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Should Alabama’s child custody laws be reformed?

The National Parents Organization of Alabama, a group that advocates for the best interests of children, is recommending that Alabama reform its child custody laws to promote shared parenting arrangements in cases of divorce or separation.

Shared parenting means that both parents play an important and significant role in the child’s life following a divorce or separation. Today, Alabama law presumes that both parents should share joint physical and legal custody of their child, but it is still somewhat common in the state for one parent to be awarded sole custody while the other parent is granted limited parenting time.

The National Parents Organization of Alabama believes that this is unhealthy for children as research has concluded that children do best in shared parenting arrangements when both parents are fit and willing to participate in the child’s life. The group says that the issue is particularly important in the state of Alabama, which has the nation’s fourth highest divorce rate.

Three years ago, state lawmakers considered a bill that would have promoted shared parenting, but the bill did not pass. The National Parents Organization of Alabama is calling on state lawmakers to get behind and approve child custody law reform that promotes shared parenting so that children will benefit from the love of both parents.

Of course, there is another side to the issue as well. Some advocates have concern that the arrangement would mean that judges no longer have the ability to weigh the true best interests of the child if they are too focused on giving both parents equal parenting time. Additionally, there is concern about applying shared parenting in cases with a history of domestic violence.

As with any family law issue, there are many complicating and conflicting factors that need to be considered before the law is changed.

Source: The Huntsville Times, “Shared parenting: Alabama’s child custody reform solution: reader opinion,” Austin Burdick, Oct. 22, 2014