The State of Alabama acknowledges that both mothers and fathers have the right to be with their children and to make decisions about their children's education and upbringing, along with the responsibility to provide for the child's best interests. These rights and responsibilities cannot be separated from one another without good reason, and, as a result the state presumes that both parents have the right to custody of their children as well as the responsibility to provide for their children financially.
This page describes some of the fundamentals of Alabama law with respect to custody rights for both mothers and fathers, but it cannot tell you what your rights are in your situation, so we offer a free consultation that can help you get some grounding in the main issues associated with divorce and child custody. Call 205-417-1453 or contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Joint Custody in Alabama
Much of the old system for establishing child custody in Alabama was replaced when the state moved to a joint custody system. Now, the state policy is to ensure that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents, assuming those parents are both willing and able to act in the child's best interest without undermining the child's relationship to the other parent. Therefore, in Alabama, the assumption is that following a divorce joint custody of the children will be granted.
Joint custody is a combination of joint physical custody and joint legal custody. Joint physical custody means that the child will spend time with both parents predictably, frequently, and for a reasonable length of time. It does not guarantee that both parents will get to spend equal time with their children.
Joint legal custody gives the parents equal rights and responsibilities in making major decisions for the child, including education, health care, and religious upbringing. Sometimes, the court will divide legal custody, giving one parent, for example, the right to make decisions about health care and the other the right to make decisions about religious upbringing, while the two share decisions about education. This decision will be based on the parents' demonstrated ability to make decisions together.
Why Discuss Custody with Your Spouse First
In making a determination of custody for your children, the court may grant any kind of custody it determines is in the best interest of your children. However, if you can come to an agreement with your spouse prior to your hearing, the court is likely to respect that agreement. A successful joint custody plan will take account of all the following:
- Care and education
- Medical and dental care
- Holidays and vacations
- Financial support
- Other factors that may affect the physical and emotional well-being of the child
Even if you are unable to come to a working joint custody plan, making an attempt will work in your favor. When making decisions about custody, the court considers your ability to show and foster respect for the other parent. Reaching out to the other parent or responding to the other parent's request for a discussion can really help you in getting the type of custody you desire.
How a Lawyer Can Help
In order to get the courts to look favorably on your joint custody plan, it has to be complete, orderly, and take into account all the variables the court requests. The Oncale Firm has helped thousands of Alabama couples to file successful custody plans and we know how to put one before the court that has the maximum likelihood of being accepted. In addition, we can handle the negotiations with your spouse that may be difficult for you to handle on your own. Your divorce is an emotional time, and it may be harder now than it has ever been, harder than it will ever be, to look your children's other parent in the eye and make arrangements in a civilized manner. We can step between you and your spouse and assert your rights forcefully but in a way that will not jeopardize your ability to get the custody you desire.
To learn more about child custody laws in Alabama and how The Oncale Firm can speak for you in these proceedings, please call 205-417-1453 or e-mail us today for a free consultation.
Shane Oncale is an experienced Birmingham divorce attorney. Call The Oncale Firm at 205-417-1453 to arrange a free consultation.