements have distinct advantages including the ability to decide your own destiny both time wise and in terms of the actual terms of your divorce decree. All in all, the best that can be said is that an Alabama divorce may take as little as several months or as long as a year or more.
“WHAT DO I DO IN THE MEANTIME” – TEMPORARY ARRAIGNMENTS WHILE AN ALABAMA DIVORCE IS PENDING
It is possible to put a temporary agreement in place between divorcing parties while the final divorce works its way to a conclusion. Such an agreement can be the product of an agreement the parties reach between themselves, or it can be the result of a “pendent lite” hearing in which the court decides the best way to maintain the status quo between the parties until the divorce is finalized by settlement or trial. The agreement or order can include such things as temporary child custody arrangements and temporary alimony. It is a guide for the rights and duties of the parties until the divorce case is finalized either by trial or agreement.
“IS IT BEST TO TRY MY CASE, OR TO SETTLE WITH MY SPOUSE” – BOTH OPTIONS HAVE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
I can truthfully say that the top advantage of entering into a settlement to resolve your divorce case is the fact that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse remain in control of the resolution of every issue involved in your divorce. What I mean by this, is that by negotiating a settlement, you can be as specific and detailed as you would like on any issue and handcrafted agreement that works best for you and the other party. As I’ve stated before every divorce is different, each of our lives have their unique features and the relationships that we are leaving behind in a divorce are as unique as the people involved.
By settling your case based upon an agreement you can deal with even the most minute issue in the marriage. In contrast, when a divorce cases tried not everything will be resolved as you desire, and at times some things are left either completely unresolved are only partially resolved. This is a product of the inherent limits of time and communication. A divorce court judge will do their dead level best to allow the parties to air out their controversies, to listen to all of the evidence, and to attempt to reach a judgment which is fair, just, and equitable.
Divorce trials can last an afternoon or they can last several weeks. It all depends on the number of issues in the amount of evidence involved. In any case, however, there is a limit to the amount of information that any judge can digest and reasonably be considered to use in formulating a judgment. Because of this not every minute detail of your marriage may be resolved in a judgment that results from a trial. Certainly the major issues involved such as custody, child support, alimony, a division of the marital property, considerations of retirement, and other financial considerations will be resolved. However they may not be resolved after a trial in as much detail or as in a workable manner as you would like. Because of these things, it is often preferable to make serious attempts to reach a negotiated settlement of your divorce case.
However, there are often times when an agreement simply cannot be reached. At times there are certain issues between divorcing parties that can not and will not be resolved in a negotiated settlement. Often times divorcing parties cannot agree on a workable custody arrangement. Other times the parties are unwilling or unable to reach a meeting of the minds as to the appropriate disposition of the marital property. There is nothing wrong with failing to reach a negotiated settlement. You do have your rights and you have every right as a party in a divorce to assert your rights to a fair share of the assets, a fair relationship with your children, and an appropriate level of alimony and child support as required. There’s nothing wrong with fighting for your rights and going to trial. The hard part in a divorce case is making the decision in determination of what is and what is not worth fighting for in terms of going to trial. A seasoned and experienced Alabama divorce lawyer can help you clarify the categories of issues and questions that you have in reach a determination as to whether the issue that you find is a deal breaker is the issue that truly needs to be litigated in a trial. Communication with your lawyer is key. You need to be able to express to them the reasons why you feel certain things are issues are so important and worth fighting for.
MORE TO COME…..I will be actively adding more comments, facts and thoughts in the near future, so check back periodically. In the meantime, if you have a question, please do not hesitate to call. 205-802-8823