Child Custody Lawyers in Birmingham, AL

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At Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC, we understand that you may be dealing with child custody issues in Birmingham for the first time. Or, you may be revisiting a child custody battle. Whether this is your first foray into determining a child custody arrangement, or you have questions about a child custody modification or relocation, do not hesitate to contact an Alabama child custody lawyer. Our divorce and family law attorneys are here to explain your rights and guide you through seeking the best arrangement for your family.

Child-Custody determinations are often the most contentious matters in any Alabama Divorce or Family Law matter.  We encourage you to review our site and the numerous resources we have placed at your disposal to gather as much information as possible.  But it is imperative that you contact the experienced and award-winning attorneys at Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC to best protect your rights and those of your children in any matter regarding custody. Time is almost assuredly of the essence in child-custody matters. 

To request a free initial consultation regarding Alabama child custody laws and visitation, contact us online or call (205) 255-1155.

Alabama Child Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents

Alabama’s child custody laws focus on what is best for a child whether that child’s parents are divorcing or were never married. Your rights and responsibilities to your child are not dependent on you being married to the child’s other parent. However, there are differences in a child custody situation for divorcing versus unmarried parents.

When a child is born during a marriage, the law presumes the two parents are the child’s biological and legal parents. When you are married to your child’s other parent, there is rarely an issue of paternity, unless that issue is raised by you or the other parent. If you and your child’s other parent were unmarried at the time, then Alabama law requires you to establish paternity.

Whether you are married, divorcing, or unmarried, feel free to call a child custody attorney at Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC for legal advice. We can advise you on how to establish paternity for your child, no matter your marital situation.

Establishing Paternity in Alabama

The simplest way to establish paternity in Alabama is for you and the child’s other parent to voluntarily sign a form of acknowledgment of paternity. Once you both sign this form and it is properly filed, then the father’s name can be placed on the birth certificate.

You and your child’s other parent can voluntarily and privately go through genetic testing first. If you and the other parent privately establish a DNA connection, you can then sign an acknowledgment form and the father’s name can be added to the birth certificate.

Or, you may go through an administrative procedure with the Alabama Department of Human Resources to have a genetic test performed. If you go through the administrative process to conduct a DNA test, you or the other parent must file a Petition to Establish Paternity with the court and obtain an Alabama court order to establish paternity. Only then can the father’s name be added to the birth certificate.

If paternity is contested, then the action may need to go through court. Either parent can file an action in court to require a DNA test. A mother can file an action to have a putative father submit to a DNA test or a putative father can file for a DNA test to prove or disprove paternity.

If you need to establish your child’s paternity or you need to prove you are not a child’s father, call our custody lawyers in Birmingham, Alabama right away.

Types of Custody Arrangements

There are a few types of child custody that may work for your family. Alabama focuses on temporary custody, physical custody, and legal custody. Custody that works for you now may not be beneficial to you or your children at some time in the future. It is possible to modify your child custody arrangement from any of these forms to another.

Temporary Custody

In many situations, a temporary custody order is needed while parents or the court decide on the best long-term arrangement for a child. A temporary child custody order may be put in place during a divorce or immediately following a child’s birth to unmarried parents. This order may be in place for weeks or months until the court decides, or you and your child’s other parent come to a voluntary agreement regarding permanent child custody.  

Permanent Custody

If a child custody order is not intended to be temporary, then it is essentially permanent. An Alabama court’s child custody order remains in place until a court alters the order in the future, which is likely to occur at some point. Your child’s needs will change, your and the other parent’s circumstances may change, all of which could require you and the other parent to pursue a new arrangement. To discuss obtaining a temporary or permanent child custody order in Alabama, call a custody attorney from Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC.

Legal Custody

Legal custody encompasses a parent’s right to make important decisions for their child, including in regard to a child’s education, medical care, and religion. If one parent has sole legal custody, then that parent is entitled to make all the child’s major decisions. Many divorced or unmarried couples share legal custody and must make these big decisions together. If you and your child’s other parent do not agree on issues managed by legal custody, you may have to seek court intervention. A child custody lawyer can help you with this endeavor.

Physical Custody

Physical custody relates to which parent has the right to have the child with them, at their home, and control the child’s daily activities. Like legal custody, physical custody can remain entirely or predominantly with one parent or it can be shared between two parents. This is one of the most contentious issues in child custody. It’s best to work with a child custody lawyer to establish a physical custody agreement or to seek a court order.

Joint Custody (Joint Legal Custody v. Joint Physical Custody)

Under Alabama Code Section 30-3-152, the court must always consider joint custody. Alabama law strongly encourages parents to share legal and physical custody of the child, since it is often in the child’s best interests to have access to both parents. However, a judge will closely examine what is in the child’s best interests, which may not include joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or either. If you and the child’s other parent have a history of not being able to communicate or cooperate, then one of you may be provided sole legal or physical custody – or both.

Sole Custody

Sole custody can refer to physical custody, legal custody, or both. When a parent has sole physical custody of a child, then the child lives with that parent full time. That parent may also be called the custodial parent. The other parent may have visitation, during which the child sees them for brief periods of time, and they may or may not spend nights at their home. A parent may also have joint physical custody yet have sole legal custody. The child may divide their time between parents, yet one parent remains in charge of the major decisions.

Visitation

Visitation refers to the non-custodial parent’s time with the child. When one parent has sole physical custody and the child lives with them, the child’s time with the other parent is known as visitation. If you have questions regarding custody and visitation, call a custody attorney in Birmingham, AL for answers.

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Custody Decisions Without Court Intervention

As the child’s parents, you have the right to decide on child custody and visitation yourselves. You two may agree on what is best for your child and establish this arrangement outside of court. Or, if one of you filed a petition for child custody, you can still come to an agreement yourselves and submit it to the court for approval. You may also choose or be required by the court to go through family mediation. During mediation, you and the child’s other parent sit down and talk with the help of a neutral mediator who can help you reach a compromise.

Determining Custody Through the Best Interests of the Child

If you and the other parent cannot come to an agreement, then the court will decide what is in your child’s best interests. Under Ala. Code Section 30-3-1, the court has the power to give either parent custody based on each parent’s moral character and prudence and the child’s age and sex.

The legal standard of “best interests of a child” involves myriad factors, which is why it is defined in Alabama on a case-by-case basis. As experienced child custody lawyers, we cannot guarantee what all the court will look at or put the most weight on in deciding your child custody arrangement. However, we can explain numerous factors the court will review, including:

The court may also take into consideration expert opinions or the recommendation of a guardian ad litem before making custody determinations.

Child Custody Modifications in Birmingham

Child custody arrangements do not work forever. There are many reasons why a custody arrangement established when a child was born or a young age would need to change as the child gets older. However, to modify your child custody order, you must file a petition in court. You must also prove there has been a material change in circumstances. This means that there has been more than a small or subtle shift in your child, your, or the other parent’s situations. There must be a big enough change that altering the child custody arrangement promotes your child’s best interests and the benefit to your child outweighs the disruption

Relocating a Child

Relocating a child a significant distance, which may include moving the child to or out of Alabama, can be a contentious issue. When one parent wants to move far away and take the child with them, it is natural for the other parent to disagree and fight back. Whether you or the other parent wishes to move, you should know that issue is controlled by the Alabama Relocation Act and it is best to hire a child custody lawyer.

When you or the other parent wishes to move more than 60 miles, that parent must provide notice to the other parent within 45 days of the move or 10 days after learning of the move, if later. This notice should include the parent’s contact information, the new address, the reason for the move, the date of the intended move, the child’s new school, and a proposed schedule for child custody or visitation. If you receive such a notice, you have 30 days to object.

If an objection to a relocation is filed in court, the judge may order that the move not take place until a full hearing is conducted. A judge will use the best interests of the child standard in determining whether the child should be relocated. Alabama courts presume that a move is not in the best interest of a younger child due to the disruption in the child’s stability. The parent who wishes to move the child must overcome that presumption with evidence that the move is in the child’s best interests. If the parent can do so, then the objecting parent must try to prove that the child would benefit from remaining in their current location.

Termination of Parental Rights

In Birmingham, the termination of a parent’s parental rights can be either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary termination is typically related to the adoption process. One or both parents may give up their parental rights so that another individual or couple can adopt the child. Also, there are times when a non-custodial parent gives up their rights because it is best for the child.

Involuntary termination of parental rights can occur if a parent has abandoned, abused, or neglected a child. As a parent, you can also lose your parental rights due to criminal activity, alcohol or drug dependence, or an inability to care for your child based on your mental, emotional, and physical capabilities.

If you are facing a petition for termination of your parental rights or you wish to have your child’s other parent’s rights terminated, call a child custody attorney from Birmingham, AL.

Let the Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC Help You

If you are involved in a child custody battle, whether this is a new or recurring issue, we are here to help. We are highly experienced in Birmingham family law matters, and we can guide you through making child-custody decisions with the other parent or fighting for your rights in court.

You may refer to our discussion forum, which has a plethora of information about a number of topics. This forum allows you to ask questions and get answers from professionals and our legal experts. You can also have a discussion about your situation with others who may be facing similar circumstances. We suggest that you do not discuss specific identifying details of your case, but rather consider general topics and ideas.

You may also seek assistance from our self-help portal, where you can find forms and purchase attorney advice on specific situations. The portal will give you a space where you can deal with your case in a pressure-free environment on your own time and is a great low-cost alternative to traditional and sometimes costly child-custody matters. Don’t worry, our experienced and experienced lawyers will be with you through the entire process.

Contact us through our online form or call (205) 255-1155 to schedule a free, confidential consultation. Our attorneys have handled thousands of cases successfully, won prestigious awards voted upon by our peers in the profession, and are devoted to winning your child-custody matter.  Our lawyers are dads too, and we fight like we would if we were involved in a child-custody issue.