During a divorce or legal separation, there are many important issues that need to be resolved. One of the most potentially contentious issues is the question of which parent obtains custody of the children and determining a visitation schedule that everyone can agree to. In general, it is best for the parents to come to a peaceable and workable resolution that can be presented to the court for approval. Unfortunately, however, this is not always possible. During this process, it is important to have an experienced child custody attorney by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests, and the best interests of your children.
At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience representing clients in child custody proceedings and all other family legal matters in Alabama. We understand that custody can be an emotionally-charged issue, and we work closely with our clients to help them develop resolutions that fully protect their interests while at the same time preserving delicate family relationships.
Our lawyers have in-depth knowledge of Alabama child custody laws, and just as importantly, how the courts typically apply these laws in individual cases. We take the time to listen and thoroughly understand our clients’ needs, so we can develop the most practical, effective, and cost-efficient legal solutions. Our experience and knowledge give us unique insights that allow our clients to see all the options they have available to them, and to adopt more creative approaches to resolving these important matters.
Child Custody Laws in Alabama
The Alabama courts generally prefer that both parents are involved in the lives of their children, as long as this is in-keeping with the best interests of the child. If the parents are unable to come up with a child custody arrangement on their own, there are several factors the court may consider in making that determination. These may include:
There are three different types of custody that may pertain to a child custody proceeding:
When a divorce or parentage case is initiated, temporary custody may be awarded to one of the parties based on an initial review of the facts and circumstances of the case. Temporary custody is valid until a final determination is made at the conclusion of the proceedings. Although custody is temporary at this stage, the initial determination is important, because courts will often give a lot of weight to the current circumstances when deciding what the permanent child custody arrangement should be.
This refers to the rights of the parties to make important decisions on behalf of the child, such as decisions regarding healthcare, religious upbringing, education, and extracurricular activities the child is allowed to be involved in. Either parent may receive sole legal custody, or the parents may be awarded joint legal custody in which they must confer with each other on these major decisions. It may also be determined that one party should have decision-making authority in some areas, while the other party decides in other areas. Generally, courts prefer joint legal custody arrangements as long as this arrangement serves the child’s best interests.
This refers to which parent the child will reside with. Either parent may be awarded sole physical custody, even if the parents share joint legal custody. On the other hand, the parents may receive joint physical custody. It is more common these days for parents to have some type of shared physical custody arrangement, and this does not necessarily mean 50/50 parenting time.
It may not always be feasible to have the child spend an equal amount of days throughout the year with each parent. Sometimes, a 60/40 or 70/30 arrangement may be more appropriate. This depends largely on the schedules of each parent, the traveling distance between the two residences, and other unique circumstances with the case.
If one parent is awarded sole physical custody, the non-custodial parent will usually be given liberal visitation rights. In such cases, a visitation schedule should be developed that spells out when and for how long the non-custodial parent will have the child. One common example may be for visitation to occur every weekend, or every other weekend depending on the circumstances.
The visitation schedule should also address holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions when the non-custodial parent will have the child. In many cases, holidays and special occasions are alternated each year. For example, one parent may have the child for thanksgiving in odd years and Christmas in even years, and vice versa for the other parent.
In some limited circumstances, one parent may only be granted limited and/or supervised visitations, or no visitation at all. This is usually only done when there is reason to be concerned about the safety of the child if he/she is alone with the non-custodial parent, such as if there is a history of abuse.
Child Custody and Relocation
In Alabama, if a custodial parent is planning to move outside the state or more than 60 miles away, they must provide notice to the other parent within 45 days of the proposed move. Once notified, the other parent has 30 days to file an objection with the court. If an objection is filed, a hearing is scheduled, and a judge decides whether or not to approve the move. Several factors are considered to determine if the move is in-keeping with the child’s best interest. For this reason, it is essential to retain a skilled attorney to help you prepare for the hearing and represent you in court.
Speak with a Seasoned Alabama Child Custody Lawyer
If you are splitting up with the other parent of your child (or children), where they live and who will make crucial decisions on their behalf are major determining factors that will help shape their entire future. For experienced guidance with child custody and all other family legal issues in Alabama, contact M. Adam Jones and Associates today at 334-699-5599 to schedule a consultation. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.