Divorce in the Magic City isn’t necessarily magical. Give us a call for an initial consult at 205-582-2832.
Sometimes in the Magic City couples lose the “magic” in their relationship. They no longer feel the way they once used to, leading to a very expensive fight. Maybe financial problems have torn them apart. Perhaps, it was a vice of some sort like alcohol, marijuana, heroin, excessive brownie intake, or even strippers. Regardless of the core reason that caused the dissolution, those people inevitably have to figure out the best way to split up everything without destroying themselves in the process. They begin googling divorce, child custody, and alimony (we’ve even seen the term “aliMONEY” in our google analytics) and start asking friends for advice. Then they start the divorce process highly educated in a variety of jurisdiction’s principles. They fail to realize that even one county away divorce is vastly different than the Magic City. Sadly, they’re in for a rude awakening when they begin filing things and visiting with attorneys. Here’s a few facts about getting divorced in Birmingham to help you along the way:
- There are thousands of attorneys in the Birmingham area. A large portion of these attorneys handle domestic cases regardless of whether they are truly capable of doing so or not. Since the true nature of domestic or matrimonial law is fact based and ever changing, there are numerous lawyers who thrive in that gray and hide behind the safety of the statement “there’s no guarantee of a good outcome.” Ever since the criminal appointment system in Birmingham dissipated, lawyers who only practiced criminal law are now jumping into the domestic arena with little or no experience. There are lawyers everywhere who practice “threshold law,” meaning they’ll take anything that pays the bills. This has led to an increase in fees because domestic attorneys are forced to either teach the other side what they need to do to make this process move smoothly or deal with the incompetence of the other side. The pleadings and negotiating go downhill. The trials are flooded with nonsensical mess. Just because you found an attorney, doesn’t mean they do what you need. Would you go to an allergist to solve your heart problem?
- As the General of your army, you need to make the proper decision in regards to choosing an attorney right for you. The large amount of attorneys in this area comes with a large variety of attorneys you can choose from. If you are simply googling, you’ll get the people who pay the most for search engine optimization. This doesn’t mean you’re getting an attorney who is right for you. There are a few of those attorneys who will bleed you dry and send you on your way. How do you think they pay to be #1 on Google? If you have a complicated custody issue, look for an attorney that focuses on custody. Many lawyers advertise custody but have never been a Guardian Ad Litem. Ask your lawyer directly what they think an ideal custody situation is. If they are giving you what you want to hear, you know they aren’t looking out for your children first. If you have a high asset divorce, don’t just look for someone who advertises high asset divorces because sometimes…that’s just code for “clients that can afford to pay me.” Do your own research and NEVER hire someone who lists another area of law as their primary area of practice. You may save money at first, but you’ll end up having to hire someone else to clean up what they didn’t understand later.
- You could be waiting at least a year for your day in court. Just because you’re wanting to duke this out in court doesn’t mean that you’ll be in court in the next couple of months. Jefferson County is flooded with divorce cases, and don’t get me started on modifications. Sometimes it takes three months to get a Final Order on an Uncontested Divorce. You have to be patient, and you need someone who knows realistic time expectations, especially when it comes to which Judge is assigned to your case. You are in the largest county in the state. What does that mean? Larger numbers of people flooding the court system.
- Stop assuming that the mother is always getting custody, child support, and alimony. There are some counties where this is a guarantee. This is not one of them. Once again, this depends on your judge, but as a woman do not go in there expecting to win everything simply because you are a woman. As a man, stop giving up everything because you expect that to happen. This is not 1950. If it were, my outfits would be so much cuter. Also, people would never think it was okay to wear jeans to court. It’s not okay to wear jeans to court. Please, if you’re my client, do not ever wear jeans to court.
- There are two divisions for Jefferson County and so
We love the Magic City so much, we put in our firm’s name. We want to be your family’s law firm in the Magic City. 205-582-2832
many courthouses. There is not just one almighty courthouse downtown like most counties in the state of Alabama. Jefferson County separates its domestic courts from the civil court, family court, and the criminal court. They even have another Bessemer Division that handle cases in the Bessemer area. The odds of getting lost without proper guidance are pretty good. Make sure your lawyer informs you of where and when to show up to court.
It’s thirty minutes after trial has ended. The client looks over at her attorney and mutters, “I had witnesses that could have testified to all of that. Why are they saying it’s only my word against his? I have letters, emails, text messages, and even recorded phone calls that can prove what I just testified to! He was lying too. I can prove that in a heartbeat. Look, I’ve got his mistress on speed dial and she said she’d testify to him paying her in diamonds. She said she’d tell the Judge he’d make it rain with diamonds while she was naked on the bed! I even have pictures in my glove compartment to prove that they were doing all this, and a video in my backpack. Oh, and she’s only 16.” The lawyer, who has been prepping for this case for months, worried about no evidence, worked with her client over testimony, is absolutely flabbergasted.
After all this time prepping, talking to the client each and every day, could her client not mention any of this? Was she not listening when her client told her that her ex husband was making it rain with diamonds? There’s absolutely no way. That is something she would surely remember. It comes down to this simple fact: clients keep things from their lawyers. They don’t tell us everything. Okay, the good ones tell us a lot and help us prepare for trial. The ones that keep things from us are the ones that don’t always win their trial because we were missing proof that could’ve helped them. I almost want to say “Well, too little too late.” I don’t though. Instead I think of every way I can to help them tell me what will help them. Which brings us to this:
- If you think it could help your case, then help us help you. Don’t keep anything
5 Ways You Can Help Us Help You!!!
from your lawyer. (There are exceptions to this when it comes to criminal cases.) We suggest that you keep a diary. Write everything down. We don’t have to be phone pals, talking each and every day, but we want to know what’s important. If he is playing “Pretty Pretty Princess” with his mistress, then write it down and bring us proof if you have it! If you want to keep your bill down, then write short little notes to help you remember or to give to us to review. You don’t have to be our pen pal just to keep us informed, but you must tell us. If we were mind readers, we’d all be billionaires.
- Don’t wait to tell us. Write it all down immediately and let us know WAY before trial. If there is Discovery that is due, it might be a good idea to tell us before we do all of that. In order for us to fully prepare, we need ALL your information before the other side gets it. We need to know the good and the bad of our clients, so we are fully prepared to go to trial.
- If you have evidence, stop telling us about it and give it to us. There’s only so much that words can do. Clients can talk a lot of talk, but when it comes to proving their case, they often fall short. Bring us the bacon… or… uh… the smoking gun? We had a client bring us her husband’s lover’s prescription meds boxes and hair out of her shower drain that didn’t match her or her husband’s. Is this gross? Sure, a little, but at least she could prove that girl was in her home and using her shower. If you find naked photos or love letters, bring them to us. We don’t want you to describe them to us.
- Do not hold on to past criminal acts to use against your ex at the last minute. It doesn’t look good for our case. You cannot simply throw mud back and forth when you’re holding onto a time bomb. If you don’t want to use it against them, then by all means, do not use it against them. If you get angry enough to use it against them, it shouldn’t be at the end of the case. You either try to be nice and stay that way, or you bring it up fast. You should tell your lawyer about this time bomb before it is ready to explode. The last thing we want to do after negotiating a visitation schedule for four weeks is to then say, oh never mind, she’s been having an affair with a student at school for the past year. The Judge’s reaction if that comes out after multiple hearings will not only be disbelief but distrust.
- Just communicate. We know when it comes to lawyers that talk isn’t cheap. However, if you don’t talk to us because you fear the money implications of it all, then you end up only cheating yourself. Be effective by keeping a diary. Come in for short meetings where you stay on track telling us the high notes. Don’t call every day, but call and keep us informed. Make and keep appointments. Get us evidence without us having to work extra hard for it. Call your witnesses and talk to them before we do so they know what to expect. Be open with everyone, and your case will be economically efficient for you and time efficient for your attorney!
Divorce and Family Law are hard realms to predict. Give us a call today to see if the odds are in YOUR favor! 205-582-2832
We inevitably get asked, “how many cases do you win?” or “what’s your records for these types of cases” or “is my case a winnable case?” The issue is that we’re not civil attorneys. This isn’t a car wreck. I know sometimes the complete disaster that your relationship has become feels like some sort of car wreck as a euphemism of sorts, but the types of law are not comparable. There are numerous factors that come into play that make such simplified questions almost funny. We stress that no results are predicted. We can, however, almost guarantee that all of our cases will end in a divorce, but the funny part of that is that it still depends on you. Here are a few factors that you need to consider before trying to make your lawyer’s ability to “win” your case so black and white:
- You may be the villain. We don’t know whether you’re a great person or not. We met you just like you met us. It may have been through a friend or family member, but each of us has deep dark secrets that others don’t know. We may begin to represent you, and low and behold your deep dark secret is the equivalent to demonic possession. We can only do so much when our client is really not the “victim,” regardless of whether he or she feels victimized. Further, we can only prove so much to the Judge as far as parenting when the other side is able to see through your mask and is able to do so in front of the Judge.
- Your ex may be Mother Theresa. Similar to how you could truly be Voldemort of sorts, your ex could be perfection. He or she could practically be a saint and no matter what you do, they can 1-up you in the eyes of the court, the law, and your case. You could be stating what a great influence you are, but no matter what, they could be doing it better than you. We can show how wonderful you are all day long, you may come up smelling like roses, but if the other side comes up smelling like cookies, it’s going to be hard to beat.
- Case law is hard to overcome. We can try to overcome some case that we feel is unfair and ridiculous, but there’s this thing called stare decisis which means “to stand by things decided.” Basically, for you, it means that as different as you are, as different as your facts are, the law must be followed as it was in similar cases. This is one thing that is forever stagnant. We can attempt to show the facts in such a way as to differentiate your case, but the Judge will not reinvent the wheel for each case. If they did, could you imagine how backed up our court systems would be?
- Evidence is essential. We have the responsibility of “proving” your case through evidence. You can tell us all day long that someone said something to you that gave you concern, but we can’t prove to the court what was said unless we bring proof. Just like when we first met each other, the Judge doesn’t know you. They can’t take your word for it because, as it was said above, you could be the villain in all this. Lying under oath is not beneath a majority of people. It may seem like a big deal to some, but there are a large amount of people who do it without blinking an eye. If you want to say that you saw your husband token up on the weekends, bring us a picture. If you want to say that your wife is diddling the soccer coach, bring us video proof. If your husband is letting your brother in law tattoo the children, make sure the children are there to show the judge the tattoos. If your wife’s mother is making poisonous potions and putting it in your soup, bring us 1) the soup 2) a scientist that has tested it and 3) video of her actually attempting to poison you. We can only do so much work without assistance from our clients.
- It all comes down to the Judge. Regardless of what you want, how your trial goes, what facts you present, how you feel about your case, what witnesses turn up, what your lawyer says, what the opposing attorney says, what evidence you give us, none of it matters if the Judge doesn’t want to give you what you want. Some judges are anti-alimony; some are very pro joint custody. Filing for divorce is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. You might end up with pure milk chocolate and caramel, or you might end up with one of those nasty raspberry filled pieces. Be prepared to change your expectations depending on which judge you get. It’s very rare that you’ll get another!
Is your spouse taking you to Taco Bell but their lover to Ruth’s Chris? Give Meyer, Middleton, & DeLuca a call at 205-202-0070
You’ve just come home to find your significant other is “working” late yet again. You’ve been resisting the urge to look at the internet history on your computer because you’re concerned it’ll only confirm you worst fears. You’ve noticed the late nights keep getting later and later. You’ve noticed you’re being seduced less and less. You’re beginning to feel as attractive as Michael Jackson post his 90th plastic surgery or Gilbert Grape’s mother. You finally decide that maybe it’s time to check your spouse’s credit card statements to see your spouse is lying about the long nights at work. You find a few things on there that don’t make sense, but you aren’t sure what is a sign that your spouse should come home to find the house re-keyed, or if you are simply overreacting. According to a new survey conducted on the, oh so wonderfully immoral website ashleymadison.com (which by the way is a website for men looking to cheat on their wives) the things you should be weary of are (you can check out the entire list here):
- Expensive Chain Steak Restaurants: If your spouse is a man who’s buying the girl steak, he’s probably expecting her to put out. If your spouse is a woman doing the wooing, she knows he’ll put out for steak. Truthfully, one can’t go wrong when it comes to a good steak, unless he or she is having an affair with a vegetarian. With it being low carb, the paramour (that’s fancy for lover) is less likely to gain some chub. It’s a win-win. It seems fancy, but since it’s a chain, it’s probably not too fancy. Examples of the favorite places in the survey that are in Birmingham: Ruth’s Chris ,Outback, Red Lobster ,and Flemings
- Chain restaurants in general: These places are crowded, so your spouse is less likely to get noticed. Then, if they are noticed, there’s the old standby of “Well, why would I be so stupid as to be out in public with someone if I were cheating?” Examples of the favorite places in the survey that are in Birmingham: Chili’s, P.F. Changs and Cheesecake Factory
- Hotels: The thing is, these restaurants probably aren’t the golden ticket to proving that your spouse is cheating. Unless there is a hotel nearby, the probability of the cheating isn’t very high. Working up an appetite at work isn’t unheard of, but working one up then going to eat at a Chili’s with a Holiday Inn attached is a flashing warning sign. The survey pointed out that most of these dark lovely steakhouses and restaurants were usually pretty close to a hotel, because we all know what comes after a good steak and a few glasses of wine.
- Anything over 20 miles from your house: Drama in the suburbs = many successful seasons of desperate housewives. No one is stupid enough to cheat in public in their own neighborhood. I take that back. Most people who are able to hide their cheating, won’t do it in their own neighborhood. They will choose a place in the busy part of town, while their spouse is at home with the kids. They will choose a place that is dark and crowded with strangers. That way they aren’t risking a drink in the face, a foot to the crotch, or a phone call to a divorce attorney.
I’m a T.V. junkie. I adore television because for a brief moment I can just absorb myself into something and not think so hard. My mind is always on overdrive, so the brief break is very welcome. However, while watching my Sunday shows last night I began thinking about today’s blog. I was watching Betrayal (ah, now that makes sense). If you haven’t checked out the show, watch it.
The thing is, Betrayal is based on a steamy affair. It begins with a man and woman meeting and having this unbelievable attraction to each other immediately. They begin seeing each other secretly (both of them are married to other people). Of course, their lives are completely tangled up in each other because apparently the woman’s husband and her lover are actually opponents in court, BUT without that little twist, the idea behind the show, betrayal of a spouse is quite common.
This is evidenced by the saturation of adultery in television and the news. From Khloe Kardashian to Scandal (whew, that’s one amazing show) adultery is running rapid on television. People are drawn to these stories. Why? Because art mimics life. Adultery is the epitome of drama. It is secretive, dirty, and messy. It causes pain and pleasure at the same time. People want to hear about it and they want the details.
The Six Truths Behind Adultery
It’s almost shocking to NOT hear adultery as a reason for divorce. It’s so common that I’m no longer shocked to hear the details of people’s sex lives. It isn’t behind closed doors so much anymore but out in the open. The reason it isn’t such a big deal is because adultery isn’t the end all be all. There is a misconception that adultery means that the adulterer will have to pay alimony or, in the alternative, the adulterer will not receive alimony , or even that it can truly affect custody battles. What does it really mean if you prove your spouse committed adultery?
- It’s a factor in the fault of the divorce. If there were problems way before the adultery started it may not be the actual reason for the divorce. A judge must weigh the facts to determine why the couple is truly getting a divorce. Did the husband belittle his wife, calling her fat and not worth his love for years before she sought another man’s arms? Did the wife wait for her husband to go to work every day to provide for his family before sneaking out to see his brother?
- It’s a factor in determining alimony. It is not means for punishing either spouse. There are a multitude of factors in determining whether a spouse will get alimony. Similar to above, the Judge needs to weigh all the factors to determine fault and to determine the need for alimony.
- It’s a factor in determining custody. Normally if a spouse is committing adultery it is not a reason to deny custody, unless that spouse is being so reckless as to commit the adultery in front of the minor children. If the children are exposed to extremely immoral behavior, the judge will step in. However, if the adultery is happening late at night while the children are asleep or even during the day while the children are at school or daycare, the weight will be much less.
- Adultery isn’t extremely easy to prove. Of course it’s easier than most things in court to prove because the court system realizes that adultery is something that is done in secret, behind closed doors, and (sometimes) in the dark. It is something that people try hard to hide and when they don’t that’s when people get caught. Basically, you have to prove adultery through by having someone testify or give facts in such a way that the court can infer that adultery was committed. (Private investigator’s testimony, a witness who saw your spouse at the motel with the other person, testimony of you walking in on them).
- Post separation sexual relations cannot prove adultery alone. The adultery must have started before married couple decided to get a divorce. If you decide to file for divorce, move out, THEN you decide that you’re going to pursue something, that’s not exactly adultery.
- Adultery IS a crime. It just isn’t one that the state really prosecutes. That means you can plead the 5th when asked about the adultery you committed.