WAR Law- Child Custody Lawyers in Birmingham Alabama
Child custody laws in Alabama favor joint custody. It is Alabama state policy that parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of their children are encouraged to share in the rights and responsibilities of rearing their children after they have separated or dissolved their marriage.
According to custody laws in Alabama, joint custody does not necessarily mean equal physical custody. Alabama child custody laws differentiate between joint legal custody and joint physical custody. Joint legal custody contemplates a situation where both you and your ex-spouse have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning your child such as education, health care and religion. A divorce court may designate one parent to have sole power to make some decisions while both parents retain equal rights for other decisions.
Alabama child custody laws define joint physical custody as a parenting arrangement where the child is assured frequent and substantial contact with both parents. Joint physical custody is often referred to as shared parenting or co-parenting. This means that both you and your ex-spouse have an equal right and responsibility to make important decisions regarding issues of health, education, general welfare and religion affecting your child. Again, this does not always mean that both you and your ex-spouse will have equal amounts of time with your child and it necessitates that you and your ex-spouse work together for the benefit of your child.
Custody laws in Alabama also contemplate other types of custodial arrangements such as sole legal custody and sole physical custody. In a situation where a parent has sole legal custody, that parent will have the sole right and responsibility to make major decisions concerning the child. These key decisions include education, health, religion and general welfare. Sole legal custody means that the child only lives with one parent. In cases where a parent has sole physical custody, the non-custodial parent may have visitation rights unless those rights have been stripped by the court. These types of custodial arrangements are less common and usually require the parent seeking them to show to the court a need for them.
Under Alabama child custody laws, because joint custody is favored, the court will consider joint custody in every case. If both you and your ex-spouse request joint custody, the court will generally order it unless the court makes specific findings as to why joint custody is not in the best interests of your child. Custody laws in Alabama disfavor granting custody to a parent who has been violent toward a spouse or a child. In these cases, the judge must consider the history of domestic violence and cannot consider the fact that the parent who is the victim of the abuse has moved to avoid the abuse. In some instances, custody may be awarded to grandparents instead of one or both of the parents.
In determining the appropriate custodial arrangement for your child, the court can consider the agreement or lack of agreement of you and your ex-spouse regarding joint custody, the past and present ability of you and your ex-spouse to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly, the ability of you and your ex-spouse to encourage the sharing of love, affection and contact between your child and the other parent, whether there has been a history of or if there is a potential for child abuse, spousal abuse or kidnaping, and the geographic proximity of you and your ex-spouse to each other.
No matter how strongly one parent believes they are the better parent and should have custody of the child, the court may decide otherwise. Each parent must be ready to accept the court’s decision and move forward to work with their ex-spouse to raise the child in a way that is best for them. For over 15 years, WAR Law has also served as lawyers for children (also known as guardians ad litem) therefore, we are well equipped to weigh pros and cons of custodial arrangements with you and discuss their effect on your children. If you are seeking to gain or re-gain custody of your child, we stand ready to assist you in this endeavor and have good working relationships with numerous counselors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and other medical and mental health professionals.
Alabama child custody laws are also clear that records and information regarding your child must be equally available to both you and your ex-spouse regardless of the custody arrangements. This means that both you and your ex-spouse must have access to the child’s medical, psychological, dental, scholastic, athletic, extracurricular, law enforcement and any other records or information. This is so that both parents remain fully informed about what is occurring in their child’s life.
Where the terms “custody” and “custodian” refer to which parent the child will live with, terms such as “access,” “visitation” and “non-custodial parent” refer to the type of contact the parent that the child does not live with will have with the child. Just like in making a custody determination, Alabama courts have broad discretion in setting visitation arrangements. The court can order visitation even in a situation where you and your ex-spouse have agreed to no visitation. The court also has the latitude to decide if you and your ex-spouse need to follow a visitation schedule or if more general arrangements will be allowed. As a general rule, in our experience, most Alabama custody agreements and court orders afford the non-custodial parent standard visitation however, there are always exceptions to this rule and the overriding concern of the court is what is best for the child. Generally, parental cooperation and written parenting agreements can be quite helpful. If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on child custody and visitation, Alabama courts can order both of you to participate in counseling or other programs that will assist you in gaining an understanding of the effect your disagreement can have on your children. As stated previously, we often serve as lawyers for children (guardian ad litem Alabama) so we are skilled in looking at Alabama custody agreements from all angles.
Because Alabama child custody laws favor joint custody, shared parenting agreements can often be useful to specifically lay out each parents role in the day to day life of their child. Shared parenting agreements, require flexibility and dedication of both parents to act in the best interest of their child. They also necessitate that both parents will encourage and respect the relationship of the child with the other parent. Shared parenting agreements can help to reduce the traumatic impact of a divorce on the child.
After the court decides on custody and visitation, the judge will sign an order. Both parents are bound by the order of the court and can be held in contempt of court for failing to adhere to any part of the order. If the custodial parent denies the non-custodial parent visitation that does not mean the non-custodial parent may withhold court ordered child support. The proper course of action would be to seek assistance from the court in enforcing the visitation order. WAR Law, child custody lawyers in Birmingham Alabama, can assist you if you are not receiving your visitation as ordered or if you are not receiving court ordered child support.
Alabama child custody laws specifically address long distance parental relocation. Distant relocation is presumed by custody laws in Alabama to be contrary to the best interests of your child. Under Alabama child custody laws, the custodial parent who is seeking to move out of the immediate area must give the non-custodial parent notice of the planned move. The non-custodial parent then has the right to object to the relocation and request a hearing before the court. WAR Law, child custody lawyers in Birmingham Alabama, can advise you if you are a parent seeking to relocate or if your ex-spouse is seeking to relocate with your child.
Grandparents rights in Alabama
Child custody laws in Alabama, provide that grandparents may petition the court for access to a child and can be awarded visitation if the court feels the visitation would be in the best interest of the child. One of the following conditions must exist: one or both of the parents of the child are no longer living, the marriage of the parents of the child has been legally dissolved, a parent of the child has abandoned the child, the child was born out of wedlock, or when the child is living with both parents, who are still married, whether there is a broken relationship between either or both parents and the grandparent and either or both parents have used their parental authority to prohibit a relationship between the child and the grandparent. A grandparent may intervene and seek to establish visitation in cases where child custody is at issue, a divorce proceeding or in certain types of termination of parental rights cases. Again, the overriding concern of the court is what is in the best interests of the child and grandparent visitation will not be awarded if the visitation would endanger the physical health of the child or impair the emotional development of the child. There are a number of factors that the court will consider when determining the best interests of the child. If you are seeking to establish grandparents rights in Alabama, please call WAR Law today!
Blood tests and DNA tests can be used to determine a child’s father. Establishing paternity gives a child born outside of marriage the same legal rights as a child born to married parents. Children with legal fathers are entitled to benefits through their fathers that may include child support, Social Security benefits, veteran’s benefits and inheritance rights. A father to a child born outside of marriage, may need to establish paternity in order to obtain visitation with the child. A mother may wish to establish paternity for her child to put in place a court order of child support. Children may also benefit by knowing their biological family’s cultural and medical history. Either parent may take action to legally establish paternity. It is important that you know your legal rights if you have a child who has been born outside of a marriage. WAR Law is experienced in handling paternity matters from both the mother’s side and the father’s side.
Child support in Alabama is calculated based on a state-mandated formula. Whether you are seeking child support or wish to modify an existing child support obligation, we can help you navigate this confusing, time consuming process. When you retain our law firm, Ms. Reese will sit down with you and explain the state-mandated calculation and the estimated child support payments. She will also guide you through preparing the documents that will need to be prepared, preparing them promptly and filing them with the Court.
Modification of Existing Child Support Order/Enforcement of Existing Child Support Order
Everyone struggles financially from time to time and with the current status of the economy, job security and financial security are becoming more difficult to obtain. If you have recently had a change in employment or loss of employment and are making less money than you did when child support was originally ordered, do not wait, call us today to determine if you need to petition the court to modify your child support order. We will consult with you to determine your current finances and your finances at the time the original child support order was entered and help you determine if a petition to modify should be filed.
If you are currently receiving child support and you know the person making the child support payments has recently received a raise or a promotion, you may wish to petition the court to modify your child support order. We can explain the possible outcomes of such action and assist you in making a determination whether to file.
If there is a court order in place ordering a party to pay child support and that party is non-compliant with payments, our office is available to assist you in enforcing a child support order.
Whatever your child custody legal needs are, WAR Law will meticulously evaluate your case, giving you straight forward, honest legal advice. Since 1999, WAR Law has been trusted child custody lawyers in Birmingham Alabama. At WAR Law we are well versed regarding child custody laws in Alabama and would love to be of assistance to you and your family if you are seeking legal advice in Alabama.
Please call us today at (205) 402-2009 or send us an email to WendyReese2001@yahoo.com to schedule your free 30 minute consultation. If you are viewing our website on a handheld device click (205) 402-2009 to call or click WendyReese2001@yahoo.com to send an email.
The information contained in this page is meant strictly as a general overview of some of the basic custody laws in the State of Alabama. Because child custody matters are often very complex, nothing stated herein is a substitute for legal consultation and retention of an attorney in your jurisdiction. This webpage is not a substitute for legal advice in Alabama.