The following is a summary of Alabama child custody laws, and is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive description of what to expect in your particular case. In some cases, the exact text of the statute may have been simplified and/or modified to provide for easier understanding. For a more specific understanding of the laws, you should consult the full Alabama Code and/or consult with an attorney about how the law might apply to your particular situation.

Guidelines for Child Custody Under Alabama Laws.

Upon granting a divorce, the court may give the custody and education of the children of the marriage to either father or mother, as may seem right and proper, having regard to the moral character and prudence of the parents and the age and sex of the children; and pending the action, may make such orders in respect to the custody of the children as their safety and well-being may require. But in cases of abandonment of the husband by the wife, he shall have the custody of the children after they are seven years of age, if he is a suitable person to have such charge.

-From Section 30-3-1 of the Code of Alabama

Joint Custody.

It is the policy of the state of Alabama 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 and to encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of rearing their children after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.

The court shall in every case consider joint custody but may award any form of custody which is determined to be in the best interest of the child. In determining whether joint custody is in the best interest of the child, the court shall consider the same factors considered in awarding sole legal and physical custody and all of the following factors:

(1) The agreement or lack of agreement of the parents on joint custody.

(2) The past and present ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly.

(3) The ability of the parents to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent.

(4) Any history of or potential for child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping.

(5) The geographic proximity of the parents to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of joint physical custody.

The court may order a form of joint custody without the consent of both parents, when it is in the best interest of the child.

If both parents request joint custody, the presumption is that joint custody is in the best interest of the child. Joint custody shall be granted in the final order of the court unless the court makes specific findings as to why joint custody is not granted.

-From Sections 30-3-150 and 30-3-152 of the Code of Alabama

Definitions.

The state of Alabama has defined the following terms:

(1) JOINT CUSTODY. Joint legal custody and joint physical custody.

(2) JOINT LEGAL CUSTODY. Both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including, but not limited to, the education of the child, health care, and religious training. The court may designate one parent to have sole power to make certain decisions while both parents retain equal rights and responsibilities for other decisions.

(3) JOINT PHYSICAL CUSTODY. Physical custody is shared by the parents in a way that assures the child frequent and substantial contact with each parent. Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean physical custody of equal durations of time.

(4) SOLE LEGAL CUSTODY. One parent has sole rights and responsibilities to make major decisions concerning the child, including, but not limited to, the education of the child, health care, and religious training.

(5) SOLE PHYSICAL CUSTODY. One parent has sole physical custody and the other parent has rights of visitation except as otherwise provided by the court.

-From the Section 30-3-151 of the Code of Alabama

Availability of Records.

Unless otherwise prohibited by court order or statute, all records and information pertaining to the child, including, but not limited to, medical, physiological, dental, scholastic, athletic, extracurricular, and law enforcement, shall be equally available to both parents, in all types of custody arrangements.

-From Section 30-3-154 of the Code of Alabama

 

This information has been summarized from the Alabama statutes. You can find the full-text version of these and other Alabama divorce statutes online here: Alabama Divorce Laws.

LEARN MORE ABOUT GENERAL CHILD CUSTODY LAWS.

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IMPORTANT: Help Yourself Divorce is a paralegal service, not a law firm. Please don’t rely on this information for legal advice. Seek help from an attorney if you need legal advice.

 

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