When a couple who has children together decides to file for divorce or otherwise end their relationship, the custody of the children they share becomes a primary focus. In an ideal circumstance, both parents will want to have custody of the children and will be happy to share join custody. But, more often than not, this is not the way a child custody proceeding plays out, so it is important for both parents to know the child custody laws in their state in order to have the most fair, and favorable outcome to the case.
Child Custody Laws in Alabama
When it comes to child custody laws in Alabama, the court system uses a number of different factors in order to determine the custody arrangement. The family court system in this state ideally wants to award custody to both parents so they can share the responsibilities and rights associated with raising their children. For those parents who wish to file and petition the court for custody of their child or children, it is very important that they understand how the child custody laws in Alabama actually work.
What Determines Child Custody in Alabama
One of the most difficult decisions a court system will make either during a divorce or a child custody case is whom will be awarded physical custody of the child or children to in this situation. Alabama courts may give custody of the child or children to the mother or the father or they will, in the ideal situation, award custody to both parents. When determining child custody the judge will take the prudence and moral character of the parents into consideration, as well as the age, sex, and needs of the child or children involved in the situation. Some additional considerations that are made include:
- Each parents ability to provide a home for the child or children
- Each parents financial ability to provide shelter, food, and clothing for the child or children
- Each parents ability to foster and encourage a positive relationship between the child or children and the other parent
- Each parents ability to make important decisions about the child or children’s health, education, and upbringing
- Each parents ability to provide a proper education for the child or children
The family court judge, in both Alabama and almost every other state in the country, will always make a child custody decision that they feel is in the best interest of the child or children involved in the divorce or in the case. The child or children’s well-being is the highest priority and, regardless of what the parents may want in terms of child custody, what is best for the child or children will always be the biggest factor when it comes to who will be caring for and have custody of the children after divorce.
Types of Child Custody in Alabama
Since joint custody is the primary goal for the family court system, it is possible for courts in Alabama to order joint custody in a situation with or without the consent of the parents. This decision is usually made if the judge feels that this arrangement is in the best interest of the child or children who are involved. In the state of Alabama joint custody can be joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both. When making this ruling, the judge will take many factors into consideration to make a final decision.
Some of the factors the family court system will look at include:
- The parent’s agreement or lack of agreement when it comes to joint custody
- The parents proximity to one another geographically as it relates to the ease of maintaining joint custody
- The parents ability to communicate and work with one another and their ability to make joint decisions in the best interests if the child or children
- The parents ability to give affections and encourage love between the child or children and the other parent
- If either of the parents have any history of abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse, or kidnapping that should be addressed
Child Custody Modification in Alabama
When it comes to child custody modification in the state of Alabama, these cases will carry a heavy burden of proof from the parent requesting the modification. Alabama requires the parent requesting the modification to demonstrate a list of things in order for them to possible obtain the modification they are seeking. Some of the items they must demonstrate include:
- A change in circumstances that has happened since the last child custody judgment was established
- That the benefits of the child custody modification will more than offset the disruptive effect the change will cause to the child or children and the other parent
- That the modification of the child custody agreement is in the best interest of the child or children
These standards can often times be very hard for custodial parents to reach, and for good reason. The reason why these standards are so strict is to help minimize the changes and disruption that child custody changes can cause to the child or children and the parent who did not request the modification. Alabama family courts will always assume that stability in the child or children’s lives is much more important to their well-being and upbringing than the constant changing of a child custody agreement.
Child Custody and Relocation in Alabama
It is possible that, after the child custody agreement has been made, one parent will want to or need to relocate and wish to take the child or children with them. When this issue is brought back to the court system, the judge will again have to consider a number of factors in order to make the decision he or she believes is in the best interest of the child or children involved. Some of the factors loooked at to make this decision include:
- The child or children’s ages and needs (the judge will likely give special consideration to those children who have special needs)
- The quality of the relationship between the child or children and the parent who wishes to relocate
- The quality of the relationship between the child or children and the parent who is not relocating
- Whether or not the reason for the relocation will help to improve the parent and child or children’s lives (this can include financially, emotionally or educationally)
- The cost and availability of communication alternative between the child or children and the parent who is not relocating
- The reasons why the non-moving parent is protesting the other parent moving
- The child or children’s preferences for who they wish to live with (this will be dependent on the child or children’s ages)
Dealing with a child custody battle can be difficult for the parents and the child or children involved in the case. Whenever possible, the court will encourage the parents to come to a mutual decision when it comes to the custody of their child or children in order to encourage positive communication and a positive relationship between the child or children and both of the parents. It is of the utmost importance that, regardless of the parent’s relationship, the child or children is to the top priority.