Some Facts About Alabama’s Child Custody Laws If You Are Unmarried.

If you are unmarried in Alabama and have a child, there are still some very personal issues that must be legally dealt with, such as custody, visitation, and financial support of your child.

You must note that many Alabama child custody laws apply to unmarried couples as much as they do to married couples who are divorcing. The questions and the decision-making process are almost the same: how does Alabama award custody to unmarried parents, and what guidelines may the courts use?

As in most states, the Alabama court awards custody to unmarried parents; the same legal standards commonly apply, and the court is always mandated to consider what is in the “best interest of your child.”

Unless circumstances don’t allow it, the court emphasizes allowing both parents to share their child’s decision-making and other responsibilities. The court also attempts to maintain a nurturing and stable relationship, no matter your marital status. That said, this usually means that awarding joint custody to the co-parents is always the most likely way to go.
It may not mean that each parent gets equal (or 50/50) physical custody of the child. School, work schedules, and other circumstances often mean that one co-parent may be the primary caretaker and will be awarded a more significant percentage of physical custody.

However, always remember that each case involving custody differs. Therefore, before you go to court, you must always obtain a skilled Birmingham child custody lawyer’s professional, empathetic, and knowledgeable guidance. This advice will allow you to know all your rights as a co-parent under Alabama law and that your and your child’s rights are upheld.

What Are the Types of Custody I Could Have As an Unmarried Parent?

There are many ways you, as a co-parent, may choose to share custody of your child. Of course, necessity (due to job hours, etc.) may often dictate these custody terms, and each situation is unique.

Some co-parents live near each other and maintain a very amicable relationship, so your child may spend almost equal time with both of you; this is, however, not always the case.

Therefore, the Alabama courts have various types of child custody to handle all situations. Some examples are;

  • Legal custody of your child – This allows you to have legal decision-making power concerning all aspects of your child’s life, such as where they go to school, their religion, medical care, and more.
  • Physical custody of your child – This decides which of you will be fully or more involved in taking care of your child on a day-to-day basis and where they will live.
  • Sole custody – Only one of you will be your child’s physical or legal custodian.
  • Joint Legal Custody – Involves both of you having legal, physical, or both. Also, you would share where your child lives and all the critical decision-making in your child’s life.

The Alabama courts put a significant value on your child maintaining relationships with both co-parents, and unless there is a sound reason, neither co-parent usually has visitation rights taken away.

However, child custody is usually a contentious negotiation, and if you and your partner cannot come to a compromise, then the Alabama court will decide for you. Therefore, it is always prudent to have a skilled, experienced child custody lawyer who will work tirelessly to ensure the outcome is in your favor.

What May the Alabama Courts Consider When Deciding Custody Cases?

First, what’s critical to note is that in Alabama, child custody may be not only to married couples but unmarried co-parents as well. Custody can be granted to unmarried parents jointly or solely to one co-parent.

Additionally, almost all of Alabama’s custody laws feel that if joint custody is a viable option, this is always in the children’s best interests; therefore, the judge will consider joint custody in almost every case unless circumstances prohibit it.

However, there are rarer cases where specific circumstances may dictate that only one parent should be allowed custody of your child. This decision is based on several factors, some of which include;

  • If the child is a boy or a girl, and the child’s age.
  • The overall safety and well-being of your child.
  • Your child’s overall emotional, moral, material, and educational needs and each co-parent’s ability to adequately meet these needs.
  • Certain aspects and character of the co-parents, including their age, financial stability, and mental and physical health.
  • The closeness of the relationship between each co-parent and your child and the level of agreement and cooperation between you both.
  • If your child is older and mature enough, they may be asked their preference during custody.

Always note that every child custody case has varying aspects, and these are only some of the items the court may consider when deciding on a final custody arrangement for your family. Your best action is thoroughly discussing your situation with your empathetic, experienced, and thorough child custody lawyer. If you and your co-partner can agree on a viable and rational course of action before going to court, it’s always in your and your co-partner’s best interest to do so.

As An Unmarried Parent, What Shouldn’t I Do When Seeking Custody?

As an unmarried parent seeking custody of your child, you, in most cases, have the same rights as a married couple; your child custody lawyer knows this and will fight for these rights on your behalf.

However, there are common mistakes you must avoid if you want your custody arrangement to suit your needs and wishes. Some of these are;

  • Not seeking professional legal advice – Before taking any steps to child custody, always seek the counsel of an experienced Birmingham child custody lawyer.
  • Never assume that either parent can’t get custody – Historically, laws have usually favored the mother; however, this is no longer the case. The Alabama laws generally consider what’s in your child’s best interests.
  • Your failure to think about your child’s best interest – Every decision you make at this critical point affects your child, and it’s vitally important that any decisions you make are in your child’s best interest.
  • This decision will affect your and your child’s future in many significant ways, and the most important thing to do is to obtain the best professional legal advice available.

I Am an Unmarried Parent Seeking Custody; How Should I Proceed?

In Alabama and most states, the child custody laws are legally complex. Therefore, If you and your unmarried partner are parting ways and have a child, consulting and working with an experienced child custody lawyer is essential.

The Birmingham-based Rose Law Firm, LLC specializes in all child custody cases. It is well known throughout the area as empathetic, legally knowledgeable, and thoroughly attentive to their clients and children’s needs. Call them today at (205) 858-9224 for a free consultation and get the passionate and communicative legal guidance needed at this critical point in your life.