How to Modify Child Custody in Alabama

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Child Custody Modifications in Alabama

When you are a co-parent, one of the most important things is to have a parenting plan that works well for everyone. You need to have a child custody plan in place that is manageable for both you and the other parent. It also needs to provide your child with stability and the right environments to grow and mature. Yet, a child custody order may not be the right arrangement for your family one, two, or five years down the road. Circumstances may change, not to mention, what your child needs can change drastically as they grow up. Because everyone’s lives evolve, courts recognize that child custody orders need to be modified from time to time.

Depending on your situation, you may file a petition in court for a modification of custody or your child’s other parent may do so. In either case, we recommend hiring an experienced Birmingham child custody lawyer to represent you. If you wish to change the custody and visitation schedule in place, you must go to court with evidence that circumstances have substantially changed and that altering the schedule is the best thing for your child. When the other parent wants a modification and you disagree, you need to prepare to prove that altering the current arrangement is too disruptive and detrimental to your child.

Our attorneys at Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC are highly experienced in child custody modification cases. Let us help you obtain the best possible arrangement for your family. Call us at (205) 255-1155 or use our online form to request a free consultation.

How a Child Custody Modification Lawyer Can Help

Whether you are the parent seeking a child custody modification or your child’s other parent is requesting a modification you disagree with, our family law attorneys at Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC are here to help. We will:

  • Explain the standard for modifying a child custody order in Alabama;
  • Analyze whether you are likely to obtain a modification OR the best way to defend against a modification request;
  • When necessary, gather and fill out the correct modification of custody forms (PS-07: Request to Change the Current Custody or Visitation Order);
  • Properly file the child custody modification forms OR respond to a modification request;
  • Represent you in court;
  • Vigorously argue for a modification of your current child custody schedule OR against a request modification; and
  • Fight for the best possible outcome for you and your children in a child custody modification case.

If you have any questions regarding the benefits of hiring a child custody lawyer for a modification case, contact us right away.

Grounds for Child Custody Modification in Alabama

The standard you or your child’s other parent must meet to modify child custody is based on an Alabama court case, Ex parte McLendon. It is sometimes called the “McLendon standards” or the “McLendon doctrine.” Grounds for child custody modifications are not found in an Alabama statute.

For a judge to approve a change in your current child custody order, you or the other parent must prove:

  • There has been a material or substantial change in circumstances affecting child custody;
  • Changing the custody order is in your child’s best interests; and
  • The benefits of altering the custody order outweigh the inherent disruption that results from the change.

This is a high hurdle. If you wish to change the child custody order, you should speak with an attorney first. If you go to the court to try and modify the custody agreement and you cannot establish the three elements above, you will have wasted your and court’s time. However, this high hurdle also works in your favor if your child’s other parent attempts to alter the current custody order for an insignificant reason.

Common Reasons for Modification of Custody

There are many reasons why you or your child’s other parent may ask the court to modify the current child custody schedule, including:

  • One parent moves further away from the parent or out of state.
  • A parent believes the child is neglected in the other parent’s custody.
  • The child’s needs and/or preferences have changed.
  • The child is in immediate danger due to domestic violence, drug use, or alcoholism in the other parent’s home.
  • The non-custodial parent is now better able to provide for their child.
  • A parent’s new job results in a different schedule.
  • A parent repeatedly chooses not to follow the current parenting plan.
  • The custodial parent passes away.

If you want to change your current child custody schedule, yet you are not sure your reason is a significant enough change in circumstances, then contact us at Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC.

The Best Interests of Your Child

If a judge determines the reason for you or the other parent’s modification request is substantial enough, the next step is for the judge to decide if changing the custody schedule is in the best interests of the child.

The court can look at numerous factors when deciding whether a change is the best thing for your child’s health, safety, and well-being, including:

  • Each parents’ home environment;
  • The nature and relationships of the parents and the people in their lives;
  • The parents’ ages;
  • The parents’ character, stability, and mental and physical health;
  • The parents’ relationships with each other and the child;
  • Any interference by either parent with the relationship between the other parent and child;
  • The child’s needs, age, and health; and
  • The wishes of the child, if relevant based on age and maturity.

The judge wants to establish a parenting plan that is the best possible arrangement for your child. That will be a custody schedule in which the child can thrive in a nurturing and loving environment while also maintaining close and healthy relationships with both parents.

Many child custody modifications brought by the non-custodial parent result in them gaining more visitation or physical custody, while the custodial parent receives less time with the child. If the changes are substantial enough though, the judge may change who the custodial guardian is.

At Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC, we have handled cases involving changing custody from a mother to a father. This is a significant disruption to a child, however, there are many times when a father is better able to provide the child and offer a safe, stable, and loving home. If you are a dad and you believe it is time you gained a greater amount of physical custody or you want full custody of your child, call us right away.

Changes in Child Custody May Impact Child Support

If your child custody arrangement changes significantly, you should speak with an attorney about the current child support order. If you pay child support, but your amount of physical custody has increased, you may need to ask a court to decrease your obligation, though this is not guaranteed. When your time with your child decreased and you already paid support, your child’s other parent may ask for an increase in your obligation. If you went from being the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent, then you may be owed support instead. You should absolutely speak with a lawyer about returning to court and altering the child support order.

Let a Child Custody Lawyer at Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC Help You

If you are a co-parent and you believe it is time for the parenting plan to change, contact Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC online or give us at a call at (205) 255-1155. If the other parent agrees to make some changes, we can represent you in negotiating these changes outside of court or through mediation. If the other parent is no cooperative, we can prepare to ask a court to order a child custody modification.

Whatever your current circumstances or your relationship with your co-parent, we are here to help. We will guide you through this process and assist you in seeking the best possible arrangement for your child.

Types of Child Custody Cases We Handle

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