Call Today: (205) 623-1001
Birmingham Divorce Firm

Divorce, child custody, child support, alimony support, visitation issues, and adoption are what we do! Put our professional staff to work for you today. Call (205) 623-1001.

Category: Visitation

Supreme Court Rules Same Sex Couples Share Parental Rights to Children Born During Their Union

On March 7th, the Supreme Court of the United States rsame sex mother rightseversed the decision of the Alabama Supreme Court in the case of VL v EL. VL and EL are two women who, during the course of their long-term relationship, bore three children through donor insemination. In this case, VL, the non-biological mother was granted an adoption in Georgia. The couple later split, and VL sought visitation from EL. EL, now residing in Alabama, denied VL visitation on the grounds that the adoption was not valid in Alabama.

On September 18, 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled against visitation, stating that the adoption performed in Georgia in 2007 was considered void in Alabama. This judgment broke a long-standing precedent that judgments entered into in other states would remain valid. The Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution requires states to honor judgments made in other states. The case had formerly been heard in trial court and twice in the Court of Civil Appeals.

On November 16, 2015, VL asked the Supreme Court of the United States to consider this case, given that no other state had ever before refused to honor a same-sex adoption granted in another state. In December, the Supreme Court ordered that VL be granted temporary visitation rights and that the judgment of the Alabama Supreme Court be suspended.

On March 7th, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously that the Georgia adoption was legal and that VL bears full adoptive rights. This marks a major ruling and a victory for the rights of LGBT individuals and couples throughout the United States. This ruling protects the rights of same-sex parents, even after those parents relocate to a different state that may have different laws.

As families in the United States become more diverse, it is important that parents’ rights- whether same-sex or not- be protected by the law. If you believe your parental rights are being infringed upon, or you are being bullied out of your parental role, contact an experienced Alabama family law attorney. A parents’ rights are to be cherished and protected, not manipulated and sullied. Contact the Zwiebel Law Firm, LLC today online or at 205-623-1001 for a consultation.

Can a Father Get Custody in Alabama?

road-995343_640Historically, Alabama courts have strongly favored awarding custody of children to the mother. More recently, however, family situations have changed and evolved, and many men have taken on the role of primary caretaker.

Now, family law judges try to promote joint custody plans, with the children spending roughly the same amount of time with each parent. The Alabama Joint Custody Statute indicates the intention of the state to support the rights of both parents to ongoing contact and childrearing. Further, numerous studies have shown that children do best when both parents play an active role in childrearing. In some cases, however, it may be more appropriate to award sole custody to either the mother or the father. A family law attorney can help you understand your rights as a parent, and guide you through this challenging process.


The court attempts to award joint custody whenever appropriate, but considers a number of factors, including:

  1. Whether or not the parents can reach an agreement regarding custody arrangements.
  2. If the parents are able to discuss the interests of the child amicably.
  3. The ability of the parents to support and nurture the child’s relationship with the other parent.
  4. Any abuse directed toward the child or other parent, either in the past or the potential for future abuse.
  5. If traveling from one household to another regularly is a practical option.

In determining custody, the judge also considers the safety of the child; the age and gender of the child; the ability and desire of each parent to provide for the child’s physical, social, moral, and educational needs; the age, health, and character of each parent; the willingness of each parent to adhere to agreements with regards to parenting; the child’s preference and relationship with each parent; the environment of the homes; any expert testimony; and the effects of the custody arrangement on the child. Your family law attorney can help you present yourself and your situation positively before the judge.

How can I present myself in a positive light?

  • Provide Stability – Judges love to see a stable environment. It is important to have a stable job and provide a regular, healthy routine for the child. That means providing regular, nutritious meals, getting the child to school on time, providing a set bedtime, maintaining regular dental and medical check-ups, and encouraging extra-curricular activities.
  • Bonding Activities – Instead of hiring a babysitter, arrange to spend the time you have with your child in a positive manner. Go to the zoo or a museum, read books together, go to the park, or join a baseball team.
  • Remain Calm – Custody disputes can be emotionally taxing, and you may hold anger or resentment towards the mother of your child. It is important, however, to maintain a calm, cool demeanor. You want to project that you truly want to promote positive and happiness in the environment.
  • Encourage Family Stability – Children thrive when they have relationships with both parents. Even if you believe the mother should not have custody, support your child’s relationship with her. Do not ever speak negatively about the other parent in front of your child.

Remember, the court wants the same thing you do – for your child to thrive in a healthy, happy environment. If you are struggling to gain custody of your child, contact us online or at (205) 623-1001.


Although grandparents do not have rights to enforce visitation with their grandchildren.  There are a few limited ways that a grandparent may help save a grandchild who is being abused, neglected or forced to live in unsafe conditions.  In Birmingham, Alabama there is a family court that will assist a willing grandparent make sure their grandchild is not being subjected to abuse, neglect or unsafe conditions.  A grandparent may file a juvenile dependency action and gain custody of their grandchild if these conditions exist.  Dependency actions are simply a case that is filed that says that the parents are unable or unwilling to provide the care sufficient to make sure their child is not abused or neglected in some way.  This week my firm was able to gain custody of grandchildren for two sets of grandparents.  These cases are those that are difficult with emotion but are satisfying when a child is saved from an unsafe condition by a loving grandparent.  The family court of Jefferson County will jump into action if a grandparent presents a case of emergency relief where they can show their grandchild is in an unsafe environment.  Most important to understand is that a family law attorney who regularly deals with these court can make the case move at a quicker pace.  Literally this week grandparents came in with stories of their grandchild in an unsafe drug infested environment and within an hour we had them a pick up order to get their grandchild into their care.  Family Court can be confusing and it may be difficult to understand the procedures that is why it is vital that whoever a client hires for this work is well versed in the procedures of family court.  Having a good relationship with the court is often times only achieved by those attorneys who regularly work in this area.  Dependency petitions often take a while to get pushed through the courthouse but with the help of one of our attorneys, a client may breeze through at a much faster pace.  Also, the filing of a private petition meaning a filing a grandparent does with an attorney can be a much faster process than dealing with DHR.  If you are experiencing issues with the care of your grandchildren and act quickly before DHR becomes involved, you could file your own petition and get custody of your grandchild quickly.  This eases the child into a transition quickly instead of dealing with DHR several court hearings.  This is the most common way that grandparents can establish rights to have custody of their grandchildren.  There are other ways such as a family adoption which can be costly but also very effective.  If you need help getting your grandchild into a safe environment, do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced attorneys at (205) 623-1001 and look at our other information on our website

More information can be found at



Stopping visitation for the safety, health and mental wellbeing of the children.

child-custodyWhen your children are put at risk during the non-custodial periods of visitation, there are ways to protect them and yourself for denying them visitation.  Courts will temporarily suspend visitation out of an abundance of caution based on the parent's assertions that the health, safety and mental well being of the child is at risk.  If the non-custodial parent is also not protecting the children during their times of custody, it can be suspended until they learn the appropriate measures to take to do so.  Typically when visitation is suspended or terminated, a parent will spring into action to correct the offending behaviors.  They typically will counter sue for contempt and custody but those are mere threats when a child's real safety is of concern.  

A new case from the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals deals with just that scenario.  In Davis v. Blackstock, the court decided that in determining the non-custodial parent's credibility with regard to their suit for custody following a modification of custody case, the fact that they failed to provide the child's basic needs was called into question.  In that case, the non-custodial parent failed to provide financial support and for the child's basic food and shelter needs by failing to pay their child support.  Then the non-custodial parent filed a case for custody which was denied. It goes back to the basic principal that that parent had "unclean hands" and would be denied their request due to that fact.  

It shows that the court can determine a parent's credibility when asking for custody based on their prior actions in supporting the child.  These cases are forever coming up over and over again.  One parent wishes to protect their child from harm while in the other parent's psychical care and then that parent files for custody because they are denied visitation.  If you understand the "poker" faces that come about during these cases, you will understand that it may be a "knee jerk" reaction to file a counterclaim for custody immediately after visitation has been suspended.

The new case affirms the fact that if you are going to ask the court for relief, you better have clean hands during the time you are asking.  Remedies for those parents with "unclean hands" is difficult to obtain since it is an old standard the courts still apply.  We have great resources on our site at

If you are a parent who needs to protect your child from harm or have safety concerns when they are with the non-custodial parent, seek legal help today.  There are tools we can use to make that happen.  We can provide you with protections that will be needed once you deny the other parent visitation due to your safety concerns.  Call us today (205) 623-1001.  More information can be found at

Handling kids during a divorce.

child-custodyGreat article on how to handle kids during a divorce.

Contact Us

Local Lawyers Alabama
Local Lawyers Birmingham

Lead Counsel Rated Attorney

The Lead Counsel Advantage

  • Professional Experience
  • Peer Recommended
  • Spotless Record

Contact Us

The Zwiebel Law Firm, LLC

826 Columbiana Road
Birmingham, AL 35209

Phone: (205) 623-1001
Fax: (205) 874-9481

Location Map

Our Firm

The attorneys and staff at The Zwiebel Law Firm look forward to finding resolution to each client’s case. We anticipate every step and keep our client’s informed of expectations.

Learn More

Follow Us On