Alabama Alabama

Child Custody Law

Child Custody General Information - What Is Child Custody?

Child custody is defined as the guardianship over a child, which covers both physical custody and legal custody. In a child custody dispute the court may award joint custody to both parents or sole custody to a single parent.

Child custody cases in Alabama can be either contested and resolved by court order, or noncontested and defined in a child custody agreement between the parents. A custody agreement or order will legally determine, at minimum, the following things:

  • Where the child lives (physical custody)
  • Who is involved in making parenting decisions (legal custody)
  • How the visitation schedule with non-custodial parents or relatives is arranged

This page describes how a contested child custody case is handled in the Alabama court system, and what factors are used to determine which parent gets custody.

Alabama Child Custody Law Summary

After a breakup or divorce in Alabama, couples with children must come to a child custody agreement that describes which parent the children will live with, how visitation will be scheduled, and how the non-custodial parent will pay child support.

Some of the factors considered by Alabama in child custody cases include the child's wishes, willingness of the parent to cooperate with their partner and any history of domestic violence. Alabama considers joint custody orders to be in the best interests of the child where possible.

Which Factors are Considered in a Custody Proceeding?

The court shall consider the same factors considered in awarding sole legal and physical custody through the following factors:

  • The agreement or lack of agreement of the parents on joint custody

  • The past and present ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly

  • The ability of the parents to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent

  • Any history of or potential for child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping

  • The geographic proximity of the parents to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of joint physical custody

The court may order joint custody without the consent of the parents if it is in the best interest of the child.

If both parents request joint custody, then joint custody is considered to be the best interest of the child.

Alabama Child Custody Factors - How Is Child Custody Decided In Alabama?

If the parents are on amicable terms they may agree to custody terms in a parenting agreement between themselves, or via a mediator. If child custody is disputed, however, they will have to receive a child custody order from a Alabama judge, who will attempt to make a custody decision that is in the "best interests of the child".

In the state of Alabama, a number of factors are taken into account by the courts when determining who gets child custody. This section describes Alabama's custody factors, considerations, and presumptions when evaluating a custody order.

Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating child custody in the state of Alabama?

Alabama has a list of statutory factors that are considered by the court when determining a custody order. This list may include factors such as the child's age, the living situation of each parent, any history of abuse or neglect from either parent, etc. Although there is a statutory list of factors, consider other factors at its discretion depending on the particular circumstances of the case.

Do judges in the state of Alabama favor joint custody?

Judges in Alabama are authorized to order either joint or single-parent custody of a child subject to a custody dispute.

Courts in Alabama are presumed to generally favor custody orders granting joint custody between both the parents where possible. However, the judge will evaluate each case individually when determing whether joint custody is in the best interests of the child.

Do Alabama courts encourage parents to cooperate together to raise the child?

Alabama courts favor awarding custody to a cooperative parent who is willing to work together with the other parent regarding child visitation, scheduling, child support, and other co-parenting matters. Alabama law favors co-parenting as being in the best interests of the child, and the courts will favor a parent willing to cooperate over a parent who attempts to alienate their child from the other parent.

Are the child's wishes considered when determining custody in the state of Alabama?

In Alabama, the court does consider the child's reasonable wishes when determining which parent wins custody. The judge may take the child's age, maturity, and judgement into consideration when considering the child's custody preference.

Do Alabama courts consider domestic violence when determining custody?

Alabama has laws that explicitly permit the consideration of domestic violence in conjunction with child custody. This may mean that domestic violence is a statutory factor in custody determinations, that the court has a presumption against custody for abusers, or that special procedural considerations are imposed in cases involving domestic violence.

Do the courts in the state of Alabama have the right to hire an attorney or Guardian Ad Litem to represent the child?

Alabama does not have statutory authority for appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney for a child specifically in child custody case. This person would usually advocate for the best interest of the child.

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