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If you are searching for informative and helpful information regarding divorce and family law issues in Alabama, you've come to the right place. Mobile and Baldwin County attorney Jim Jeffries provides monthly posting and updates, including informative articles and helpful reviews on current divorce-related news events. Our firm has more than two decades experience in our practice areas and is dedicated to providing excellent service and skilled representation for each of our clients. We also seek to further the education of each of our clients regarding divorce matters, so check back regularly for more information on Alabama Family Law! 

Jim Jeffries

Jim Jeffries

Tuesday, 18 December 2012 07:10

Alabama Divorce Preparation

A while back, I wrote a series of articles on Alabama Divorce Preparation. The article explored what someone facing divorce ought to do to best protect themselves under Alabama divorce laws. Recently, I have noticed that many people have been coming to this blog looking for information on Alabama divorce laws, but particularly on preparing for divorce.

For that reason, I thought it would be helpful to direct you to the final article I wrote on Alabama Divorce Preparation. If you visit that page, it will show you each of the 13 Steps I outlined and includes a link so you can get more information for each one. I hope it is helpful to you.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012 07:10

How to Stop Your Divorce

I read a lot of articles on divorce. I am always tracking what is going on in my field and trying to pass on good information to the readers of my Alabama Family Law Blog. Recently, I have noticed a lot of articles with the headline: How to Stop Your Divorce! I’ve noticed that most of these lead to sites that are selling some product to people facing divorce. Perhaps, some of these products are worthwhile. But, I can’t help but think some of these are simply an attempt to play on the emotions of someone going through one of the worst times of their lives.

The fact is, under Alabama divorce laws, if one of the spouses insists on a divorce, they are going to get it. There is nothing you can do to stop. You can make it take longer, and you can make it cost more money (but why would you want to?), but you can’t stop it. I tell my divorce clients all of the time, “It takes two people to decide to get married, it only takes one to decide to get a divorce.”

Can you try to convince your spouse to reconcile? Of course. Can you try to convince a spouse considering a divorce to not file and give it another chance. Sure. I always encourage reconciliation. And, if you are struggling in your marriage, a good book to take a look at is, The Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to Staying Married. The author is a divorce lawyer and in it, she interviews other divorce lawyers around the country. Because we see so many marriages that end in divorce, divorce attorneys have a unique perspective on the issue.

But, as far as these websites that promise to stop your divorce case, I would just be careful. A few sessions with a qualified marriage counselor or pastor will have a much better chance of being effective than an e-book slapped together by someone trying to capitalize on your desire to avoid divorce.

The Orlando Sentinel posted an article today on Collaborative Divorce. Collaborative divorce is an alternative way to resolve a divorce case without resorting to litigation. I was actually trained as a collaborative lawyer in 2001. However, it has been slow to pick up steam in Alabama. In fact, many divorce attorneys in Alabama that I have spoken to have expressed their reluctance to hanlde cases collaboratively. I think that will change. As it becomes more common and more people find out about it, there will be a market demand for it.

The only real down side to collaborative divorce can be the expense. But, it is far less costly than a traditional adversarial divorce.

I have been working on something called the No Nonsense Divorce that I think will provide another viable option for families in Alabama trying to cope with divorce. It is a way for divorcing couples to streamline the divorce process and to resolve their case for a fixed fee that is far less than would be incurred in litigation. I’ll be posting more about No Nonsense Divorce here as soon as we have all of the parts in place.

Until then, I encourage you to read the article linked above on Collaborative Divorce. It captures some of the same themes that I urge my clients to consider in the way we handle their divorce case.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009 19:00

7 Steps to Survive Divorce

I came across this excellent article entitled, 7 Steps to Help You Get Through Divorce. It doesn’t appear that the author is an attorney, but his advice is right on the money. If you are facing a divorce in Alabama (or anywhere, for that matter), the article is worth a read.

I appreciate the fact that his first step is to hire a divorce lawyer. In his words, “a lawyer will be your best friend for how ever long you divorce is active.” I would only add, that the right divorce lawyer will be your friend for how ever long your divorce case is active.

Some of his other steps were included in my own series on Alabama Divorce Preparation.

Finally, I like the fact that he concludes with the important reminder for parents to never use the child as leverage in a divorce. I see that too often, with devastating consequences.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009 19:00

Divorce Attorneys Finding GPS Useful

The UPI ran this article entitled, Divorce Lawyers find GPS Useful. In it they describe how many divorce lawyers are increasingly using data from global positioning satellites to track vehicle movements and location in order to prove adultery. I have found this occurring more frequnelty in my Alabama divorce cases as well. The article correctly points out that one of the advantages of using a GPS instead of hiring a private investigator is the cost savings. You can hire a p.i. for several hours at a time over several different days and you may or may not time it correctly to gather evidence. On the other hand, the GPS data will be there all of the time and isn’t charging you by the hour.

The article also states that an advantage to the GPS is that an owner of the vehicle can conceal it on the car. My only word of caution about that is that the laws vary from state to state and are constantly changing. So, before you go put a GPS on your vehicle that your spouse doesn’t know about, you should run it by your divorce lawyer first.

Friday, 03 April 2009 19:00

Is Your Neighbor a Sex Offender?

I came across the Family Watchdog website today. At this site you can put in your address and it will pull up a map indicating the number of registered sex offenders residing near your home. After pulling up the map, you can access photographs of the registered sex offenders.

I was shocked to see 4 within 1 mile of my home! Check it out.

Friday, 03 April 2009 19:00

Domestic Violence Safety Plan

The American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence has published a very helpful resource which contains safety tips for victims of domestic violence. It includes practical tips for protecting your children and yourself at home, at work, and elsewhere.

The document can be downloaded for free here.

Thanks to Ben Stevens of the South Carolina Family Law Blog for the tip.

Friday, 03 April 2009 19:00

What is “Standard Visitation”?

If you live in the Mobile-Baldwin County area and are going through a divorce or are about to go through a divorce, have you ever wondered what sort of visitation the non-custodial parent will be granted? It is a question that many in this situation ask about and is one that is usually easily answered, despite the differences in the way this issue is handled in our local counties.

In theory, a domestic relations and/or Juvenile Court Judge has very wide discretion to fashion particular visitation schedules in each case depending on the facts and circumstances of that case. In reality, however, most Judges in this area have developed their own “standard visitation” schedules that they put in their orders. These can vary slightly from the basic order as well. For instance, in Mobile, a Wednesday night can be added if the parties ask for it, but the Courts will not allow much more that that, despite an agreement between the parties. However in Baldwin County, Wednesday night is part of the standard order. Also, Baldwin County Judges will allow the parties to share custody where the children spend an even amount of time with each parent (two weeks with one and two weeks with the other, for example). The following are the “highlights” of the normal visitation orders in different courts in this area.

In Mobile County it is as follows:
-Every other weekend from Friday at 6pm to Sunday at 6pm.
-One month during the Summer.
-One week at Christmas beginning at 2pm on Christmas Day.
-Thanksgiving and Springbreak holidays alternate in even and odd years.

I have never really considered “virtual visitation” or contact between parents and children over a computer video connection to be practical. However, after reading Ann Sanner’s AP article titled “‘Virtual’ Visits Pushed in Several States,” I may have to make this part of the visitation options I discuss with certain of my clients. While it obviously should not be used as a substitute for actual physical visitation, in the right circumstances it seems that this could help many parents and children maintain their relationship.

The article above describes a prime example of when virtual visitation would be appropriate and desirable. The Father lives in another country and only gets to exercise in-person visits a few times per year. Even so, his divorce agreement guarantees him contact with his 5 year old daughter by internet video connection and he usually gets to talk to her this way at least two times per week. The fact that they are able to look at one another during these talks seems to make a big difference in the quality of his contact as opposed to mere telephone conversations.

While local Judges may not be familiar with this method of contact, based on the very broad discretion Judges have in this state when it comes to visitation matters, I think it is something they have the power to order now, without the need to have a specific statute autorizing it. With the proliferation of broadband internet connections as well as the ease with which these video connections can be set up, there is no reason to only consider them in situations where the parties are separted by long distances. These contacts could just as easily take place as a part of local visitation situations.

Thursday, 24 February 2011 18:00

Skype and “Virtual Visitation” in Alabama

I was walking down the hallway of my house the other night and I heard my 14 year old daughter having a conversation with what sounded like another boy in her room. It was late and I knew no one was there but, of course, I immediately headed that way. When I opened the door to her room I saw her sitting on her bed with her new school laptop in front of her and she was talking to and laughing at her computer.

It turns out she was having a Skype video conversation with her Uncle who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. As I leaned in to view the screen I saw my brother-in-law and also saw myself in the bottom of the screen. I waved and said hello and he did the same back to me. Amazing!

I have had several opportunities to put provisions in agreement divorces or relocation case settlements that obligate one party or the other to have broadband connections to facilitate communications with the other non-custodial parent but this was my first personal experience with it in video form. It really was a great way to communicate and was much better than a simple phone call would have been.

Alabama has no statutory obligation requiring a court to consider Skype or other forms of ”virtual visitaion.” I am also not aware of a published opinion where this was required by a judge after a hearing. However, with the economy being in the condition it is, causing both custodial and non-custodial parents to consider relocating to find jobs, the technology that allows this sort of communication can help improve an otherwise bad situation. The technology has defenitely come a long way. Video conversations are certaily no substitution for spending time with your children but they absolutely can help give the feeling that your children are not so far away.

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