A brief guide to child custody laws in Alabama
As part of the Alabama divorce process, two separating spouses with minor children may be able to come to terms over issues such as:
• How much time the child will spend with each parent
• Visitation rights for the non-custodial parent
• Transportation between two parents' houses
It is desirable to create a separation agreement before your divorce hearing clarifying these questions in accordance with child custody law in Alabama. If this is not possible, a judge will issue a ruling to resolve these questions. The guiding principle behind child custody laws in Alabama is to place the best interests of children above all else.
There are five different kinds of custody you may be applying for. Child custody law in Alabama can grant the following five types of arrangements:
• Joint custody gives both parents equal decision-making authority and custody time.
• Joint physical custody is an arrangement designed to give both parents a substantial amount of time with their child. Under child custody law in Alabama, this does not mean both parents will spend an exactly equal amount of time with a child.
• Joint legal custody gives both parents the right to make decisions about their children. However, child custody laws in Alabama state that this does not mean both parents will spend an equal amount of time with a child.
• Sole physical custody means only one parent has full-time custody of a child. Under child custody law in Alabama, the other parent may or may not have visitation rights.
• Sole legal custody grants one parent sole authority in making all decisions on behalf of a child.
Spouses who need to appear in court for contested divorce proceedings should prepare a proposed agreement for a judge to review. While a judge has unlimited scope in deciding what factors are relevant, some aspects of child custody law in Alabama they are likely to take into account include:
• The fitness of both parents. Note that according to the child custody laws in Alabama, if a mother has abandoned the family, the father is preferred to have possession of children seven or older.
• If more than one child is involved, it is preferable to keep them together. Child custody law in Alabama directs judges to try to keep siblings together unless there are compelling reasons otherwise.
• Sometimes both parents may be equally qualified to take care of their children. However, if one is already parenting half-siblings, child custody laws in Alabama favor that parent.
It is desirable to create a separation agreement before filing for divorce. Failure to do so risks having a judge issue a ruling based on their evaluation of child custody laws in Alabama. Their resulting verdict may not be pleasing to either spouse. If you must pursue a contested divorce, see if you can find free or affordable representation from a lawyer who understands child custody law in Alabama. Crafting a realistic agreement can help you achieve your goals in court.