What Are the Types of Custody in Alabama?
The State of Alabama always favors joint custody and always attempts to assure that your children have frequent and continuing contact with you and your ex-spouse. However, joint custody doesn’t mean “equal” custody, and one parent may care for the children more often.
The court will always act in a way that is in the best interest of your children and strongly encourages parents to share in all aspects of their child’s upbringing. Alabama also attempts to be very clear on this stance and enacted Bill SB211 to ensure that clarity.
However, all divorces and their circumstances differ. Also, when joint custody does not include “equal” time, custody battles may surface, making the entire situation significantly worse.
The court has the power to award either parents “sole legal custody” or “joint physical custody” if, due to the circumstances, they feel it’s in the best interests of your children.
But, make no mistake, when your divorce is finalized, both physical (residential) and legal custody must be, and will be, determined.
The two significant types of custody awarded are:
- “Sole legal custody” – In this type, all the vital decisions made pertaining to your child’s life, such as health, education, welfare, religion, and more, will be made by one parent, and your children will usually only live with that parent. The parent awarded sole legal custody is called the “primary custodian” of the children, while the other is considered the “non-custodial” or “secondary custodial”parent.
- “Joint physical custody” – This is usually called shared parenting. Here, parents share equal legal custody regarding decision-making but not necessarily equal physical control of where the children reside most of the time.
When your parenting rights are contested, your divorce proceedings can take a negative turn, and this is when the experience, negotiating skills, and aggressive attitude of your Birmingham contested divorce lawyer will be invaluable.
What May the Court Consider When Deciding Custody Battles?
Under most circumstances, joint custody (of some type) is always presumed to be in the best interests of your children. Therefore, the Alabama courts will always consider joint custody in all cases.
If you and your spouse decide that joint custody should be ordered, it commonly will be done unless the court finds explicit reasons that it not be done.
For example, the court may not give custody to a parent who has inflicted violence on their spouse or child. Abuse cases are approached differently, and the judge is usually required to consider any history of domestic violence.
Always be aware that no matter how strongly you believe you are a better parent, the court may decide otherwise. In this case, you must be ready to accept the court’s decision and move forward to raising your children together in the best way for them.
Some factors that the courts consider:
- The overall safety and well-being of your child.
- The Age and gender of your children.
- Facts and characteristics of each parent, including age, character, stability, and mental and physical health.
- The personal relationship between each child and each parent.
- Advice and recommendations of any witnesses, relatives, etc.
- Any pertinent facts the evidence may disclose and other reasonable available alternatives.
The court has great latitude in these matters, and a formal “parenting plan,” drafted ahead of time, will go far to convince the judge that you and your spouse can and will cooperate in all aspects of raising your children. By drafting such a plan, you may avoid the dire, costly, and emotionally draining experience of fighting a court battle to protect your parental rights and custody of your children.
What Is a “Parenting Plan” and How Can It Uphold My Parental Rights?
By discussing a thought-out “parenting plan” with your empathetic and skilled divorce lawyer, you may be able to avoid the stress and contention of future arguments with the Alabama court and your spouse and their lawyer.
A professionally drafted “parenting Plan” should be prepared to comply with court regulations and contain pertinent facts regarding custody and decisions both parents will make when raising their children. It may include a generally agreed upon “time-sharing” schedule that specifies when your children will share their time with parents.
This plan can significantly help when settling your child’s custody issues and other significant matters affecting your parental rights.
Your knowledgeable, invested Birmingham divorce lawyer can offer your proposed plan to the opposing side and, at the very least, have a viable legal starting point from which to reach an agreement.
Working with your lawyer on a viable plan will help your case and provide essential information to help the judge decide these critical issues.
Always note that a “parenting agreement” (parenting plan) can be drafted to cover any topics important to raising your children. However, your focus should always be on your child’s best interests.
If I Must “Contest” the custody proposal, How Do I Proceed?
In any divorce, your parental rights, primarily regarding child custody, are vital to your and your children’s future.
However, in some instances, you and your spouse simply cannot agree on a viable custody and visitation rights plan.
At this point, trial becomes necessary so the Alabama judge can review all pertinent facts of your case and make a final determination.
Any time you litigate a divorce, it is costly and time-consuming but may be unavoidable, and your child’s future may be at stake.
Every parent feels strongly about their parental rights, and litigating for custody (or any critical issue) in your divorce should always be a last resort; however, at times, it’s mandatory. Listening to your lawyer’s advice and their professional, reliable, empathetic guidance during this proceeding is compulsory. Your lawyer will always fight for your parental rights and has the tools, skills, and knowledge to do so effectively.
I May Have to Contest Custody and Other Issues In My Divorce; How Should I Proceed?
First, never attempt to manage any custody battle alone; your child’s future is far too important. Obtain a proven, experienced, and involved Birmingham contested divorce lawyer who wants your unique story and fights tirelessly to protect your parental rights.
The Birmingham-based Rose Law Firm are seasoned professionals in these legally tricky cases and will always protect your and your children’s lives moving forward.
Call them today at (205) 858-9224 and obtain a free case evaluation so you’ll be appraised of all your options and strategies under Alabama law. They are among the few specialists on contested divorces in the state and have the knowledge and winning history you and your children need at this critical time.