Going through a divorce can be a difficult process, and when you have children to take into consideration, it can become even more difficult. In the state of Alabama, child custody is never a cut and dry issue. Many factors can contribute to the decision about who gets custody, or if custody is shared equally. It’s generally the court’s preference that custody is shared between both parents, but with other factors at play, that’s not always the case. The court must consider the best interests of the child when making a determination about custody.
Here are some of the influencing factors when it comes to child custody decisions:
- The age and gender of the child
- The physical and mental health of the parents and the child
- The parents’ ability to provide for the child’s basic needs, such as food, shelter, and medical care
- The parents’ past and present conduct, including any history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or criminal activity
- The child’s relationship with each parent and any siblings or other family members
- The parents’ willingness to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent
- The child’s preference, if the child is old enough and mature enough to express a preference
- The distance between the parents’ homes and the impact that distance may have on the child’s daily life, including schooling and extracurricular activities
- Any other relevant factors that may affect the child’s well-being
In Alabama, both joint legal and joint physical custody are possible options for separated parents. Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal rights to make decisions regarding their child’s upbringing such as education, health care, religion, etc. Joint physical custody means that both parents have equal time with their child. In some cases, one parent may have sole legal or sole physical custody while still allowing visitation rights to the other parent.
The court will also consider any history of domestic violence or abuse when making a determination about custody. If there is evidence of domestic violence or abuse against either parent or against a third party in front of a minor child then this will be taken into consideration when deciding who should have primary custody of a minor child.
Courts also consider each parent’s ability to meet the needs of the child, including providing adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education and other necessities. The court may also look at each parent’s lifestyle and habits such as drug or alcohol use or criminal activity that could negatively affect the child’s wellbeing.
In addition to considering each parent’s ability to provide for their children, courts also take into account any existing relationships between the parents and their children. This includes looking at how involved each parent has been in their children’s lives up until this point as well as any special bonds that may exist between them. Courts will also look at which parent has been primarily responsible for caring for the children up until now and whether it would be disruptive to change this arrangement.
Finally, courts will consider any other relevant factors that could impact a child’s wellbeing such as age-appropriate preferences of older children or special needs of disabled children. Ultimately, courts strive to make decisions that are in line with what is best for the overall welfare of all parties involved in a custody dispute.
When it comes to changing an existing order for custody or visitation in Alabama, either parent can file a Request to Change Custody or Visitation form with their local court clerk’s office. The court will then review all relevant information before making a decision on whether or not to modify an existing order.
It’s important to note that Alabama law presumes that joint custody is in the best interest of the child, unless one parent is found to be unfit or there is a history of domestic violence. In cases where joint custody is not appropriate, the court may award sole custody to one parent and establish visitation rights for the other parent.
It is important for anyone considering filing for divorce in Alabama to understand how child custody is determined by courts in this state so they can make informed decisions about what is best for their family during this difficult time. It is also important to seek out an experienced Alabaster divorce attorney if you need help navigating this process so you can ensure your rights are protected and your children’s best interests are taken into account throughout your case