Norton Law

1-334-874-4400

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DO I QUALIFY FOR A LOW COST UNCONTESTED DIVORCE?

WAIT!
BEFORE YOU CALL, ANSWER THESE SIX QUESTIONS:
DO I QUALIFY FOR A LOW COST UNCONTESTED DIVORCE?
1. Are you sure your marriage can not be saved and that it has reached its end?
2. Are you still on speaking terms with your spouse?
3. Can you and your spouse reach an agreement and let me know what it is?
4. Do you trust your spouse to follow through and sign the paperwork?
5. Do either you or your spouse live in the State of Alabama other than in Madison or Etowah County?
6. Do you want a divorce on the grounds of incompatibility?

If your answers to all of these questions is yes, then it is very likely you qualify, and we need to talk. You are one of the lucky people who will save a lot of time and money on your divorce.

OTHER COMMON QUESTIONS:

WHAT IS AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE?
WHAT ARE MY FEES?
HOW MUCH ARE THE COURT COSTS?
WILL THERE BE OTHER COSTS OR EXPENSES INVOLVED?
WILL I BE REQUIRED TO GO TO CO-PARENTING CLASSES?
IS THERE AN EXTRA CHARGE TO GO BACK TO MY MAIDEN NAME?
WHAT IF I NEED A QDRO ORDER?
CAN I HAVE ALIMONY IN AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE?
HOW LONG DOES MY SPOUSE HAVE TO SIGN THE PAPERWORK ONCE THEY RECEIVE IT?
CAN WE TALK WITH YOU TOGETHER TO TELL YOU OUR AGREEMENT?
IF MY SPOUSE DOESN'T SIGN THE PAPERWORK, WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
CAN I HAVE A REFUND IF MY SPOUSE DOES NOT SIGN THE PAPERWORK?
I'M NOT SURE IF MY MARRIAGE CAN BE SAVED, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
WHAT IF I LIVE IN MADISON OR ETOWAH COUNTY?
WHAT IF I WANT A DIVORCE ON THE GROUNDS OF ADULTERY?
WHAT IF MY SPOUSE AGREES ON EVERYTHING, EXCEPT CHILD SUPPORT?
WHAT IF I CAN'T FIND MY SPOUSE?



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WHAT IS AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE?

It is a divorce by agreement. We simply put your agreement into writing, draft the pleadings needed by the Court, put your testimony into a written format, and submit it to the Clerk online for the Judge to review. If the Judge has everything needed, and everything looks good, we will not even need to go to Court for a hearing. No wasted time waiting on those hard wooden benches in the courtroom for the tedious divorce docket to be called. Your case skips to the front of the line, and the Judge will usually enter an Order granting your divorce on the terms you have agreed.



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WHAT ARE MY FEES?

If you have children together, my fee to draft the divorce paperwork is $249. If there are no children, the attorney fee to draft the paperwork is only $199.



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HOW MUCH ARE THE COURT COSTS?

The amount of the court costs vary from County to County across the State of Alabama. They range from around $200 to $300. (In Dallas County, they are currently $211). They seem to go up all the time. And yes, you will have to pay this in addition to my attorney fee. This has to be paid to the Clerk's office in order to file your paperwork with the Court. Once we have decided the County where we will be filing the case, we will let you know how much the court costs are.



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WILL THERE BE OTHER COSTS OR EXPENSES INVOLVED?

If there is real property involved, then after the divorce is completed, you will need to have a deed prepared to convey the property from one spouse to the other. You can choose any attorney you like to prepare this deed for you. If you choose us, we typically charge $100 to prepare the deed. Once the deed has been signed it will need to be filed in the Probate Court of the County where the real property is located, and they will also charge a filing fee, which will vary depending on the value of the property.



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WILL I BE REQUIRED TO GO TO CO-PARENTING CLASSES?

Maybe. Some Judges require both parents to complete co-parenting classes if there are children involved in your marriage. There is typically a small fee that you pay to the counselors for those classes. And some Judges let you complete these classes online. After you get your certificates of completion to us, we file these with the Court.



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IS THERE AN EXTRA CHARGE TO GO BACK TO MY MAIDEN NAME?

No. I charge the same fee whether you decide you want to keep your married name or go back to a prior name. However, do keep in mind, that you may have some small expenses involved later to change your driver's license, and make changes to other documents after the divorce is completed.



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WHAT IF I NEED A QDRO ORDER?

In cases where you have agreed that a spouse in a divorce is entitled to some part of your retirement account, we will need to submit a QDRO order to the Judge, ordering the retirement plan to release the funds. Each plan requires very specific language that must be obtained from the administrators of the plan - or its lawyers. Otherwise, the retirement plan will reject or even contest the release of the money. If you are able to get this language yourself, and let us know what it is, we will include it with your divorce for no additional charge. If you need our help dealing with the retirement plan administrator, we can typically help you obtain this information for about $100. We will need cooperation from both parties to accomplish this. There may be other rare instances where you need an attorney to do some extra work, and if those situations arise, we will discuss that before you incur a charge so that you can make a fully informed decision.



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CAN I HAVE ALIMONY IN AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE?

Yes. Anything that the two of you agree to include in the divorce agreement, we can include. However, if you feel you are entitled to alimony, and your spouse does not agree to pay it, then you will need to go with a litigated contested divorce instead. An uncontested divorce is only for spouses who have reached an agreement as to all of the terms.



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HOW LONG DOES MY SPOUSE HAVE TO SIGN THE PAPERWORK ONCE THEY RECEIVE IT?

They can take as long as they like. Remember, this is a divorce by agreement, not a litigated divorce where a party has formal time limits to Answer the Complaint during litigation. If you don't trust your spouse to sign the paperwork and mail it back within a reasonable time, uncontested divorce is not for you. You can not make your spouse agree to an uncontested divorce, no matter how much you may want to do so. You know your spouse better than I do. Be sure that you trust them to sign, before you contact me to begin the process. Once i have drafted your paperwork, I have earned the attorney fee. If your spouse is not going to sign, you are throwing this money away, and you may be better off just going with a contested divorce.



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CAN WE TALK WITH YOU TOGETHER TO TELL YOU OUR AGREEMENT?

Absolutely. We can even have a telephone conference call, if needed. If there is any doubt in your mind about whether this will work, this is a great way to proceed. By inviting your spouse to meetings, this gives your spouse some level of comfortthat the things he or she wants in the paperwork will be included, and gives better assurance they will sign the paperwork when it is ready.



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IF MY SPOUSE DOESN'T SIGN THE PAPERWORK, WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

One option is simply to wait patiently. Sometimes a spouse just needs a little more time to let go of the marriage. Allowing a little more time sometimes works.

Another option is to talk with your spouse and find out why they won't sign. If I have included something in the paperwork incorrectly, I will gladly correct it for no charge, and send out new paperwork to your spouse. If your spouse has second thoughts about the fairness of the agreement, you can re-negotiate, if you like. If you come to a new agreement, I will usually re-draft the paperwork for you with your new changes for around $50.

A third option, is to go with a contested divorce. This is where you hire lawyers to litigate with one another for months upon years, until the Judge finally hears your case, and enters an Order that neither of you like. Sometimes, this is the only way to go.



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CAN I HAVE A REFUND IF MY SPOUSE DOES NOT SIGN THE PAPERWORK?

If your spouse does not sign, I will refund the courts costs to you upon request. However, if I have already drafted the paperwork, I will have earned my fee, and my fee will not be refunded to you. My job is just to prepare the paperwork. Remember, I can not guarantee that your spouse will sign the paperwork. And I don't know your spouse as well as you do. If you are not sure your spouse will sign it, and you can't afford the potential loss, then don't gamble with your hard earned money; uncontested divorce is simply not for you.



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I'M NOT SURE IF MY MARRIAGE CAN BE SAVED, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Please try to find a counselor, a pastor, or a friend whom both of you trust, and try resolving your marital issues. There are a lot of great counselors and pastors in our local area, many who will meet with couples for no charge to help them work things out. I will be glad to recommend one for you. Please just ask. Do not try going with an uncontested divorce until you have tried saving your marriage, and you are sure that it just won't work.



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WHAT IF I LIVE IN MADISON OR ETOWAH COUNTY?

Unfortunately, the Judges in those counties require court hearings in all cases, even uncontested divorces. This makes it uneconomical to file an uncontested divorce in those counties. So, I will not be able to do an uncontested divorce for you there for such a low fee. The travel time alone would consume my entire day. Similarly, you would have to leave work to go sit on those hard benches to wait your turn for a hearing. If you do live in one of those counties, please call me anyway, to see if any exceptions may apply to you. For instance, your spouse may live in a different county, where it is economical to file for uncontested divorce. In that case, and in some other situations, we can sometimes find a way to file it in a different county.



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WHAT IF I WANT A DIVORCE ON THE GROUNDS OF ADULTERY?

Certain grounds for divorce, such as adultery require a court hearing with live testimony. In order to charge such low fees, we have to avoid, as much as possible, sitting through long Court dockets all over the State. Therefore, the only uncontested divorces we do, are those where the reason for divorce is incompatibility, (meaning, essentially, that the two of you don't get along anymore). If you want a divorce on other grounds, you should find a lawyer in your area to file it as a contested divorce, as you will need a court hearing.



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WHAT IF MY SPOUSE AGREES ON EVERYTHING, EXCEPT CHILD SUPPORT?

In that case, we can't do an uncontested divorce for you. We will need a complete agreement on all issues in order to file your case as an uncontested divorce. Where children are involved, we have to follow the law, and make sure that the legally required child support is included in the agreement and proposed order. We will calculate this amount by taking the information you provide us, and inputting it into the statutorily provided child support formula. Judges will simply not sign off on a divorce unless we have followed these laws. So, unfortunately you will not be able to successfully complete an uncontested divorce in this situation. Instead, you could go with a contested divorce, or if you are patient, try this: Call your local County DHR, and ask to speak to someone in the child support division. Make an appointment to meet with them, and take them your income information, and information about the children involved. They will, with the assistance of the County District Attorney's office, file for child support for you. Someone from the District Attorney's office will represent you for free when you go to court. And you will probably have to go to court at least once to establish child support. Once child support has been ordered by your child support Judge, approach your spouse again, and see if they are now willing to do an uncontested divorce. With the child support issue behind you, your spouse may now be willing to sign uncontested divorce paperwork. In the divorce, we will simply show the Judge that child support has already been legally established.



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WHAT IF I CAN'T FIND MY SPOUSE?

Sorry, you don't qualify. At least not yet. Your spouse must be found to sign the paperwork in an uncontested divorce. A divorce where you don't know your spouse's location is far more expensive. First, the Judge will require you to use every reasonable effort to locate your spouse - sending letters to the last known address, to mutual friends and family members, and you may even need to show the Judge you have searched google, facebook, and one of the people finder websites. If you do that, the show the Judge the necessary proof of what you have done, the Judge may give you permission to publish a legal notice in the local newspaper. Newspapers charge an arm and a leg to publish legal notices. Then, after waiting for a response to the legal notice, if your spouse doesn't answer, your lawyer can file a motion for default judgment, which requires an additional $50 or more in court costs. The lawyer also spends more time drafting your affidavits, motions, etc., and in all the waiting, the clerk or Judge may set your case for a status hearing mulitple times, and so the legal fees are much higher too. But these are the days of the internet. Your odds of finding your spouse are very high if you just spend a little time doing it. Try searching the people finder sites yourself, because if you succeed, your spouse may be willing to do an uncontested divorce, saving both of you a lot of time and money.