Child custody issues are often the most emotional and painful aspect of divorce. Whenever possible it is in the best interest of the parents and the child or children if parents can come to an agreement without court intervention. In some cases, that is not realistic. Whether you are facing an initial child custody agreement or seeking modification of an existing custody order, in Huntsville, Alabama, child custody attorney Sarah Rutledge will work hard for you and the best interest of your child.
Physical and Legal Custody
One of the most confusing aspects of child custody is the fact that there are two types of custody.
The physical custody order defines which parent the child will live with and when the child will visit the other parent. Legal custody is the right and responsibility of making major decisions for the child.
Physical and legal custody can each be either sole or joint.
Considerations in Granting Joint Custody
In the spirit of encouraging an active and healthy relationship between the child and both parents, Alabama prefers joint custody. However, the best interest of the child is the first consideration when granting either sole or joint custody. When determining is joint custody is appropriate, the court will consider the following:
- Whether you and the other parent both want joint custody
- Your ability to cooperate in making decisions for your child
- The ability of each of you to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between your child and the other parent
- Whether there is a history or potential for kidnapping, child abuse, or spousal abuse
- How far apart you live and whether that makes joint custody impractical
Considerations in Granting Sole Custody
In some situations, sole custody is in the best interest of the child. When determining which parent should have sole custody, the court will consider the following:
- Gender and age of the child
- Home environment of each parent
- The needs of the child including emotional, educational, material, social and moral needs
- Willingness and ability of each parent to provide for the needs of the child
- Age character, stability, mental and physical health, and any other relevant characteristics of each parent
- The relationship between the child and each parent as well as other children of each parent
- The effect of disrupting the child’s current living arrangements
- The child’s preference, depending on the child’s age and maturity
- Reports and recommendations by investigators and experts
Modification of Child Custody Orders in Huntsville, Alabama
After divorce, people often change and so do their lifestyles, relationships, and living situations. It is not unusual for a parent to significantly improve his or her life and consider filing a child custody modification in order to have more custody and/or visitation rights. On the other hand, some parents fall into unhealthy lifestyles and a reduction of child custody/visitation is necessary to protect the child.
In order to be granted child custody modification in Alabama you must prove that there is a material change in the circumstances regarding the child and that the modification will be in the best interest of the child.
To learn more about child custody and your rights, in Huntsville, Alabama, please call child custody attorney Sarah Rutledge at 251-300-1653 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.