Does Adultery Affect Child Custody in Alabama?

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Alabama Laws Child Custody
This article was reviewed and approved for publication by Attorney Charlotte Christian.
Does Adultery Affect Child Custody in Alabama?

Adultery could affect child custody in Alabama. For instance, if a spouse abandons their wife or husband, the children’s custody may fall to the parent who was abandoned.

When determining custody arrangements, the court may take into consideration the moral character of a parent under certain special circumstances.

A family law attorney who is familiar with Alabama’s child custody laws can help you determine whether adultery will affect your child custody case.

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How Moral Character Affects Child Custody in Alabama

When a judge considers a custody arrangement, their primary concern is to ensure that the arrangement is in the best interests of the child. To do so, they consider a number of factors, including the child’s age, gender, and health. They also take into account each parent’s location, health, stability, and moral character. When a wife or husband abandons their spouse, this can also affect their potential for child custody.

Moral character determinations are relatively subjective and may include the parent’s behavior, reputation, and treatment of the child and other family members. According to Ala. Code § 30-3-1, the child’s custody will fall to the father if the child is over seven years of age and the wife abandons her husband.

It is up to the court to determine what would be considered poor moral character or spouse abandonment in accordance with Alabama codes and existing case law. The judge may find that a parent who committed adultery does not have the moral character necessary for child custody, or that an adulterous act constitutes abandonment. In either situation, a child custody case can be affected by adultery.

What Is Considered Custody in Alabama?

Child custody refers to a parent’s physical or legal responsibility for minor children. While physical custody and legal custody both dictate each parent’s level of responsibility for the child’s care, each governs different aspects of custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to physical responsibility for the child’s well-being, including where they reside, where they go to school, and where they spend weekends and holidays.

With joint physical custody, the child spends time with both parents, but not necessarily equal time. With sole custody, the child lives primarily with one parent, but may have visitation with the other parent.

Legal custody pertains to the parent’s control over decisions regarding education, religion, and non-emergency health care. A parent with sole legal custody could make these decisions without input from the other parent. Parents with joint legal custody would discuss these decisions and come to a mutual agreement.

Although both parents may have joint physical custody of a child, the court may determine that only one parent should have legal custody. Similarly, parents who have sole physical custody may still maintain joint legal custody for major decisions.

To determine the best form of custody agreement for your particular situation, you can get help from a child custody attorney who has experience with every aspect of Alabama family law.

How does a Judge Determine Who Gets Custody?

In Alabama, a judge presiding over a child custody case must decide whether joint or sole physical and legal custody is in the best interests of the child. To make this determination, they will consider the following factors (per Ala. Code § 30-3-152):

  • Whether the parents agree to joint custody
  • Whether the parents can cooperate and make joint decisions
  • Whether the parents can encourage love and affection between the other parent and the child
  • Whether there is a history of abuse or kidnapping on the part of one or both parents
  • Whether the parents live in close geographic proximity to each other

In addition, the judge may consider the child’s age and gender, their relationship to their parent, and the effect that physical custody would have on the child’s educational and social life.

While it is presumed that joint custody is generally in the best interests of the child, the judge may rule for sole custody if a parent has displayed poor judgment or inadequate moral judgment, such as abandonment or exposing the child to unhealthy influences.

How does Adultery Affect the Outcome of My Custody Case?

Adultery can affect the results of a custody case. If the court determines that the parent’s infidelity constitutes abandonment or if the child has experienced emotional hardship due to the infidelity of their parent, the court may find that parent unsuitable to be a custodial parent. As with other aspects of the custody case, the judge will consider the best interests of the child.

While adultery could be a deciding factor in divorce and custody cases, the parent who wishes to claim sole custody must be able to prove that the actions of the parent who committed adultery have negatively affected the child.

Whether you have been accused of adultery or believe your spouse is guilty of adultery, an Alabama family attorney can help you decide how best to move forward with your custody case.

Do I Need an Attorney for My Alabama Custody Case?

It may be in your best interest to seek assistance from a family law attorney who has experience with a variety of divorce and custody cases. Even if you and the other parent are on good terms, child custody discussions are complicated and emotional, and you risk making poor or uninformed decisions that can compromise your case.

With a family attorney representing your best interests, you can determine whether it is in your child’s best interests to seek sole or joint custody, and what a fair custody plan or visitation schedule will look like.

Contact Charlotte Christian Law to Discuss Your Custody Case

With decades of experience in Alabama family law, the legal team at Charlotte Christian Law is prepared to help you through every aspect of your child custody case. Our dedicated custody lawyers will help you build a strong case for physical or legal custody and negotiate the terms of the custodial agreement on your behalf.

Contact us to speak with one of our child custody attorneys about your case.

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