Historically, 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:
- Whether or not the parents can reach an agreement regarding custody arrangements.
- If the parents are able to discuss the interests of the child amicably.
- The ability of the parents to support and nurture the child’s relationship with the other parent.
- Any abuse directed toward the child or other parent, either in the past or the potential for future abuse.
- 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.