Does My Child Have A Say In Who Gets Custody?
The process of determining custody of your children can be gut-wrenching and emotionally terrible. It can be hard to feel like you are potentially losing access to a person who you helped create. It can also be hard to understand all the legal intricacies of the child custody hearing and decision-making process. Our hope is that by having a better understanding of how courts make custody decisions in Alabama, it will help you to feel more comfortable and empowered going through the process. It is also a good idea to speak with a lawyer so that you have complete information going into the hearing as well as a strategy for getting the best possible outcome in your case. The information in this article is intended to be general, but you are welcome to speak one-on-one with an experienced Birmingham, Alabama child custody lawyer by contacting us to schedule a consultation.
Can My Child Pick Who Gets Custody in Alabama?
Having to choose which parent to live with can be traumatic for a child, and Alabama courts discourage having children testify as to who they would prefer to live with. However, a child’s preference can be considered by a judge in combination with a number of other factors. A judge can consider a child’s preference if the judge believes the child is mature enough to have a reasonable and intelligent opinion. It is then up to the judge how much weight to give to the child’s opinion, and how to weigh it against all other factors.
Factors in Determining Custody
Alabama judges are meant to determine custody based on the best interest of the child. This is assessed by considering a number of factors, including the child’s age, needs, and existing custody schedule and routine. The judge may also consider each parent’s mental and physical condition, their home environment, the kind of stability they can provide, and the kind of relationship that the child has with each of them. The judge may also consider expert reports, such as those prepared by psychiatrists or psychologists, which can suggest which parent would be detrimental or in the child’s best interest to live with. Generally, if the child has a stable life, existing routine, and strong community and family support network, the court will be unlikely to change the child’s circumstances, as it’s in the best interest of the child to have a stable life and support network. In addition to all of these factors though, the judge can consider the child’s preference if they are mature enough to have one. The judge will determine how much weight to give the child’s preference based on their reasoning for it. For instance, a judge will likely give no weight to a child’s preference to live with their mother because their father makes them eat vegetables, whereas a judge would be likely to heavily weigh a child’s preference to live with one parent over the other because they feel safer or receive consistent help with their school work.
Talk to Peeples Law
The experienced Birmingham divorce lawyers at Peeples Law are ready to help you with all of your child custody needs. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.