Custody & Visitation
The Best Interests of The Child Standard in Alabama
The main consideration in a court’s award of custody is the “best interests of the child.” A judge will evaluate various aspects in determining the child’s best interests, including:
- The agreement (or lack thereof) between the parents
- The sex and age of the child
- The needs of the child (such as material, educational, and emotional), and the ability of each parent to meet those requirements
- A parent’s home environment
- A parent’s mental and physical health, stability, and age
- The nature of the relationship between the child and a parent
- The nature of the relationship of the child with any siblings
- The effect of any change to the current custody agreement on the child
- Expert reports and recommendations, such as psychologists
- Any other aspects related to custody
Notably, a judge can also consider a child’s preferences, but only if they find the child is of appropriate age and maturity. In general, more weight will be given to the wishes of the child the older they are.
The Unique Custody Rules in Alabama
Joint Custody Preference
Alabama law is tilted towards a preference for both parents to share a child’s custody as equally and practically as possible in a divorce case. In fact, the court believes in offering both parents the chance to develop a healthy relationship with their child, irrespective of the breakdown of the marriage.
In certain cases, a third party or a person other than the biological parents of the child tries to obtain custody of the child. Such cases require the third party to prove that one or both parents are not fit to raise the child.
There is a specific provision in Alabama law that states that if the wife abandons the husband, the husband will acquire child custody when the child attains the age of seven years. Before granting child custody, the court will determine that the husband is a “suitable person” to be given custody.
According to Alabama law, if the court establishes that a parent has committed family or domestic violence, there is a presumption that giving that parent any type of custody would not be in the best interests of the child. However, this presumption can be contended, meaning that if the parent proves before a judge that the child will remain safe in their custody, they may be granted custody.
Parenting Time (Visitations) in Alabama
If a child lives with one parent, the other parent is usually granted visiting rights or “parenting time.” The visitation schedule typically depends on the unique facts of each case. However, the child’s best interest is the controlling factor.
When a parent lives in another state, setting a visitation schedule can be more complex. In such situations, the visitation periods are typically longer but spread out over the year (for instance, extended visitation during spring or winter break).
Sadly, at times, a child’s safety may be compromised during visitation with a parent. For instance, if the visiting parent has a record of child abuse or domestic violence incidents, or if a parent has an untreated substance or alcohol abuse problem, the court must take measures to make sure that the visitation is safe and appropriate for the child.
The court will likely order “supervised” visitation in such cases to ensure the safety of the child (as well as the other parent). A third-party must be present during a supervised visitation. At times, this means that the visitation will take place at a facility operated by a state-sanctioned agency. But the court may also permit a trustworthy relative or friend to oversee the visits if the possibility of harm is minimal.
Legal Help with Custody Matters
A custody dispute can be one of the most stressful events you experience. The skilled child custody lawyers at Smith Law Firm can:
- Explain all possible types of custody arrangements
- Negotiate a favorable custody arrangement
- Assist in the resolution of matters in mediation
- Offer strong legal representation in family court
- Request child custody order modification or defend against a proposed modification
- Take measures to prevent interference with your custody rights
- Resolve matters pertaining to the relocation of an ex-spouse to another state
- In some cases, assist grandparents in seeking child custody
Legal Assistance in Visitation Matters
Parents often cooperate with each other on visitation matters. However, sometimes lingering negative sentiments or honest disagreements may impact such issues. The experienced visitation rights lawyers at the law offices of Smith Law Firm can help you with the following:
- Counsel you on visitation rights
- Negotiable a viable visitation schedule
- Help you mediate the issue
- Offer representation in family court
- Prevent impingement of your visitation rights
- Protect the visitation rights of unmarried fathers
- Assist grandparents in seeking visitation in certain situations
Child Custody and Visitation Rights of the Father
The biological parents of a child are entitled to seek both custody and visitation of their child. Regardless of whether the child’s parents were married or not when they were born, this right stands.
Along with many other decisions on child custody, the Alabama family court system uses the child’s best interest’s standard to determine child custody and any visitation schedule applicable to the case. Unless otherwise indicated, the court assumes that a child benefits from the involvement of both parents, including the father.
Speak to a Skilled Alabama Family Attorney for Help with Custody and Visitation Issues
It is vital to work with a seasoned family attorney if you are embroiled in a child custody or visitation rights battle. Any decision on the matter will depend on the judge’s perception of what is in the best interest of the child.
A competent attorney will understand precisely how to present your case in a manner that proves that you can offer your child a great home. They have a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of divorce law in AL and will leave no stone unturned to ensure that you and your child remain together.
At Smith Law Firm, we are committed to providing strong legal guidance for parents involved in child custody disputes or other family law matters. If you are facing a child custody issue in AL, call today at (334) 702-1744 for a detailed consultation with one of our family law attorneys.