When Alabama Was the Quickie-Divorce Capitol

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Mar 25, 2013 | 0 Comments

Alabama was once king of the quickie-divorce.

It seems a bit odd now, but for decades, celebrities and common folk alike flocked to the Heart of Dixie, which had a reputation as a "divorce mill" where a couple could un-couple in as little as a day.

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Between 1945 and 1970, Alabama was churning out more divorces than Nevada. Among the prominent people who sought out the service here were Estelle B. Barb and cartoonist Charles Addams, the muse and creator of the Addams Family series. There was also John Daly, host of television show, "Whose Line is it Anyway?" and Aristotle Onassis.

A reporter for AL.com recently penned the history of how Alabama came to earn that reputation, and how it was eventually lost.

Our Birmingham divorce lawyers know that while you are probably going to have to wait longer than a day to close that chapter, there are ways we can work efficiently to help you expedite the process. We understand that even if you aren't thrilled with the end of your marriage (few people are), you are probably eager to move on.

Things tend to go much more smoothly if you weren't married long, don't have any children together, have few shared assets and you are both in agreement on parting ways.

Once you start to factor in some of these other elements, things get a little more complicated and they do take time in order to ensure they are done right. That doesn't mean it needs to drag on for years and years. Meeting with a divorce lawyer while you're still just contemplating whether this is something you want to do can help you weigh all your options, figure out what paperwork you're going to need to gather and what steps you will need to take to put yourself in the best possible position for when you actually do file.

Generally, most divorces will take about six months from the time you file, assuming a minimal amount of disagreements.

Back in the mid-20th Century, however, you might even be able to secure a divorce in Alabama within a matter of hours.

However, the process was rife with fraud.

Prior to 1945, married couples in Alabama had to have lived in the state for a full year, establishing residency, before they could file for divorce. But then the law was abolished. Many took full advantage of this sudden opportunity.

Attorneys throughout the state were going before judges and perjuring themselves by claiming their clients were residents of Alabama, when in fact they had arrived by plane just a few hours prior.

In 1960, while Nevada had granted about 9,275 divorces, Alabama had granted more than 17,000. Two years later, TIME magazine published an article called "Alabamy Unbound" about this very phenomenon.

Efforts to get the residency requirement reinstated failed, but soon after that article was published, the state's Bar Commission issued a directive prohibiting lawyers from participating in "quickie divorces."

The practice was halted entirely with the indictment of more than half a dozen officials who were reportedly caught perjuring themselves in these cases.

We are dedicated to doing it right, but we also work with experience and efficiency that ensures your case is processed in a timely manner – so you can start the next phase of your life.

If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

Additional Resources:

When Alabama flourished as a divorce mill, famous people flocked here to get unhitched, March 14, 2013, By Kelly Kazek, AL.com

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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