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
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.