Men in Alabama divorces who are not properly represented can get bad deals when it comes to contested child custody and child support, as well as alimony and property division.
The compassionate divorce lawyers at Leigh Daniel Family Law in Huntsville, Alabama, provide experienced legal representation to fathers seeking custody of their children and other paternal rights. Don’t let a difficult divorce keep you from having a proper relationship with your children and a financially stable life after a divorce in North Alabama.
Sometimes, men headed for divorce don’t foresee the emotional and financial impact the end of their marriage will have on them. Our divorce lawyers can help you make well-founded decisions with your family’s interests in mind and avoid accepting arrangements that you will regret later. We know how Alabama divorce law applies to the breakup of families. Our Huntsville father’s rights attorneys have extensive experience with family law matters and helping our male clients achieve outcomes that ensure stability amid the dissolution of their marriages.
The divorce attorneys at Leigh Daniel Family Law have more than two decades of combined experience helping clients in the greater Huntsville, AL area seek a brighter future. Our divorce attorneys handle family law matters related to paternity rights, custody issues, and other issues in divorce. Contact Leigh Daniel and her knowledgeable associates by phone or by filling out a contact form online to schedule a confidential consultation.
Paternal Rights and Custody in Alabama Family Law
Alabama divorce law is gender-neutral. It presumes both parents are equally capable of caring for their children after a divorce and fulfilling their duties and responsibilities as parents.
Either parent may seek physical custody of their children, legal custody, or both and should expect a fair hearing of their petition as part of the divorce process. When weighing custody petitions, the court is to be guided by what is in the best interests of the child.
Physical custody refers to the child’s living arrangements and which parent the child will primarily reside with. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about a child’s upbringing, school attendance, religious instruction, and medical care.
Joint custody is presumed to be the best custodial arrangement for children after a divorce unless either party presents evidence to the contrary. Joint custody does not necessarily mean equal physical custody, but it would suggest regular visitation for the noncustodial parent.
Joint custody often means that parents spend roughly equal amounts of time with the child, so they contribute more or less equally to the child’s expenses. When one parent has full custody, the other parent will typically be required to contribute to the child’s well-being through support payments.
In Alabama, child support is calculated according to a formula that considers factors such as each parent’s gross monthly income before taxes, costs of childcare and medical insurance, and whether either parent is already paying support for another child or alimony to a previous spouse.
The Huntsville divorce lawyers at Leigh Daniel Family Law will represent you in settlement negotiations to seek a fair arrangement with your spouse that serves the best interest of the child. Our divorce attorneys will be sure the judge has an accurate picture of your and your estranged spouse’s circumstances.
Establishing Paternity in an Alabama Divorce
If a man in Alabama needs to establish parental rights as part of a contested divorce, our family law firm can help. Alabama law set forth several ways to establish paternity or legal fatherhood:
- Your paternity is assumed if you and your spouse were married when your child was born, or your child was born within 300 days of the end of your marriage.
- Acknowledged paternity. You are assumed to be the child’s father if the child was born before you and the mother were married, but you:
- Signed an acknowledgment of paternity
- Agreed to be named on the birth certificate
- Have been required to pay child support.
Acting like a father. If you have publicly assumed the role of the child’s father, you are presumed to be the legal father. This means you have:
- Welcomed the minor-age child into your home
- Openly represented yourself as the child’s father
- Established a close relationship with the child
- Supported the child emotionally and financially.
Alabama Paternity Rights for Unmarried Fathers
If you have not married your child’s mother and do not intend to, you can still establish your paternity and the right to be a part of your child’s life and future, but it is a more complex process.
When both parents want to acknowledge the biological father’s paternity rights and responsibilities, they can complete an Affidavit of Paternity. Once properly executed and filed, the affidavit legally recognizes the biological father as the child’s legal parent with the rights and responsibilities related to child custody, visitation, and support.
If you and your child’s mother are not in agreement, you may file a Petition to Establish Paternity, which asks the court to order genetic testing. Though the petition form is written as if the mother is seeking a paternity ruling, the person identified as the father or who believes he is the father may file such a petition.
With paternity established, the family law court can make decisions about child custody, visitation, and support, by adopting parenting plans agreed to by both parents or by settling a contested petition for paternal rights.
Our Family Law Attorneys Help Men with Divorce and Paternity Matters
We agree with the legal principle that, in most cases, children will generally benefit from having both parents in their lives. If you are the father of an underage child in Huntsville, Alabama, and you are being forced out of your child’s life by divorce or lack of established paternity, a father’s rights attorney with Leigh Daniel Family Law can help. Our experienced family law attorneys can help establish your rights as a father and fight for appropriate custody arrangements.
For more than 20 years, the Huntsville divorce lawyers at Leigh Daniel Family Law have helped men throughout the greater Huntsville area deal with family law issues related to separation, divorce, property division, alimony, and child custody. Call today to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced divorce attorney or fill out a contact form online. We can review your legal options and offer sound advice during this difficult time.