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The Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment in Alabama

A divorce in Alabama is the legal termination of a state-approved marriage or civil union. The marriage was valid by statutory definitions of the state, until the court grants the judgement for divorce. Divorce in Alabama is primarily based on fault- grounds.

An annulment differs from divorce in that the union was not valid by state laws from its inception. Circuit Courts in Alabama have original jurisdiction of divorces and annulments in the state.

What is an Alabama Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree in Alabama is a legally binding document that pronounces the end of a marriage or civil union. It also provides the terms of an agreement of settlements such as who has custody of the children, who gets to provide spousal support, and how much of the assets and liabilities go to each person. Although a divorce decree is more or less a court order, it is subject to modification over time if there are legally acceptable reasons to do so. For example, if the child custodian becomes sick or needs to move, the court authority can respond to a request to transfer the custody rights to the other ex-spouse.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

What is an Annulment in Alabama?

An Annulment is a legal action that renders an erstwhile marriage void, as though it never existed. Recipients of an annulment can claim that they were never married. According to Title 30 of the Alabama Revised Statutes, there are at least six legal grounds for annulment in Alabama:

  • Incestuous marriage: a marriage between close relatives violates public policy.
  • Bigamous relationship: in a case where a party is still legally bound to another spouse in matrimony, the present marriage becomes void.
  • Fraudulent acts in the relationship: an example is the case of a party that conceals a pregnancy by another man before marriage. When the present husband finds out, he could file for an annulment. It is a fraud that goes to the core of the marriage.
  • Underage marriage: If the marriage involves a minor and without parental consent, the marriage is void.
  • Forced marriage: Marriage contract under threats of assault or under duress are null.
  • Impotency: Inability to consummate the marriage because of medical disabilities can render a marriage void.
  • Withholding details of an incurable sexually transmitted disease from a spouse: it is especially true if the disease was present at the time of the marriage.

The effect of an annulment can ripple through the legitimacy status of involved children. The courts have jurisdiction in such extended scenarios to determine the paternity and issue child support or custody orders.

Annulment records are a part of vital records of the state, and the public records policy of the state determines the extent of accessibility of the public to them. However, contents that inform on custody allocations, guardianships, contact details of children, etc are non- disclosure items in annulment records. Only persons with a legitimate interest in the records can access them.

Annulment vs Divorce in Alabama

The Judicial process of a divorce and annulment ultimately both lead to the end of a union. A few differences exist between them though:

  • The courts of jurisdiction require at least a 6-month residency of at least one party. Annulment cases need no residency requirement from either party.
  • The Administrative Office of Courts of Alabama provides a variety of self-help forms online. To begin, complete the complaint for divorce and summons forms. Verify the county court to file the forms with. Be sure to state that a party has been resident in the state for at least six months. Provide the legal grounds for divorce according to the state code. Some of them include:
  • Impotency since the time of marriage
  • Adultery
  • Abandonment for at least one year
  • Addictive drunkenness or drug use
  • Medically certifiable mental illness
  • Domestic violence

If there are no legal grounds, parties can file based on a separation of at least two years.

Getting an annulment will require that the filing party fill out the Verified Complaint for Annulment form. Depending on the type of adjoining issues, there may be a need to fill out more forms. Except for custody allocation and determination of paternity, most settlement agreements are not priority in the eyes of the Alabama state laws regarding annulment.

Is an Annulment Cheaper Than Divorce In Alabama?

An annulment in Alabama is cheaper than a divorce in terms of time cost and process. This is because annulment of the state law is a corrective process and not an attempt to adjudicate between two people. However, all annulment cases must pass through the minimum judicial process of filing, hearing, and a court order.

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Alabama?

In an uncontested divorce, both parties mutually consent to the process and also agree on all points of settlement. In such a case, the role of the attorney is to ensure the smooth flow of the legal process. The process follows the usual initiation of filing, service of papers, and a waiting period. Both parties must sign all settlement documents necessary to finalize the divorce. Usually, the filing party’s attorney submits the documents. There is a 30-day waiting time to give both parties allowance to make sure of their decision to follow through with the process.

Where to Get an Uncontested Divorce Form in Alabama?

The Alabama Administrative Office of Courts provides self-help e-forms which are downloadable and printable upon completion. Go to the do-it-yourself forms section and locate the forms of interest. Consult an attorney for clarifications.

The public record policy governing vital records in Alabama allows members of the public access divorce records. Exceptions to the case are contents of the records that are closed to the public access by statute such as financial statements, information about involved children, custody allocations, and guardianships. Also, divorce records placed under a seal will not be accessible to the public except with a court order.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I Get a Copy of my Divorce Decree in Alabama?

Divorcing parties can get copies of their divorce decrees after the court has issued a final decree. Suppose the orders in the decree do not satisfy the divorcing party, they have a right to file an appeal within 42 days of issuance at the court. A divorce decree is a court order that must be adhered to. Defiance of the judgement in a divorce decree makes up a contempt of Court by Alabama state laws.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How Do I Get an Alabama Divorce Decree Online?

Alabama divorce decrees are not available for issue online. The Vital Records Section of the Alabama Public Health Department only provides copies of divorce certificates (certified or uncertified) upon request to inquirers. Divorce decree requests are only processed at the court of jurisdiction over the divorce case.

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