Among the most complicated aspects of Alabama family law and divorce is determining child custody. Not only are there myriad factors at play, but it is often emotional with both parents concerned as to how the decision will be made and what will happen in its aftermath. While many cases result in sole custody in some form, other cases will end with joint custody. Having professional guidance can be helpful in all family law matters, especially those as sensitive as child custody.
Key points about joint custody
Parents who are agreeable to sharing custody should understand the factors that the court will assess when deciding if joint custody serves the child’s best interests. If the court finds that the child will be better served with sole legal custody, it will accord a parent the right to make all the decisions on the child’s behalf. That includes education, healthcare and religious upbringing. If it awards sole physical custody, one parent has custody of the child while the other will be granted visitation rights.
With joint legal custody, the parents make major decisions for the child in tandem. Joint physical custody means the parents will each have substantial time and contact with the child, but does not automatically mean the child will be with each parent on a 50-50 basis. The factors the court considers include whether the parents can agree on a joint custody arrangement; if the parents have a history of cooperation with each other and will put lingering acrimony aside; if they can share the child and encourage a positive relationship with the other parent; if there is a history of any kind of abuse; and the distance of the parents’ residences.
Complex custody cases generally require professional advice
Child custody and visitation in family law can stoke substantial discord. It is imperative to note that the court does not need consent from both parents to decide on joint custody. Both parents have the right to request joint custody, but the crucial aspect to anything the court does will be to ensure the child is properly cared for. Every case is different with its own unique challenges. Regardless of the type of custody the parents seek and whether the parents are on good terms or have trouble agreeing, it is wise to be protected with experienced assistance from the beginning to try and reach a positive result.