Family Law

Family law is often the broad term used to refer to divorce, child custody, visitation, paternity, child support, alimony, domestic violence and almost any “family” based dispute or legal issue. In some jurisdictions “family court” and “divorce” are in the same division and heard by the same judges, however, in the larger jurisdictions such as Birmingham, Jefferson County, Shelby County and Huntsville, Madison County, these courts are held separately and presided over by separate judges.

Family Court

In Alabama “family court” is the court system where most cases involving children born out of wedlock are handled. In these types of cases, even if an acknowledgement of paternity or similar document is signed at the hospital and the father appears on the birth certificate paternity must still be established in the court system before custody and visitation rights can be established. Many fathers and mothers for that reason believe that some ornate or immediate rights come out of merely being on the birth certificate, however, under the law, being listed on the birth certificate only creates a presumption of paternity. Family Court is also the court in which Protection from Abuse (“PFA”) Orders are sought.

Child Support

Family court is also where child support is established. Many fathers think that when they are “put on” child support that custody and visitation will also be established. This is simply not true in Alabama. While paternity must be established before child support is assessed a father must file a petition seeking custody and visitation before it will be addressed by the court. Simply showing up at your child support hearing will get you nothing but child support. Your visitation will remain at the whim of the mother unless you specifically seek and obtain an order on visitation.

Many fathers also find when they get to family court that child support is established without any real inquiry as to the true earnings or earning potential of the mother. Child support calculations we review on a regular basis are unfair or improperly calculated, do not correctly reflect an assessment of the mother’s earning ability and do not properly give credit for child support already being paid on another child.

It is imperative in Alabama, when facing a claim for child support that you seek out representation so that you do not walk away with an unfair wage garnishment and no corresponding custody or visitation rights. You have rights but those rights are hard to impossible to assert and protect on your own. Skilled representation is needed.

Protection From Abuse Orders

Family Court in Alabama is the court from which Protection from Abuse (PFA) Orders are issued. Many family law disputes and divorces start with one party filing for a Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order. A PFA is no joke. The party seeking a PFA can often get a distinct advantage in child custody litigation or in a divorce case because such orders typically force one party out of the residence and require that they have no contact and remain a stated distance from the other party and often a child the parties share together. Violation of a PFA is a crime. If issued and not modified a PFA remains in effect for 99 years.

If you are served with a PFA it is imperative that you seek legal counsel and take immediate legal action to protect your rights. PFA cases have a way of taking on a life of their own and representation is needed at the earliest stages to insure the best result.

The Oncale Firm

We provide experienced representation in the broad spectrum of family law and in the family courts of Alabama.

Our firm has spent decades assisting families as they make their way down this difficult path. We offer you our knowledge, our experience, our sympathy and our understanding as we make this journey together.

Family Law Related Services We ProvideFamily Law Attorney

If you are moving toward divorce, we welcome the opportunity to represent you and help you through the process. Our goal is to achieve your objectives with the minimum disruption and heartache as possible.

Shane Oncale is an experienced Birmingham family law attorney. Contact The Oncale Firm at (205) 458-9805 to arrange a free consultation.

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