Birmingham, AL Child Custody Modifications
Family law matters can be complex from a personal and a legal standpoint. That’s why you want to ensure you have the tools and knowledge to fight for the best outcome for you and your family.
Our law firm can help you with a Birmingham divorce, child custody modifications, or any other family law matters. At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, we can provide the guidance and support you need at this critical moment. Contact us to learn more about how our Birmingham divorce lawyers can help you navigate every step of the legal process.
The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates: Here for You During Divorce and Child Custody Matters
When you get married, you typically do so with the expectation that you will spend the rest of your life with that person. However, realizing that you need to make a change and that divorce offers the best or only way to deal with an unhappy situation can feel devastating.
It can prove equally challenging to realize that your current child custody agreement no longer works in your children’s best interest. You have already worked hard to do the right thing for your child, and the thought of going through more hurdles to secure a better arrangement can seem daunting.
At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, we understand the many challenges involved in family law matters.
Our firm can help you in all manner of family law cases, including:
- Child custody
- Modifications to child custody arrangements
- Disputes over alimony
The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates can help you navigate your family law concerns, no matter how long or short the process lasts. We can assist you with every aspect of your divorce, child custody modifications, and more by:
Building Your Case
Whatever you hope to achieve—whether retaining key assets or assuming sole custody of a child—you will need to collect enough evidence to show that you have the right to seek those assets or privileges.
You will also need to establish the identity of everyone involved in the case, including names, addresses, and birthdates. We can help you identify what evidence may prove most beneficial to your case.
Family law matters follow strict deadlines regarding when you can:
- File for divorce
- File for custody of a child
- Respond to someone else’s divorce petition
- Seek a protection order
- Submit evidence to the court
Missing any deadline or responding incorrectly could endanger your case.
In the turmoil of a divorce or custody proceeding, you can easily forget a pending deadline. The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates can take care of all paperwork for you, ensuring you would not have to worry about your case getting thrown out or jeopardized over such details.
Some people handle their cases in a lawyer’s office or at the negotiating table. Others end up in court, where both sides must present arguments before a judge, who ultimately holds responsibility for deciding on a fair outcome.
Our team knows how the court system works, so you would not have to represent yourself or risk facing courtroom regulations. We also know how to negotiate with others clearly and convincingly.
No matter which way your case goes, we can prepare to handle it by:
- Meeting with the other side to try to strike a deal
- Presenting and explaining evidence to the judge
- Arguing your case on your behalf
- Interceding if the other side tries to violate your rights
Informing You of Your Rights
Divorcing spouses and parents have certain rights during legal proceedings—but they can only retain those rights if they know about them and how to exercise them.
To start you on the right foot, The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates can provide you with a no-obligation consultation concerning your case. A team member can give you an idea of what someone in your situation can do to achieve the divorce and child custody agreement they need.
What Is a Divorce and Child Custody Modification?
A divorce modification is when one or both parties request to modify a portion of their divorce agreement. The courts can agree to change the order or deny it if it believes the change in circumstances warrants the modification.
Child custody modification occurs when parties request to modify the child custody agreement. For example, the parents may need to adjust the visitation schedule as the child grows, starts school, and joins extracurricular activities.
What Qualifies as a Significant Change in Divorce or Custody Circumstances?
When seeking a divorce and child custody modification, most courts require the person to demonstrate a significant change in circumstances since the courts issued the original divorce decree.
A substantial change in circumstances could include:
- A significant change in either person’s income. An example may be if the noncustodial parent can no longer make child support payments or if the custodial parent cannot support the child on their own.
- Either parent has a change of circumstances. If one parent cannot care for the child because they are incarcerated or have a chronic illness, this would qualify as a significant change.
- If either parent relocated, they might need to modify the child custody arrangement.
Modifying a Child Custody Agreement
To convince a judge to modify a custody agreement, you must show that you’ve met the McClendon Standards. The courts designed the McClendon Standards to ensure the modification offsets the inherently disruptive effect caused by uprooting the child.
The standards include:
- There has been a significant change in circumstances since the original divorce agreement.
- The proposed terms are in the best interest of the child or children.
- The benefits of the proposed terms are significant.
Our attorneys can help you prove you have satisfied the McClendon Standards in your case.
Reasons to Modify a Divorce or Child Custody Agreement
There are many reasons someone may need to modify their divorce or child custody agreement. If both parties think they should change it, the modification is easier to pursue.
In addition to those significant changes listed above, reasons to seek a divorce modification could include:
- Both parties agree the original arrangement needs modifications.
- One party has significant financial changes or gets remarried, affecting alimony payments.
In Alabama, parents can modify child custody if the courts agree it is in the child’s best interest.
Other reasons a child custody agreement may need to be changed include:
- One parent could have significant financial changes affecting child support payments.
- There are unexpected financial changes regarding the child’s care. For example, the child requires frequent medical attention because of a health condition or disease they develop.
- One parent is not taking proper care of the child.
Regardless of why you need to modify your agreement, our Birmingham divorce and child custody modifications attorneys can discuss your circumstances and guide you through the modification process.
Mistakes People Make During the Original Divorce
Sometimes, people need to modify a divorce or child custody agreement because they made mistakes during the original proceedings.
Common errors could include:
- Acting out of anger or sadness: While it is common and okay to feel angry and sad during divorce proceedings, you must not make decisions based on these feelings. These types of decisions could have negative consequences in the future. Speaking with a family member or therapist could help manage your emotions during divorce.
- Not retaining an attorney: Divorces can be complicated, especially if they involve children. When dividing finances and custody of children, having legal counsel represent you can help you avoid mistakes. Top-rated Birmingham divorce lawyers can fight for you to get what you deserve and review paperwork to ensure accuracy.
- Refusing to communicate with your spouse: When negotiating an agreement, continuing to communicate openly with your spouse during divorce proceedings helps. If you refuse to communicate with your spouse, you could be facing a long and expensive court battle.
- Making side agreements with your spouse: The divorce decree should include all agreements made with your spouse. To enforce agreements, they must be in writing. You and your spouse may be getting along now, but if you are not, there is no way to enforce these agreements further down the road.
It will help if you remember that this is your divorce. Your friends, spouse, and family may influence you to make certain decisions. However, make all of your decisions in the best interests of you and your children, not anyone else.
Alabama Divorce Laws
Alabama sets legal requirements for divorces. Requirements include having grounds for divorce, residency requirements, a waiting period, and restrictions on remarriage.
Grounds for Divorce
You must state the grounds for why you are filing for divorce.
Grounds for divorce could include:
- If either party was incapacitated from entering into the marriage
- If one party voluntarily abandoned the other for one year
- If one party is imprisoned for two years with their sentence being seven years or longer
- If one party committed a crime against nature (before or during the marriage)
- If one party becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol during the marriage
- If the parties prove they are incompatible and can no longer live together
- There is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, and attempts at reconciliation are impractical
- If someone committed violence against the other person to put the other’s life or health in danger
Residency Requirements for Filing for Divorce
According to AL Code § 30-2-5, one party in the divorce must be a resident of Alabama for at least six months before filing. The person filing must prove residency in the complaint.
Waiting Period in Divorce
There is a 30-day waiting period from the date of filing the summons and complaint before the judge will enter a final judgment of divorce. The court can still issue temporary orders during the waiting period if necessary.
Temporary orders could include:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Exclusive occupancy of the marital residence
Alabama enforces a waiting period for divorces because of:
- Reconciliation: After filing for divorce, the waiting period gives spouses time to think about the finality of the divorce and if they want to continue with proceedings.
- Preparation: Divorce proceedings take time to prepare. Our attorneys can begin investigating your finances and preparing your case during the waiting period.
After the judge has entered the divorce judgment, both parties cannot remarry for 60 days unless it is to each other.
Can I Modify a Divorce in Birmingham, Alabama?
Either party can modify a divorce and child custody agreement in Birmingham, Alabama. A Birmingham divorce and child custody modifications lawyer at The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates can help you through the modification process. We have handled many modifications and understand the steps you need to take to petition to modify.
Understanding the Different Types of Divorce in Birmingham, AL
The ultimate goal of any divorce is to end a marriage while ensuring each party receives a fair share of assets (and debts). If you have children, the divorce should also ensure they receive proper care through a child custody plan.
Alabama law allows married couples in Alabama to seek a divorce on various grounds, including:
- Drug abuse
- Domestic abuse
- Incarceration in a prison or mental institution for an extended time
- An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
Your situation may dictate what kind of divorce you pursue and the outcome. For example, your circumstances may necessitate the filing of:
An Uncontested Divorce
This often proves the simplest type of divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree to the divorce and its terms, including division of assets and child custody matters.
An uncontested divorce has both pros and cons. While you could finish the process faster, you may later realize you disagree with your partner on some issues to which you already agreed. Our firm can explain the implications of an uncontested divorce in greater detail.
A Contested Divorce
If a significant disagreement arises between you and your spouse about how to divide assets or handle child custody, you will have a contested divorce.
You may have to:
- Take your case to court
- Try to persuade a judge to grant you what you feel you deserve
- Disprove any allegations your spouse makes against you
Our divorce lawyers can prove especially helpful during a contested divorce. We can build the strongest possible case to support the outcome you may need and deserve. We can represent your voice and best interests through every step of the legal process.
A High-Asset Divorce
If you and your spouse have assets valued above $1 million, you will have a high-asset divorce.
Such cases can get very complex due to the many types and large amounts of assets involved, such as:
- Bank accounts
- Real estate
- Stocks and other investments
- Luxury items such as automobiles or other vehicles
Our team knows how to deal with all of these items for you, and we want to ensure that you retain all the assets you worked so hard to build.
A Military Divorce
If you or your spouse serves in the military at the time of the divorce, you may have additional factors to consider, such as:
- What happens with military benefits
- How to handle custody arrangements if the active-duty spouse gets deployed overseas
- What happens when the active-duty spouse retires from the military
The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates can provide you with a divorce attorney who understands the intricacies of military divorce.
Types of Child Custody in Alabama
Depending on your living situation, your relationship with your former partner, and other factors, you may have several options to consider as you make arrangements for your child’s care.
Most people first think of this when they hear the term child custody. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with. If parents do not have joint physical custody, the primary custodial parent makes most of the day-to-day decisions regarding the child’s welfare.
While the courts in Alabama prefer joint custody arrangements, they will only award it if this option serves the child’s best interests.
To obtain physical custody, you must demonstrate that you can care for and support the child with:
- A stable residence to shelter them
- A salary sufficient to afford necessities
The judge may consider if any mental or physical health conditions could make childcare too difficult for a parent. They may also hear evidence if a parent has a history of abuse or domestic violence.
One of our child custody lawyers can establish that you deserve physical custody. If you seek sole custody, we can also work to build evidence showing the child would do better living with you.
Legal custody refers to which parent makes important legal decisions about the child’s life.
For instance, even if you have sole physical custody of your child, your former partner could still want to have a say in what medical treatments the child receives, where the child goes to school, and so forth. Alternately, you may feel your former partner does not offer sufficient caretaking capabilities and should not make such decisions.
Our team can help you determine the best solution for you and your child. We know you want the best outcome for your child and can do everything possible to ensure their wellbeing and protection.
If you do not believe your former partner can care for a child—for example, if they have a substance abuse problem—you can seek sole custody. This would mean you maintain exclusive responsibility for housing the child and ensuring their physical and emotional wellbeing.
Seeking sole custody does not necessarily mean the other parent would have no right to see the child. For instance, they could still retain visitation rights. Again, we can work with you and the other side to make a satisfactory arrangement.
As mentioned, the state of Alabama generally prefers that the child maintains a relationship with both parents after a divorce. Joint custody would require the child to spend roughly equal amounts of time with each parent.
Your partner may share joint custody with you if:
- Your former partner can adequately care for the child.
- You and your former partner live close enough for a joint custody arrangement to work.
When joint custody does not serve the child’s best interests, you could have other options to help encourage a healthy relationship between your child and their other parent.
What if I Need to Modify a Divorce or Custody Agreement?
Even after a life-changing event like a divorce, life goes on. You or your spouse may remarry, move away, lose or get a job, and so forth. Such changes could have significant implications for child custody arrangements, alimony payments, and more.
The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates can support you if you ever need to modify your divorce or child custody agreement.
We can help our Birmingham clients by:
- Determining whether the change in question necessitates a modification to the agreement
- Working with you to decide the kind of modification required and how to go about making it
- Contacting your former spouse and their legal representative to let them know that you want this modification
- Working with the other side to make the required modifications in a timely fashion while causing a minimum of disruption to your and your child’s life
Divorce can continue to impact your life, even months or years after you reach the initial settlement. Our firm wants to support you through each development in your case.
How Do I Protect My Child During Legal Proceedings?
Parents face enough challenges when they go through a divorce or custody battle. As you already know, your child may also feel those challenges. While you have the option of hiring legal help and being proactive about the situation, your child does not, and they could face feelings of confusion and powerlessness.
To help your child through this difficult period, you can consider:
- Sitting down with them to discuss the divorce and the life changes involved
- Giving your child the chance to ask as many questions as they need to
- Buying children’s books or watching children’s movies that address situations similar to what your family faces
- Simply spending time with your child to reassure them of your continued love and care
The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates can also help you protect your child by taking the legal burden of divorce off your shoulders. With our team handling all of the tough legal tasks associated with your case, you would have more time and mental energy for one of the most important tasks: protecting your child.
Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce and Child Custody Modifications
If you want to modify your divorce and child custody agreement, you may wonder:
At What Age Can a Child Refuse Visitation?
There is no specific age. The judge would determine if the child has the maturity to have a reasonable preference, though.
Is Alabama a Mother’s State
No. The judge will decide which parent gets custody of the child based on his best interests.
The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates Can Guide You Through the Modification Process
The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates will handle your divorce and child custody case while you take care of yourself and your family.
We Can Prepare Your Divorce or Child Custody Case
Our attorneys can prepare the petition to modify your original divorce and child custody agreement. In addition, we can help you prove to the courts why your original agreement needs modifications.
To prepare a case, your lawyer may:
- File a petition to modify with the court
- Prepare for a hearing
- Present evidence that there has been a significant change in circumstances and you need to change the original order
- Show how the proposed changes are in the child’s best interests
Because we have handled many divorce and child custody modifications, our attorneys are familiar with legal barriers that may arise. The courts always do what is in the child’s best interest, so we can develop a case to prove a custody modification reflects that.
Benefits of Hiring a Birmingham Lawyer at The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates understand how emotionally draining divorce modification proceedings can be. We work hard to exceed our clients’ expectations. We hope our clients can move on with their lives after divorce and feel whole again.
Once you choose our firm, we can:
- Advocate for your child’s best interests
- Negotiate child custody agreements
- File enforcement petitions if the other party is not following the child custody or support order
- Renegotiate custody arrangements if needed
We offer no-obligation consultations to potential clients. We can discuss your circumstances during the consultation and determine how to move forward with a modification. This consultation aims to help you understand your legal options and how our firm can help you with a divorce and child custody modification.
Work With Our Birmingham Divorce and Child Custody Modifications Lawyer
At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, we work tirelessly to help our clients reach a fair divorce and child custody agreement. We have handled many modifications and can assist you with modifying your original child custody arrangement or divorce decree. Our attorneys work hard to present your case in the best way possible to protect you from an unfair legal result.
Contact our firm today at (205) 855-4860 for a no-obligation consultation. A member from our firm can learn your story and help you develop a petition to modify your original divorce or child custody agreement.
The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates Birmingham Office Location:120 19th St N Suite 237,
Birmingham, AL 35203