Parents typically have questions about child custody when considering a divorce or breakup. Perhaps you’re wondering what joint custody in Alabama means and how to get a joint custody order.
Getting joint custody in Alabama can be challenging. It takes coordination and cooperation between parents. It also requires knowledge of the Alabama joint custody laws. If you’re considering your options, an experienced Alabama child custody attorney at The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates can explain different custody arrangements and help you fight for the best solution for your family.
What Is Joint Child Custody in Alabama?
Before discussing the joint custody law in Alabama, you must first understand the legal definition of child custody in Alabama.
Child custody generally refers to how a child’s care, control, and maintenance are allocated between parents or guardians. Child custody has two elements: legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody means the right to make decisions about a child’s life.
This includes decisions about the child’s:
- Ability to travel and get a passport, and
- Physical and mental health treatment.
When someone has legal custody, they have the right to make these and other important decisions for the child.
Parents with joint legal custody will have the equal right to make decisions about these and other important aspects of the child’s life and care. For joint legal custody to work, parents must be willing to figure out ways to communicate and cooperate with each other to further the child’s best interests.
Physical custody refers to the physical time each parent spends with the child. Typically, in a divorce or child custody case, Alabama courts use one of several parenting plans to schedule a child’s time with each parent.
Parents with joint custody in Alabama typically have relatively equal physical time with the child. However, that’s not always the case. Parents can make different scheduling arrangements while maintaining joint custody as long as it’s in the child’s best interests.
Parents must work together to make a schedule that is truly in the child’s best interest and also works with their competing interests. Each parent’s work schedule, the distance between their residences, and the child’s activities should all be considered when creating a joint custody parenting plan.
Best Interests of the Child
A court will consider the following factors in deciding if joint custody is in the best interests of the child:
- Whether the parents agree to joint custody,
- The ability of the parents to cooperate,
- The ability of each parent to show love and affection to the child,
- Any history of abuse, and
- Any geographical issues.
If both parents request joint custody, the court presumes that joint custody is in the child’s best interests. However, a court may not order joint custody even under these circumstances if it’s not in the child’s best interest.
Parent’s History of Domestic Violence
A court will not grant joint custody if one parent has a history of domestic violence. The court presumes that joint custody would threaten the child’s safety under these circumstances.
The court will grant sole custody to the parent without the abusive past and assign the child’s residence to that parent’s home. The court may grant visitation to the problematic parent. The parent with a problematic past can try to overcome this presumption.
Often, parents want an equal, 50/50 split in parenting time with a child, believing that to be the true definition of joint custody. They may think that anything less will be shared custody instead of joint custody.
Under Alabama law, parents can have joint legal and physical custody of a child without an equal split in parenting time. This means that both parents can have joint custody, can make cooperative decisions for the child, and spend roughly similar amounts of time with the child.
Fortunately, Alabama law accounts for the fact that joint child custody doesn’t mean an exact split of parenting time. Parenting time can’t always be equal because parents and children have diverse schedules.
Our Alabama Child Custody Lawyers Are Here to Help
If you want joint custody, you’ll have to understand Alabama’s complex custody laws and judicial process. Plus, sometimes joint custody in Alabama isn’t right for your family.
Thankfully, The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates can help. We’ve represented many families, advocating for those going through divorce and custody proceedings. Our experienced attorneys will support you every step of the way. Contact us online or call (256) 859-7277 today for a free consultation.