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Child Custody


It is often said that children are the ones who truly suffer in a divorce. This is why child custody is one of the most important and most vigorously debated terms of a divorce. If you are going through a divorce it is important that you understand the facts about child custody.

There are really two distinct matters that go into child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves a parent’s right to make decisions such as education, extra curricular activities, medical treatment, etc. Physical custody involves the child’s residency.

The determination of child custody is made by the Court after considering the Best Interest of the child (children). Some of the factors that go into the Court’s consideration of the Best Interest include:


  • The gender, age, and health of the child

  • The child’s current routine

  • The child’s current residence and the residence of each parent

  • Whether there are any siblings and their current residence

  • The child’s wishes, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity

  • Each parent’s ability to provide for and supervise the child adequatelyMost Alabama Courts will hesitate to use words such as “full custody” in a child custody order, simply because such wording often tends to alienate the other parent. However, many child custody orders give “Joint Legal Custody” to the parties with one parent having “Primary Physical Custody.” It is important to understand that this means almost exactly the same thing as “full custody.

For example: If Mom and Dad have Joint Legal Custody, and Mom has Primary Physical Custody, this is practically the same as Mom having Full Custody. Technically speaking, with Joint Legal Custody, both parents have input into the decision making part of parenting such as choosing a school, allowing extra curricular activities, which doctor to see, etc. However, if the parents cannot agree on a particular decision, the Primary Custodian (in this case, Mom) gets to make the decision over the other parent’s objection.

It is very important to make the absolute best decision for child custody at the time of the divorce or initial custody determination because it is much more difficult to modify custody at a later time. If you are going through a divorce or child custody proceeding, you need to have an experienced family law attorney on your side. Call me today at  205-759-1949 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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