According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2009, there were approximately 37,000 marriages and 20,000 divorces in the State of Alabama. While the number of divorces is alarming, divorce has become a daily reality. A divorce can be stressful, sad, hurtful and embarrassing but the most disconcerting facet of a divorce is the fight over custody of minor children. This article briefly describes the factors opined on by the courts in Mobile and Baldwin County, Alabama when granting child custody orders.
The best interests and welfare of a child is the fundamental factor considered by courts in Mobile and Baldwin County, Alabama when awarding custody. In establishing what is in the best interests of a child, regard is given to factors including whether the parents are living, fit and competent, wishes of the parents, wishes of the child, the child’s relationship with each of the parents, siblings and any other person who has a significant impact on the best interests of the child, and the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community.
The courts in Mobile and Baldwin County, Alabama also consider whether one parent has a history of being the primary caregiver of the child, the capability of the parents in jointly making decisions that are in the best interests of the child, the distance between each of the parent’s residence after the divorce is finalized, and the ability of each parent to foster love and respect in the child for the other parent. A parent’s misconduct in relation to the divorce action or non-marital relationships is only relevant to the extent that it is detrimental to the best interests of the child.
In their adjudication of custody issues, courts in Mobile and Baldwin County, Alabama are encouraged to grant orders of joint custody. Joint custody generally comprises of joint physical custody and/or joint legal custody. Under joint physical custody, the child spends a significant amount of time with both parents. For instance, the child might reside with one parent for part of a week and reside with the other parent for the rest of the week. Joint legal custody pertains to shared decision making ability of each parent on behalf of the child. In other words, each parent is entitled to share in making major decisions for the child including, education, religion, and non-emergency medical treatment.
Based on their consideration of the factors listed above, courts in Mobile and Baldwin County, Alabama can deviate from the state policy of awarding joint custody. Orders that grant one parent with sole legal custody provide that parent with the exclusive right to make major decisions with respect to the child. Whereas sole physical custody orders require the child to physically reside with one parent but provide the other non-custodial parent with reasonable rights of visitation.
Please note that this material does not go into specific details and is only meant to provide general information on the topic of child custody. For more information, please contact our divorce attorney, Drew Wenzel, at (251) 948-2168 or firstname.lastname@example.org.