What Does the Alabama Court Consider When Deciding What’s in the Best Interests of The Child?

If children are involved in your divorce, then child custody often is one of the most challenging and heart-wrenching decisions you must make. As parents, it’s hard on you but also very difficult for your children, who are often not mentally prepared to make this decision.

Choosing the right custody arrangement for your children can make the transition after a divorce a much easier adjustment for them and you.

The Alabama court almost always feels that joint custody is the preferred option. Joint custody allows both parents to maintain strong bonds and relationships with the children and plan a highly active role in their children’s upbringing. Alabama courts approach custody issues in divorce with the presumption that joint custody is the best solution.

Sadly, though, joint custody is not always the best way to go, and, at times, it is impossible. In many situations, children do better living with one parent in a sole custody arrangement while the other parent has visitation rights.

So, if you and your spouse (or partner) cannot agree on custody arrangements before you go to court, an Alabama judge will decide for you. In doing so, the judge uses the guidelines of the Alabama “best interests of the child” standard and will consider such things as;

  • The exact relationship between children and their parents before your divorce.
  • How deeply involved was each parent in the children’s lives before the divorce?
  • Your children’s unique needs are based on age, health, mental status, and more.
  • If there was any history of domestic violence or drug or alcohol abuse in your home.
  • How well will you and your spouse work together to raise your children?
  • If it’s possible for you and your spouse to agree on joint custody and possibly much more.

Your skilled, empathetic, and experienced Birmingham child custody lawyer will always tell you it’s best to negotiate child custody and work out a viable program before you go to court. They will help you arrange this process and attempt to put your emotions aside so the court sees that all your children’s needs are met.

It is usually never the best resolution to this issue; if the court is involved, the judge will make the final decision, which may be totally out of your hands.

What Things May the Judge Consider When Deciding Custody.

First, you must note that it’s always in your and usually your children’s best interests if you and your spouse, with the help and guidance of your custody lawyer, make a viable custody plan before you enter the courtroom.

If not, the judge will analyze your situation and plan for you; he will be using Alabama’s standards for what’s in your children’s best interests, and you may not care for any or all of the decisions made.

When a judge decides custody, they will consider all relevant and pertinent information and factors to determine what is in the children’s best interests, not yours. They will consider such things as;

  • Your wishes and those of your spouse, if feasible.
  • Want the children may want and who they wish to live with depending on their age and the interaction and interrelationship of the children with their parents and siblings.
  • How have your children adjusted to their home, school, and community?
  • You and your spouse’s character and all the circumstances involved.
  • If any domestic violence was found in the home or committed by either parent and possibly much more.

This is hardly ever the way you want your custody hearing to go, and it’s always wise to work with your skilled Birmingham custody lawyer and let them help you negotiate a solid custody plan before going before the judge.

If Alabama Favors Joint Custody, What Does That Mean For My Child?

When following Alabama’s best interests of the child mandate, the court, in many custody cases, does favor joint custody if possible.

Commonly, child custody has two parts: legal and physical custody of your children.

If you have legal custody, you have the right to make specific decisions regarding your children. For example, if you have legal custody, you can make medical, educational, and virtually any decisions that impact essential factors in your child’s life and upbringing. In joint custody, this right is granted as joint (you and your ex-spouse are both involved), and you both make these critical decisions together.

So, just as you would if you were still married, you both share in these critical decisions equally, even after your divorce is finalized; this holds whether you have joint physical custody.

However, all divorce cases are different, and many times, for valid and substantial reasons, you may not want your ex-spouse to have joint legal custody over the children, and these valid and provable concerns must be made and presented clearly to the Alabama court.

Simply put, when you have joint custody of your children, you essentially make decisions together as if you were still married and in the same home. Discussing this situation with your custody lawyer is imperative because if there are reasons to avoid joint custody, another valid alternative plan must be drafted and proposed to the court.

Using the Best Interests Of The Child Standard, is Joint Custody Always Considered?

Simply put, joint custody may be preferred, but it is not always the outcome in an Alabama divorce. However, it is mandated when appropriate and is a workable custody solution.

Remember that with joint custody, you and your ex-spouse still confer on all major life decisions of your children; however, this is not always possible.

Let’s say that one parent has a history of drug use or domestic violence or simply doesn’t have any interest in their child’s well-being or life. In that case, you and your empathetic custody law team will draft a plan suited to the situation. Always note that if you and your lawyer don’t plan, the Alabama judge will.

If co-parenting is working, however, then problems rarely arise. However, joint legal custody has challenges, as even the most basic decisions may become stressful, massive conflicts. So, although awarding joint legal custody may be a go-to decision for the Alabama courts, it can also have its pitfalls.

This is why all aspects, no matter how minor, should be discussed thoroughly with your skilled and thorough custody law team. Custody decisions can be legally tricky but also affect you and your child’s future, and it’s best not to leave that up to the courts.

My Divorce May Have Custody Issues; How Should I Proceed?

In any divorce, child custody issues are almost always contentious, and there are critical decisions to make that usually cause a great deal of stress and conflict. This is why, when the court steps into the mix and uses the “best interests of the child” standard, the outcome is often not what either parent wanted.

Custody is always a “hot button” issue, and you need the help of a well-known, highly skilled child custody law firm with considerable expertise in these proceedings.

The child custody lawyers at the Rose Law Firm LLC are that firm and will always help to guide you to do what’s best for you and your children, thus avoiding the most conflict possible.

Call them today at (205) 858-9224 for a free consultation, and know you have an award-winning law team on your side.