Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
- Physical custody - This relates to how a child spends their time between parents, including their primary place of residence and their visitation schedule with the non-custodial parent.
- Legal custody - This relates to major decision-making rights and responsibilities that affect the child’s life.
Court orders can differ between physical and legal custody. Each type of child custody can be joint or sole, depending on the family’s situation.
What is Joint Custody in Alabama
Joint custody in Alabama refers to a child's shared physical and/or legal custody after the parents separate or divorce. In such cases, parents share the daily responsibilities of raising the child(ren), including financial obligations.
Most divorce laws in Alabama grant the parties “joint legal custody,” with one parent having “primary physical custody.” This means that the children primarily live with one parent. Still, both parents have equal authority regarding decisions involving the children.
The parties can agree, or the court can designate one parent to have sole authority over certain decisions and the other parent to have sole power over other decisions.
Alabama officially favors joint custody (but not equal physical custody). The state’s policy is to assure that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of their children.
What Does Joint Legal Custody Mean in Alabama?
In joint legal custody, both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions regarding the child. The parties can agree, or the court can designate one parent to have sole authority over certain decisions and the other parent to have sole power over other decisions. Even if a parent has sole custody of a specific matter, they should still communicate with their former spouse.
Major decision-making areas include:
- Civic, cultural, and athletic activities
What is Sole Custody in Alabama
Sole custody in Alabama is when one parent has sole authority to act on behalf of the child without consulting the other parent. Sole custody is disfavored in Alabama unless sole custody is in the children’s best interest.
Sole legal custody is when just one parent makes all the decisions about the child, including religion, health, extracurricular activities, and education. Sole physical custody means one parent has physical custody of the children, and the other sees the children by visitation.
Alabama law states that the court may give custody to either the father or mother as the court deems suitable and proper after consideration of the moral character and prudence of the parents, as well as the age and sex of the children.
Alabama Family Law Protects a Child’s Best Interests
Under the state’s family law, a judge prioritizes the child’s best interests when determining physical and legal custody. Alabama’s policy strives to allow children to have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown an ability to act in the best interest of their children. A judge encourages parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of raising their children after separation or divorce.
The state law requires the court in every custody case to consider joint custody, but the court may award any form of custody they determine serves the child's best interest. A judge may grant sole physical and/or legal custody to support the child’s well-being in cases with a history of domestic violence, abuse, neglect, or criminal activity.
Benefits of Hiring a Reputable Child Custody Attorney
Working with an experienced child custody attorney can make a positive difference during your divorce proceedings or if you consider petitioning for modifications to a court order post-divorce. A family law attorney can help ensure the legal process protect your individual and parental rights. If you have questions regarding custody or are involved in litigation regarding the custody of a child, you should seek advice from a licensed attorney in your state.
Are you seeking a compassionate child custody attorney in Huntsville or surrounding areas? Contact Rebekah L. Graham & Associates today at (256) 792-6075 to schedule a consultation.
This blog is made available for educational purposes only to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the attorneys at Rebekah L. Graham & Associates. The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.