Alabama custody laws for unmarried parents are similar to those of married parents. It may be difficult to determine where the child should live and how much time each parent will get to spend with them, especially for unmarried parents.
When deciding who gets custody of your child, it is important to put your child’s well-being as the top priority. Your child can benefit greatly from parents who work together to create an amicable environment, regardless of whether their wishes were granted in a child custody hearing.
If an agreement for child custody cannot be reached, you may be required to attend mediation. At mediation, you can present your proposal in front of a judge. The judge can accept, deny, or modify your original proposal. The judge will make their decisions based on what they believe to be best for the child.
Components to a Child Custody Agreement
When it comes to figuring out child custody, several components need to be included in the proposal. These components include:
- Custody: This is the care, control, and maintenance of the child’s wellbeing. When parents are unmarried, courts are interested in providing opportunities for both parents to share the custodial rights of the child.
- Visitation: This is the time given to noncustodial parents to spend time with their child. If one parent is given sole custody of a child, the judge will give the noncustodial parent rights to visitation. It is a child’s right to have visitation with both of their parents. Visitation could be reasonable, supervised, or unsupervised.
- Reasonable visitation gives the parents the autonomy to choose their visitation schedule.
- Supervised visitation is granted when a judge does not believe the child should spend time alone with a parent.
- Unsupervised visitation is when a parent can have visits alone with their child on a schedule specified by the court.
- Child support: This is the court-ordered payment the noncustodial parent needs to pay for the basic needs of the child. The Alabama Child Support Guidelines provide information on basic child support obligations.
The Different Types of Child Custody
There are several types of child custody a judge can grant to one or both parents. These include physical custody, legal custody, sole custody, and joint custody.
Physical custody is when a parent has the right for their child to live with them. If joint physical custody is awarded, a child will spend equal amounts of time with both parents. If the child only lives with one parent, that parent has been awarded sole physical custody. In these cases, the noncustodial parent may be awarded visitation rights.
The parent who is awarded legal custody has the right and obligation to make decisions on the child’s care. If the state awards joint legal custody, the parents share the right to make decisions for the child. Examples of obligations they can make include medical decisions and schooling decisions.
If one parent has proven to be unfit, the other parent may gain sole custody of their child. A parent might be deemed unfit because of incarceration, past abuse or neglect, or drug use.
When parents share decision-making responsibilities for the child but do not live together, they have joint custody.
Usually, parents create a schedule that works for them and the child. If parents cannot agree to a schedule, the court will make the decision. Joint custody agreements may look like the following:
- Alternating weeks spent at each parent’s home.
- Alternating periods (weeks, months, years) at each parent’s home.
- Spending weekdays at one parent’s home and weekends at another parent’s home.
- Splitting holidays between both parents.
Joint custody is good for children because they can live and spend time with both parents. However, kids may find it difficult to split their time between two homes.
Alabama Laws Regarding Child Custody
In Alabama, courts understand the role both parents play in a child’s life and if possible, prefer to grant joint custody. However, according to AL Code § 30-3-2, the courts may give custody to either the father or the mother.
A judge will look at the moral character and prudence of the parents to decide for the safety and wellbeing of the children. Witnesses may have to give a testimony to describe if each parent is fit.
Call Today for a Case Review With One of Our Attorneys
At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, we will work hard to protect you from an unfair child custody agreement if you are unmarried. Regardless of how complex your case may be, we are committed to advocating for your rights to have custody of your child. We have saved our clients millions of dollars and helped them get fair custody agreements.
You deserve trusted representation from the attorneys at our firm. Contact us today for a case review. Our lawyers are ready to guide you through the process of obtaining custody of your child.