Category Archives: Family Law

Uncontested Divorce in Alabama

photo of divorce proceeding

Divorce is a difficult process. For an uncontested divorce, meaning that both spouses agree on everything and do not need the court to divide assets or make determinations about spousal or child support or custody, the process is less time consuming and less costly. For a contested divorce, the parties do not agree and need a third party, often times a court, to intervene, making the divorce process more time consuming and costlier.

What happens when the divorce is contested but one party does not respond? In terms of a lawsuit, a plaintiff is the person filing for the divorce and the defendant is the person not filing for the divorce. Alabama law contemplates a scenario wherein the plaintiff files a complaint seeking divorce and the defendant does not respond. This is called a default divorce.

Default Process

If a case goes before a judge, the judge will determine … Read More

Best Interests of the Child

divorce-best-interests-of-the-child

One of the most difficult and grueling aspects of a divorce or separation is child custody. Studies show that where the child goes and with whom that child associates are crucial factors in shaping the child’s life. Because divorce and separation are difficult for young children, it is imperative that courts properly determine custody arrangements for a child upon the divorce or separation of that child’s parents.

To handle this issue, Alabama family law courts apply a “best interest of the child” standard when determining child custody cases. Read further for a more detailed explanation of this legal standard.

The Tender Years Doctrine

Prior to 1981, when parents disputed rights in child custody, Alabama law provided for the “Tender Years Doctrine,” wherein a child under the age of 7 be in the mother’s care, custody and control, unless there was compelling evidence that the child’s best interest was to be … Read More

New Alabama law raises questions about child support payments for college

As covered in previous articles by the Birmingham divorce attorneys at Parkman White, LLP, the Alabama Supreme Court recently issued a landmark decision in Christopher v. Christopher, which overturned a well-established 24 year old legal precedent within Alabama.  Prior to the opinion in Christopher, which was released on October 4, 2013, non-custodial parents in Alabama could be ordered by a divorce judge to pay post minority support for a child in the form of college tuition and costs.  This now defunct law came into effect with the Alabama Supreme Court case of Bayliss in 1989, which had become black letter law for every Alabama divorce attorney from Birmingham to Dothan and Huntsville to Mobile.

With the ruling in Christopher, Bayliss has now be expressly overturned, meaning a parent can no longer be forced by a divorce court to pay for a child’s college education as part of … Read More

College Payments Can No Longer be Judicially Forced

For over 20 years in the State of Alabama, post-minority “child support” through the payment of college tuition and expenses could be ordered against a non-custodial parent as a form of child support.

This rule came into effect in the late 1980’s with the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling in Bayliss, which became one of the most controversial legal opinions of its time related to divorce, custody, and family law.  The court in Bayliss, held that a custodial parent could petition the Court, prior to a child’s entering college or reaching the age of majority, for post-minority support against the non-custodial parent.  This meant that parents (usually non-custodial fathers although the petitioner in Christopher was a noncustodial mother) could be required to pay college fees and costs, despite the fact that the child had reached the age of majority, which is 19 in Alabama.

However, in the recent … Read More

When Your Inheritance Becomes Our Money

When parties file for divorce, courts consider the current financial situation of both husband and wife, including whether they are working, and any assets that they may have. This is because, if a divorce is granted, courts will attempt to divide the assets of the marriage (known as the marital estate) between the two parties in an effort to ensure that both can continue to life the lifestyle they are accustomed to after the divorce becomes final. This process is known as equitable division of the marital assets.

Generally, if one party has received an inheritance before the beginning of the marriage, it is not counted as marital property and therefore not subject to equitable division. It is possible, however, for a party’s previous inheritance to become part of the marital estate in certain circumstances. If this happens, a former husband or wife may be awarded part or all … Read More

Yeah! Usher Emerges Victorious From Custody Battle

The Pop Star’s Divorce Lawyer Took It Nice & Slow

            Usher, a highly successful pop icon who has been the subject of recent headlines involving a custody dispute with his ex-wife, Tameka Foster, got a ruling Friday that will enable him to retain custody of his child, Usher V. The child was hospitalized earlier in the week after a pool accident in which he got his arm stuck in an underwater drain. Tameka petitioned the court to change their custody agreement, and an “emergency” hearing was held in an Atlanta courtroom. 

            The events that unfolded in the courtroom Friday were nothing short of dramatic. Lasting nearly two hours, evidence heard by the judge included Tameka’s own testimony as well as a tape of the 911 call that was placed immediately after the pool accident. At one point, Tameka broke down on the stand, and lamented that she knows very little … Read More

Leaving the Marital Home When Children Are Involved

The divorce attorneys at the Birmingham firm of Parkman and White, LLC often have divorce and child custody cases where one parent moves out of the marital home, where the children reside, at the request of the other. These requests can take the form of asking for time to breathe, time apart, or other similar issues. However, leaving the marital home prior to initiating a divorce proceeding can have significant legal consequences.

In a custody dispute, the court must determine which parent is the most suitable to have full or joint custody. When considering this issue, courts will consider which parent is the primary caretaker of the children. Especially in the case of minor children, this is normally the parent which remains in the marital home. This is because, in most cases, the minor children continue to reside in the marital home during the divorce proceeding.

As a result, a … Read More

Divorce and Objects with Emotional Value

It is common knowledge that, when two people are getting divorced, assets will be split. This includes both larger items (house, car, other property), liquid assets (bank accounts, retirement accounts), but also items that are more difficult to value. Items with “sentimental value” are considered those that don’t give an economic advantage, but instead they have value because of emotional attachment

For instance, when considering the value of a record collection, and how to divide the records, Alabama courts have considered which party has the greatest attachment to a particular item. Although this can be difficult to determine, courts consider if one party has had the item in their possession, how old the item is, and any other testimony regarding the importance of the item.

Because such items can be divided in a divorce, it is important not to forget about them when you are filling out … Read More

Facebook Status: Divorced

In the recent weeks, our Birmingham divorce attorneys have had several clients embroiled in Alabama divorce cases, which seem to have been caused by social media, primarily Facebook.  This popular social media website allows users to “friend” others and engage in private online communication with members of the opposite sex.  The Facebook site even suggests persons for you to friend, often those that you went to school with, and maybe even dated earlier in your life.  You can then interact with these people, either publicly, by posting information on their public wall, or privately by sending them personal messages for their eyes only.  Mix such opportunity with an unhappy marriage, and it has turned into a temptation many just can’t resist.

A recent survey given to divorce attorneys indicated that 80% of all divorce attorneys have seen an increase in divorce cases caused by social networking sites like Facebook.

To … Read More

Sex Forgives Adultery

If you find out your spouse has cheated on you, and you want to use that as grounds for a divorce, its probably not in your best interest to have any more intimate encounters.  The divorce attorneys at Parkman White, LLP often counsel clients considering divorce due to their spouse’s infidelity.  It is not uncommon for the couple to try to work through their problems before finding it is too difficult and deciding to proceed with the divorce.

However, much of the leverage the faithful spouse had at the time they learned of the cheating spouse’s activity can be lost if they are found to have forgiven the cheating before the divorce is filed.  An old Alabama statute, found at Code of Alabama (1975) §30-2-3, codifies this idea stating:  “No judgment can be entered on the confession of the parties . . . where there has been a condonation of … Read More