In Alabama, the parent receiving child custody is based upon what the court considers to be “in the best interest of the child.” Courts presume that every child needs and deserves to be able to love both parents and to be loved by both parents—however, child custody is awarded to the parent who is viewed by the court to best meet the needs of the child.
If you are seeking child custody, you will learn the essential elements while going through attorney Charlotte Christian’s “Child Custody College.” CCL can assist you in obtaining custody and keeping custody of your child or children.
Types of Child Custody in Alabama
- Physical custody. In this situation, the child lives primarily with one parent and visits the other parent on a visitation-scheduled time frame.
- . If joint physical custody is awarded, the child lives equally with both parties. A common means of executing joint physical custody is by having the children live with the mother for one week and the father the next week.
- Legal custody. The parent who is awarded legal custody has the right to make decisions regarding the legal rights of the child.
- Joint legal custody. Both parents share in making decisions regarding the legal rights of the child.
- Joint legal and physical custody. The child lives equally with both parents. Additionally, both parents share in making decisions regarding the legal rights of the child.
- Sole custody. One parent has been granted both the exclusive legal and physical custody of the child. Although the other spouse may still be permitted visitation rights, the sole custodian makes the decisions for the child.
CCL knows how to make the convincing arguments to persuade the court that placement in your home—and not your former spouse’s—is in your child’s best interest. Whether you live in Huntsville, Guntersville, Athens, Florence, Decatur or anywhere in North Alabama, we are responsive and efficient, desiring and striving to bring out about the most desirable outcome in every case. Charlotte and the rest of our team work with you to ensure that your child custody arrangement is in the best interest of your child.
Moving Children Away from the Non-Custodial Parent & Child Custody
In Alabama, the Parent-Child Relationship Act provides that the custodial spouse must give notice, along with other information, to the noncustodial spouse of his or her intent to move. The custodial spouse cannot move the child more than 60 miles from the residence of the noncustodial spouse without the court’s authority, and the court must deem the move to be in the best interest of the child.
Why do you need a family lawyer? As child custody and support is awarded by the judge, you need an assertive law firm, who knows Alabama custody laws intimately and will forcefully and persuasively present your position in order to only accept what is right for your child or children and you.
Best Practices for Obtaining Child Custody in Alabama
Alabama enacted into law its state policy that parents for a presumption of joint custody between parents is in the child’s best interest. Ala. Code §30-3-150. Joint, though, does not mean equal time with each parent. What the court determines to be in the “best interests of the child” is the basis for all awards of child custody and visitation.
For success in child custody matters, knowing what factors the court can consider in determining child custody, and acting accordingly, is vital. If parents cannot come to agreement on a custody arrangement, the court will take the following factors into consideration in making the decision for you:
- Whether one or both parents foster a relationship with the other parent, or act to thwart a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
- The nature of the relationship between each parent and the child
- A parent’s ability to meet the emotional, educational, material social and moral needs of the child
- The respective home environments
- The age, character, stability, mental and physical health of each parent
- Age and gender of children
- The relationship between children
- Reports and recommendations of any expert or independent investigator
- Desires of the child if of appropriate age and mind
- Domestic violence in the households
- Any other relevant matter evidence discloses
- Additional factors are considered for joint custody including cooperation of the parties, proximity of residences and desire for joint custody
No matter what age, the child should not be put in the middle of a dispute between parents or be made to choose one parent over the other through the efforts of one parent. In all actions, consider how the court will view the behavior. Are you harming the child, helping the child or perhaps helping yourself by inadvertently harming the child?
Surely there are situations involving abuse where a child must be protected from the other parent, but this writing presumes a relationship absent abuse.
A court looks at your behavior and character as it relates to the well-being of your child in all respects. For success in child custody determinations, acknowledging that “success” may be a joint parenting arrangement or a sole custody arrangement or something in between, act appropriately:
- Involve yourself in a positive way in your child’s life, ie. Attend sporting events, parent/teacher conferences, medical appointments, ballet lessons, make cupcakes when asked, know who your child’s friends are and meet their parents, know what your child is doing and where he or she is all the time and make the time to know any childcare providers
- Make certain that your behavior in the child’s presence never presents a negative picture of the other parent (eye rolling and clenched jaws can be perceived by the child for what they are)
- Make all reasonable efforts to foster a positive relationship between the child and other parent, always speaking well of the other parent to the child
- Discuss major decisions and issues with the other parent, if at all possible; at least make the sincere effort to do so
- Help with homework, talk to your child about their day, involve yourself in your child’s life, but do not ever under any circumstances put the child in the middle of a custody dispute
- Do not play games with the other parent, ie. Do not call the police because the child is 5 minutes late in returning with the child, do not call Child Protective Services because the child fell and got a bruise while roller skating with the other parent
- Keep a calendar, which the child will never see or find, of the other parent’s participation in the child’s life, including visitation or parenting time taken advantage of by the other parent, missed parenting time and such things
As a parent, you already know that you need to be doing these things. Your parenting will be judged by a court, and that judgment will see through insincere efforts. If your goal is success in an award of custody, it really is as simple as this: be the best parent to your child that you can possibly be. Courts love that.
Choosing the Right Child Custody Attorney in Alabama
At Charlotte Christian Law, we know that custody issues might be the most difficult part of any divorce case. No parent wants to harm his or her child or children — and custody disputes are typically hardest for the children. Throughout North Alabama, you can call us at 256-859-7277 or contact us online to set up an initial consultation concerning child custody and visitation rights.
[Page Updated on February 18, 2017 by Charlotte Christian in Child Custody]