divorced parents raising children

Managing Child Rearing and Divorced Parents

It is not the way you envisioned your marriage but sometimes they do end in divorce. Alabama’s divorce rate is higher than most of the rest of the nation. According to data from the Census Bureau, Alabama ranks 16th in the country with a 12.3% divorce rate.

And while dividing your lives and property is one thing, how to raise your children is quite another.  If you disagree on anything it should not be the children.

In Alabama, a divorce is a civil action. The party who files is the plaintiff and the other party is the defendant. At least one of the parties must have lived in Alabama for at least six months.

Alabama law specifies you can ask for a fault or a no-fault divorce. The latter means there are no grounds stated for the divorce but the marriage is irretrievably broken.  

Alabama recognizes legal separation and you can file for alimony and child support plus property division as part of a legal separation lawsuit.

Any divorce will mean new schedules will have to be put into place and adhered to in order to promote a continuing relationship with both parents and to create the least disruption to that child’s life.

Alabama Child Rearing and Divorce

Under Alabama child custody law, Section 30-3-150, parents should have frequent and continuing contact with their children and should act in the best interest of their children. Parents are also encouraged to share in the rights and responsibilities of rearing children.

Under Alabama law, custody can be given to either mother or father or whoever the court determines will act in the best interest of the children.

Factors to determine custody include:

  • Age and sex of the child
  • The emotional, social, moral, and educational needs of the child or children
  • The home environments offered by either party
  • The characteristics of each parent including their age, health, physical, and mental stability
  • The capacity of each parent to provide for the needs of the children
  • The relationship between the child and parent
  • The interpersonal relationship between the children
  • The parent the child prefers to live with
  • A report by a witness or independent investigator

Under Alabama law, adultery can be considered as one factor for the court to use to determine child custody. 

Where the Child Resides

Children may choose which parent they want to live with.  Under Alabama law (O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3, (5)-(6)) the child should be at least 14 in order to have that right.  The judge also has the option to determine if the child is mature enough to be part of this conversation. 

In some cases, a judge may believe the child is being manipulated by one parent against the other parent concerning living arrangements. Under Alabama law, the child will not likely have to testify about his/her custodial preferences, but an expert or professional counselor might speak for the child.

In most cases, joint legal custody will be awarded with one parent having “primary physical custody.”  That requires the child to live primarily with one parent but both parents will be involved equally when it comes to major decisions.  The non-custodial parent will pay child support to the residential parent.

The other option is shared physical custody where the child or children split their time between two homes.

The bottom line before a court is which parent should have primary custody based on what is “right and proper.”

In some cases, the child may have to relocate with the custodial parent. This will affect the non-custodial parent as well as the child’s friends and others involved in his life.

The court will have to decide the impact on the child as well as important relationships.  The court will also take into consideration the amount of time it will take for the non-custodial parent to visit the child and the financial burden a relocation places on either party.

Alsobrook Law Group will help you navigate the courts with the least amount of disruption to you and your children. Retaining a family law attorney will make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. Call our Opelika, Alabama office at 334-345-2765 to schedule a consultation about your case.