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Temporary Custody Laws in Alabama

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Child Custody
Post Author Image This article was reviewed and approved for publication by Attorney Charlotte Christian.
temporary custody laws in Alabama

Alabama has one of the highest divorce rates in the country. Because of the high volume, divorce cases sometimes remain in family court for months or years before getting a final hearing. Custody determinations are just one part of these sometimes lengthy proceedings. 

Alabama courts understand and appreciate the short-term and long-term implications of the decisions regarding the health, safety, and well-being of parents and children.

As such, Alabama allows parents to petition for temporary custody during the pendency of the divorce or custody case. Individuals seeking temporary or permanent custody arrangements should consult with an experienced Alabama custody attorney to discuss their legal rights and options. 

Give us a call at (256) 859-7277 or send us an online message today for a free consultation.

Types of Custody Arrangements in Alabama 

In Alabama, custody refers to the legal responsibility to care for, supervise, and make responsible decisions for a minor child. Alabama is one of the few states where a “minor child” is a child who is 19 years old or younger. The state takes a “two-tiered” approach to custody arrangements. 

First Tier

The first tier addresses legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the responsibility for making critical decisions about the child’s education, religion, and medical care. Physical custody refers to where the child is going to live. 

Second Tier

The second tier involves “sole” and “joint” custody arrangements. Parents with “sole legal custody” have complete decision-making control over the child.

Similarly, in cases where the court orders sole physical custody to one parent, the child will reside with that parent, and the other parent will have visitation rights. The state favors joint legal custody as it tends to lead to frequent and consistent contact with both parents. 

Pendente Lite Custody in Alabama

Parties to an Alabama divorce may file a motion for pendente lite custody. These motions ask the court to issue temporary orders addressing issues that arise while a divorce is pending. The court may address child support, child custody, alimony, and restraining orders.

However, temporary orders can set the status quo for permanent custody determinations. As such, it is important that parents consult with an experienced attorney before filing or agreeing to any permanent or temporary custody arrangements.

Temporary Custody Agreement in Alabama

The court will often order temporary custody before issuing a final custody decision. These temporary orders provide an interim solution if the parents cannot agree to a custody arrangement. Temporary orders reduce disputes between parents and provide children with some level of consistency. 

Factors Courts Use to Determine Custody

Alabama prioritizes “the best interests of the child” when deciding custody. 

Courts will evaluate some of the following factors:

  • Any agreement between the parents,
  • The age and sex of the minor,
  • The child’s emotional and educational needs, 
  • The home environment each parent can provide,
  • The nature of the child’s relationship with a parent or sibling,
  • The impact of the change of a standing custody arrangement, and
  • Recommendations of experts.

Alabama courts may consider a child’s preferences as well. However, the weight of these preferences depends on the child’s age and development. 

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Reasons to Get a Temporary Custody Order

Primarily, temporary custody orders address the interim between filing a petition and obtaining a final custody order. These orders may be necessary if one parent cannot care for a child because of work obligations, illness, or another circumstance.

Further, temporary orders address situations where one parent is abroad, deployed, or incarcerated. Finally, a temporary order may be necessary for the health or safety of a child. 

How Long Does Temporary Custody Last?

Custody arrangements can have long-term implications on the responsibility, involvement, and relationship between a parent and their child. Depending on the facts and circumstances of a divorce, temporary custody arrangements can last for the duration of the divorce proceedings or until contested issues are resolved. 

How to File for Temporary Custody in Alabama

It’s best to have an attorney file this motion for you. 

But generally, filing for temporary custody in Alabama involves the following steps:

  • File for custody in family court or another court that hears these types of matters,
  • Gather evidence and prepare a compelling case for custody,
  • Prepare for the custody hearing, and
  • Review options for reconsideration or appeal. 

An attorney can help parents navigate this process. 

Learn More About Temporary Custody Laws in Alabama by Speaking with an Experienced Family Attorney

Few issues are more important and emotionally taxing for parents than those related to child custody. So, if you are concerned about temporary child custody during the pendency of a divorce, reach out to the dedicated Alabama divorce lawyers at The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates.

Our lawyers take a practical approach to solving your pressing legal issues, relying on common-sense solutions that are designed to protect your interests.

We have extensive experience handling divorce cases from beginning to end, including all the related issues that come up along the way, such as temporary child custody. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call (256) 859-7277 or fill out our online contact form

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