Birmingham Child Custody Lawyer
Serving Jefferson County and Surrounding Areas
When forced to make decisions regarding child custody in an Alabama divorce or post-divorce action, judges base their decisions on one factor above all else: what custody plan will be in the child’s best interest. Unfortunately, parents don’t always agree about what their child’s best interests are, and child custody disputes can become heated, emotional affairs. At Peeples Law, we approach every case differently based on the issues and the personalities of the parties involved. We truly believe that even the most difficult child custody cases can be worked out if the parties are willing to sit down together and find common ground. As a certified mediator and experienced family law attorney, Birmingham child custody lawyer Candi Peeples will do everything she can to help couples create a child custody plan that meets everybody’s needs and desires. When an agreement is not in the cards, Candi is an experienced litigator ready to go court and fight for a custody determination that respects her client’s rights and truly meets the child’s best interests.
Your relationship with your children likely tops the list of your concerns when you are thinking about divorce. Peeples Law can help. Call our office in Birmingham for practical advice and zealous advocacy in any Alabama divorce or child custody dispute.
Types of Child Custody in an Alabama Divorce
When discussing child custody in Alabama, custody needs to be thought of in two different ways: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is what most people think about when they hear the word “custody”. Physical custody answers the question, “Which parent does the child live with?” If the parents can’t agree on a custody plan, the court will decide where the child lives. The judge can award custody to one parent – sole custody – or custody might be shared by the parents, known as joint or shared custody. Some form of joint custody is the default arrangement in most Alabama custody cases, but custody is not typically divided equally. More often, one parent is given primary custody, and the other, non-custodial parent, has visitation. Whether to award sole custody or joint custody and which parent becomes the primary custodial parent are decisions left to the judge after considering what type of custody plan is in the child’s best interests.
The other type of custody to be decided is called legal custody. Legal custody refers to the legal right, authority and responsibility to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare. The parent with legal custody decides where the child goes to school, what form of religious instruction the child receives, the child’s healthcare and medical needs, what extracurricular activities the child will participate in, and so on. Obviously, legal custody is equally as important as physical custody when it comes to raising a child. Here too, the court will opt for the parents to share legal custody unless the judge is convinced that joint legal custody would not be in the child’s best interest. Even where one parent has sole or primary physical custody, the parents can still share legal custody and make decisions jointly according to the custody plan.
How Alabama Courts Decide What Type of Custody Is in the Child’s Best Interest
The best approach is always for the parents to work out a custody plan between themselves, but this is not always possible. In those cases, the judge will decide custody after hearing from both sides regarding what they believe would be in the child’s best interest. It is essential to be represented by a skilled custody attorney with courtroom experience to make sure your voice is heard and that compelling arguments are made on your behalf. Factors influencing the judge’s decision on child custody include the following factors:
- The age of the child
- The emotional, educational and material needs of the child, and how well each parent can meet those needs
- The relationship between the child and each parent, as well as siblings
- The age and health of the parents, along with their emotional stability and financial situation
- The ability of each parent to encourage a meaning relationship between the child and the other parent
- How well the parents are able to communicate and cooperate for the child’s well-being
- The home environment provided by each parent
- The distance between each parent’s residence
- Whether a change in the child’s residence would impact the child’s family relationships and social life
- Any history of domestic violence by either parent
- The child’s individual preference, if the child is considered old enough and mature enough to provide input to the court
- Any recommendations provided by child psychologists or other experts offered by the parents or ordered by the court
Call Peeples Law in Birmingham for Help With Child Custody and Divorce
Candi Peeples and her team will put together a strong case based on all relevant factors and present convincing arguments to the judge based on Alabama law and the facts at hand. Count on Peeples Law to be a forceful and effective advocate in your corner to achieve a custody plan that meets your needs and your child’s best interests. For help with a child custody matter in Jefferson County or a surrounding area, call Peeples Law in Birmingham at 205-403-5577.