When parents divorce, they need to decide how to continue their relationships with their children. Where will the children live? How often will each parent see them? Every day, parents make important decisions for their child. This includes choosing their schools, daycare, and doctors. In a child custody case, these choices become even more crucial.
Tackling these questions is a big task, and your child’s well-being depends on it. At Leigh Daniel Family Law, our Huntsville child custody attorneys are experienced and skilled in:
- Negotiating an acceptable child custody agreement informally or through mediation.
- Arguing for a fair child custody arrangement before a judge.
- Pursuing modifications to child custody agreements for parents when circumstances change.
Arguing over what’s best for your children can be an extremely draining experience. Our attorneys are supportive and understand the stress you’re under. We’re here to help reduce that stress and keep you focused on the best outcome.
Concerned about your legal situation or feeling burdened by a child custody case? Reach out to our experienced Huntsville child custody attorneys now. We have more than 20 years of experience fighting for families throughout Northern Alabama. Call us now for a child custody consultation: (256) 551-0500!
Huntsville Child Custody Attorneys On Your Side at Every Step
In Alabama, child custody agreements must be made with the goal of meeting “the best interests of the child.” For example, courts do not automatically grant custody to mothers or take it away from a spouse who has been unfaithful, unless additional evidence is presented to show that the custody agreement is best for the child.
To decide whether a custody agreement is in the “best interests of the child,” Alabama courts consider several factors. These include:
- The children’s ages and health.
- Each child’s current state of emotional development.
- Which parent has been their primary caregiver.
- How well each parent has cared for the children.
- The relationship the children have with each parent and each parent’s family.
- Where they might live and go to school.
- Which parent takes care of things such as teacher conferences and doctor’s visits.
- The willingness of each parent to work with the other and to do what is best for the children.
- The children’s preferences, if the children are old enough to voice an opinion.
How to Resolve Child Custody Issues
Divorcing parents in Alabama are not required to go in front of a judge to have their child custody agreements determined.
Instead, the typical steps for resolving child custody issues include:
- Parents can work together through informal negotiations to decide on a child custody agreement. As long as the parents and their lawyers can demonstrate that the agreed-upon plan is in the children’s best interests, the court is likely to approve it.
- Many parents seeking to create a custody plan agree to participate in mediation. During the mediation process, you and your child’s other parent sit down with your respective lawyers and a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator’s role is to help both sides reach “common ground,” but the mediator may not force either side to agree to a particular decision.
- If mediation fails, the parties are free to try again or try another form of alternative dispute resolution or negotiation. It’s important to note that many “sticking points” can be successfully worked out in mediation, and the process is often less expensive than a trial.
- If the parents cannot hammer out a child custody agreement, the court will create one.
If you and your spouse are having trouble agreeing on a custody plan, the first step is to talk to one of our experienced Huntsville child custody lawyers. Our compassionate and creative legal team will work with you to find ways to negotiate the “trouble spots” and try to create a suitable plan.
Contact us today to discuss what might be holding up your child custody case and how we can help you push through it.
Understanding What is Custody and Support
Under Alabama child custody law, joint custody is considered to be in the child’s best interests, unless specific evidence is presented to demonstrate that it is not. Therefore, courts encourage parents to find ways to share custody.
When joint physical and legal custody is shared equally, or nearly equally: The parents may not need to address issues of child support. Because equally shared joint custody often means that both parents contribute equally to the costs of the child’s needs, no support payments are necessary.
When a child custody arrangement is “lopsided”: It is more likely that the parent who spends less time with the child will need to contribute to the child’s well-being in a financial way, by paying child support. In Alabama, child support is calculated according to a formula that considers factors such as both parent’s gross monthly income (before taxes), costs of childcare and medical insurance, and whether either parent is already paying child support for other children or alimony to a previous spouse.
How to Navigate Child Custody Modifications in Alabama
Children grow up quickly, and circumstances can change over the years. Alabama child custody laws allow parents to seek a modification of child custody or support agreement when it is necessary to continue meeting the child’s best interests.
To seek a change in a custody or visitation order:
- The best way to approach a change is to try to work out a new agreement with your child’s other parent before filing the necessary paperwork. The court is more likely to make the change if both parents agree and the change does not harm the child’s interests.
- If you and the other parent cannot agree on a change, you will need to have a strong argument for modification.
Our experienced Huntsville child custody modification lawyers can help you build a solid case as to why the change in custody and visitation is necessary and is in the best interests of your children. We will also ensure the proper paperwork is filed to keep your child custody case moving forward in the courts.
Five Tips to Build a Solid Child Custody Case
- Have reasons to support why you are the better option for custody of the child. The court’s standard in initial custody determination is the best interest of the child. Giving the court concrete examples of why you are the best parent is far better than a blanket statement like “I should win custody because I’m their mom.”
- You should be knowledgeable about your children’s medical care providers, educational pursuits, and any extracurricular activities that they participate in. You should be able to speak confidently about any aspect of your children’s lives.
- “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I believe showing the court the relationship through pictures is valuable. Also, having pictures of the home where you intend to parent the children can also be helpful.
- If there are any complaints about your caretaking from the opposing party, have explanations or rebuttals. Have as much proof to prove your argument as you can obtain.
- Have relevant witnesses ready to testify about your caretaking abilities. Some examples would be grandparents, teachers, coaches, friends of the family, and relatives.
Choosing a Child Custody Attorney in Huntsville You Can Count on
We understand that your children are the most important thing in your life. That’s why we will fight so hard for your rights to custody. Even in the most frustrating situations, our dedicated Huntsville child custody lawyers will push forward with smart strategies to keep your case on track. After all, our goal is to keep you focused on the positive outcome you want for your case and your family.
If you are facing a complicated child custody battle, contact us today to find out how our skilled and compassionate team will fight to protect the rights of you and your children. Call now for a consultation: (256) 551-0500!
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