Law Office of Michael Tonder, P.C.

65 Pineville Road, Suite 2
Monroeville, AL 36460

P.O. Box 337
Excel, AL 36439‎


Monthly Archives: June 2021

No fault divorce

No one goes into a marriage thinking about how it will end.

We take vows that only death will end the marriage. Unfortunately, many marriages end in divorce.

Sometimes a spouse in unfaithful.

Sometimes finances destroy the marriage.

Sometimes a couple just want to go different directions in life.

It happens.


Years ago, it was difficult to get a divorce. A divorce was allowed for only a handful of reasons and you had to allege and prove them.

Times have changed and the law recognizes there are times when two people can just not get along and that it is in everyone’s best interest that they separate. Couples seeking to get a divorce can seek a “no fault” divorce.

Basically, the parties agree that they need to divorce and don’t want to fight about it.

Is it easy to get a no fault divorce?

The main issue in getting a no fault divorce is to make sure all the paperwork is done correctly, it clearly states the parties’ intentions, and that it is filed in the correct court. If children are involved and custody and child support needs to be determined, there are extra forms and language that need to be used.

Once submitted, the judge will review the paperwork to make sure everything is proper. If everything is done correctly, the judge will eventually grant the divorce.

If the couple cannot agree on how to separate assets or child custody, the judge will not grant the divorce and the parties will have to go before the judge to argue, which can make the case become, expensive and take much longer. It also takes even more of a mental toll on the parties.

If you live in Monroeville, Evergreen, Atmore, Thomasville, or Jackson and are at the point to where you and your spouse are discussing divorcing, please call us to discuss your options.

No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.

Severe impairments in Social Security cases

If you’ve applied for Social Security Disability, you are probably well aware of the ups, downs, ins, and outs of the system by now.

It’s complicated.

One of the first issues many claimants run in to is proving they have a severe impairment. In my experience, rural claimants run into this issue frequently due to lack of available health care.  A low income claimant in a rural setting can have difficulty getting back and forth to a clinic, and sometimes the clinic is 30-45 miles away.

The problem is that the claimant has to prove they are disabled. To do so, they first must show they have a medically determinable impairment that is considered severe by Social Security. A person must prove they suffer from a severe impairment before Social Security will go any further when determining whether the claimant is disabled.

But before an impairment can be considered severe, it has to first be found a medically determinable impairment. Social Security defines a medically determinable impairment as “an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities that can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.”

In plain English, that means that you have to present medical evidence of a physical or mental impairment. Complaints of a problem without medical evidence will not help the case. Once you present evidence of a medically determinable impairment, Social Security will then consider whether it meets the criteria of a severe impairment. Social Security considers an impairment severe if it causes more than a slight impact on your ability to do basic work activities. At this point, Social Security will consider your complaints of pain and other issues caused by your impairment.

Please give me a call if you are in Monroeville, Evergreen, Atmore, Camden, Thomasville or anywhere in southwest Alabama and need help with your disability claim.

No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.

The deck is stacked

And it’s not in your favor.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 40 years, you know that if you are injured in an automobile accident that was not your fault, you probably are entitled to damages for any injuries you suffer. The attorneys on T.V. tell us this 100 times per day.

But as with most things in the law, it’s never quite as easy as it seems.

Many times fault is easy to determine. Maybe you clearly had the right of way. Sometimes it gets a little fuzzy.

Both drivers were texting when the accident happened.

Hmmm. That changes things.

Most states use a comparative negligence standard that apportions damages based on the percentage of fault. But not Alabama.

Alabama is one of a handful of states that still adheres to the old common law contributory negligence rule.

What is contributory negligence?

Contributory negligence can bar an injured party from recovering anything if they are found to have contributed to the accident or injury. Just to show the absurd results of the contributory negligence rule, in a comparative negligence state, if the plaintiff is 30% negligent and the defendant is 70% negligent in causing damages, the plaintiff could recover up to 70% of the damages.

Seems pretty fair.

In our great state, if the plaintiff is 1% negligent and the defendant is 99% negligent, the contributory negligence rule can prevent the plaintiff from recovering ANYTHING. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.

Makes around as much sense as a screen door on a submarine, doesn’t it?

If you live in Monroeville, Evergreen or Atmore and are injured, please contact me.

No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.

5 steps to prove disability

How the Social Security Administration determines whether someone is disabled.

To be disabled, you have to be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments that can be expected to result in death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months.

Sounds simple enough, right?

It’s so simple that Social Security uses a five step process to determine whether someone is disabled as defined by their regulations.

The first step requires that you are not performing substantial gainful activity. You can work and be found disabled, but if the amount of money you receive per month is over a listed amount OR the type of work you are doing is totally inconsistent with why you are claiming disability, you will be denied.

The second step is to determine whether you have a severe medical impairment. This is a pretty easy bar to clear because you basically have to show that you have a physical or mental impairment that impacts your ability to perform essential work functions.  A medical professional has to make the diagnosis of the condition.

“My back hurts” is not enough to show a severe impairment.

An x-ray showing degenerative disc disease is.

If you cannot show a severe impairment, your case will be denied.

The third step involves the Listed impairments that Social Security states will automatically prove disability. The Listed impairment are broken down by body systems and require very detailed records. The vast majority of cases do not have the documentation to show a Listed impairment, so the case moves on to the next step.

The fourth step requires Social Security to determine your residual functional capacity, which is what you can do physically and mentally. Social Security then determines whether your past relevant work is precluded by your residual functional capacity.

Let’s say Social Security finds you can only lift up to ten pounds but your past relevant work required you to lift 50 pound. Your past relevant work would be excluded. If your past relevant work only required you to lift five pounds, then it would not be excluded and your case will be denied.

If your past relevant work is excluded, you go to the fifth step, which considers whether your residual functional capacity precludes your ability to work in a job that exists in significant numbers in the national economy.

This is where most Social Security cases are won or lost. Social Security relies on vocational experts to determine what jobs are out there.

If there are a significant number of jobs you can do, your case is denied.

If not, your case is approved.

Easy as pie, right?