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Benefits of Primary Physical Custody in Alabama

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Child Custody
Post Author Image This article was reviewed and approved for publication by Attorney Charlotte Christian.
benefits of primary physical custody Alabama

Custody battles are among the most contentious issues that must be decided during separation and divorce proceedings. Most often, each parent cares deeply about the children, but there are profound disagreements over who should raise the children and how. Unfortunately, sometimes unscrupulous parents use the children as just another bargaining chip. 

There are several ways that courts divide the authority over and responsibility for children during a separation. Alabama law defines these divisions of responsibility and authority to include joint legal custody, joint physical custody, sole legal custody, and sole physical custody. 

Alabama courts typically grant parents joint legal custody, with one parent retaining sole physical custody. However, “sole physical custody” is a bit of a misnomer because both parents still get to spend time with the children in a sole physical custody arrangement. For that reason, sole physical custody is often referred to as primary physical custody. 

Our Huntsville, Alabama child custody attorneys will explain what you should know. For immediate assistance, please don’t hesitate to call (256) 859-7277 or fill out our short online form today.

What Is Primary Physical Custody in Alabama?

In Alabama, primary physical custody means that children will spend most of their time living with one parent. The courts call this parent the primary custodial parent. The other parent, the non-custodial parent, gets visitation rights unless the court orders otherwise. The non-custodial parent has a right to care for the children based on a schedule that usually includes some combination of nights and weekends.

While sharing time equally may be important to some parents and may be best for some families, this type of arrangement does not suit everyone. And in fact, there are many ways in which a primary physical custody arrangement can be beneficial to both parents and children.

Five Benefits of Primary Physical Custody in Alabama

Though Alabama law does not define any explicit primary custodial rights, some significant benefits are associated with primary physical custody.

Your Children Get a More Consistent Day-to-Day Life

One of the most important benefits of primary physical custody is ensuring a consistent day-to-day life for your children. Consistency is an essential factor in early childhood development.

An equal allocation of a child’s time between parents may seem like the best result at first glance. However, this arrangement can lead to a chaotic and inconsistent schedule for the child, especially when parents have different parenting styles. Children can struggle to adjust when bedtimes, TV rules, homework routines, and more are drastically different from week to week.

When one parent has primary physical custody, the child’s schedule will likely be more consistent and predictable.

You Can Emphasize Quality Over Quantity

Sometimes, one parent has a more hectic schedule than the other. Maybe they work long or odd hours. If one parent will frequently have to rely on the other parent or third parties for child care during their time, joint physical custody may not be the right fit.

Likewise, if the parents don’t live close to each other, joint physical custody may be difficult as a practical matter. A long commute to allow both parents to get the children to and from school during their time may be hard on both the parents and children.

It’s important for a parenting schedule to allow both parents to have quality time with their kids. But this doesn’t mean the time needs to be split equally.

Get Child Custody Help Today Get advice from a qualified legal professional.

Child Support Will Be Clear and Consistent

Courts usually order the non-custodial parent to pay child support. The primary custodial parent is then responsible to pay for the children’s basic needs. When questions arise about who will pay for new school clothes for the kids or who will write the check for ballet lessons, you won’t have to fight about it. The custodial parent generally makes decisions about what to buy and pays the expenses out of child support.

In a joint physical custody arrangement, one parent typically still receives child support based on the parties’ respective incomes and the time spent with each parent. However, child support is less than in a primary physical custody arrangement. That means the parties need to discuss and share expenses like extracurricular activities, school clothes, and cell phones.

Conflict Is Minimized

Some parents continue to get along even after divorce. Unfortunately, many parents do not. Joint physical custody requires parents to communicate frequently and make decisions together on a regular basis.

If you struggle to get along with your spouse, no matter whose fault the conflict is, it may be worth considering a primary physical custody arrangement. Although primary physical custody means one parent will spend less time with the children, it also makes it easier to keep the children out of the middle of parental conflict.

Both Parents Can Still Participate in Important Decisions

Many people have the misconception that primary physical custody means you won’t get to participate in your children’s lives. This is not the case.

Most of the time, courts award joint legal custody even when one parent has primary physical custody. Legal custody governs decision-making authority. Under most custody arrangements, parents have equal rights and responsibilities to make crucial decisions concerning their children, particularly with respect to education, religion, and healthcare. They also have the right to access their children’s records and communicate with educational or healthcare providers.

Contact Our Alabama Child Custody Lawyers Today

As one of the country’s largest 100% female-owned family law firms, The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates understands the numerous nuances of family law.

Our firm focuses on an empathetic, emotionally intelligent approach, so our clients feel supported through every step of the divorce process. We work tirelessly to support every client and will fiercely defend your rights and interests. Contact us online or call (256) 859-7277 today to schedule a consultation.

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