There was a time in Alabama when, following a divorce, mothers would be given primary or even sole custody of their children without argument. It was naturally assumed that children should live with their mothers, especially if the children were young. However, child custody laws have changed quite a bit over the past few years. Nowadays, fathers have just as much of a right to custody as moms do. There are even cases in which fathers are granted sole custody of minor children, as opposed to merely having visitation rights. Below, we explore how custody rights are determined in the state.

How child custody arrangements are determined in Alabama

According to Alabama Child Custody Law, the state upholds a policy that fosters the relationship between a parent and their child. The State’s court systems are obligated to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child, which includes ensuring that the rights of each parent are balanced, fair, and individually tailored to the specific and unique needs of the family. Courts are prevented from interfering in this relationship beyond what is reasonably necessary, unless courts are compelled to believe that the child is in danger due to one (or both) parent’s actions. When courts do overstep their boundaries, an Birmingham child custody lawyer like Sid Hughes can step in to protect their clients’ rights.

Because the gender of the parent is no longer a factor in determining child custody arrangements, the courts, instead, take into consideration 12 other components to decide who obtains custody of the child. These components were established in 1981 following the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Devine v. Devine:

  • The sex and age of each child
  • The needs of each child (emotional, educational, material, etc.)
  • The ability of each parent to offer a stable home environment for each child
  • Each parent’s current situation, including their financial stability, health, and age
  • The parent’s ability and desire to provide for the needs of each child
  • The relationship between the parent and child
  • The relationship between each child, if there are multiple siblings
  • How each child will be affected by continuing or modifying current custody arrangements
  • Which parent each child prefers to live with, if the child is of age.
  • Suggestions and recommendations from witnesses, investigators, and other pertinent parties.
  • If there are any alternative custody arrangements that might prove more stable for the child, such as living with grandparents.
  • Additional relevant issues that may apply or that may surface during custody proceedings.

When can joint custody be denied to fathers?

The only time a father may be denied custody or visitation rights is if the courts find that the father has acted in a manner which endangers the child, or upholds a certain lifestyle that may be detrimental to the child. For example, a history of drug use, verbal or physical assault, or sexual abuse can lead a court to grant sole custody to the mother.

While fathers have just as much of a right when it comes to child custody as mothers do, there are times when this right is violated and fathers are denied the ability to see and interact with their children. It’s important for any father who is struggling for custody to speak with a   Alabama to discuss their options and for assistance in filing a