General Custody Observations in Alabama Divorce Proceedings
By statute, Alabama courts are directed in divorce proceedings to:
give the custody and education of the children of the marriage to either father or mother, as may seem right and proper, having regard to the moral character and prudence of the parents and the age and sex of the children; and pending the action, may make such orders in respect to the custody of the children as their safety and well-being may require. But in cases of abandonment of the husband by the wife, he shall have the custody of the children after they are seven years of age if he is a suitable person to have such charge.
Despite the statute, Alabama courts have the inherent power to enter orders for the custody and care of minor children. In Alabama, a custody award that works to separate siblings has not favored absent a compelling showing and reasons for the separation.
Your Child Becomes a Ward of the State of Alabama in Divorce Proceedings Involving The Custody of a Child
When a proceeding is instituted concerning the custody of a child, the child becomes a ward of the court and any matter affecting that child falls under the court's purview and jurisdiction. A child born to a married woman is presumed to be the legitimate offspring of the husband. So long as the presumed father persists in claiming paternity, no one, including the mother has the standing to challenge the presumed father under the law. Anyone attempting to charge otherwise, must present clear and convincing evidence that it is naturally, physically, or scientifically impossible for the husband to be the father.
Court's Finding of Paternity in Child Custody Proceedings
After a court issues a finding of paternity, it precludes the parties from disputing the child's paternity in the future. The court has broad discretion in what it can order affecting the child. A court can issue a restraining order and include that a party does not contact the child's school or medical providers.
Domestic Violence and Child Custody
Alabama law imposes a rebuttable presumption under the law where there has been domestic violence or family violence. Alabama courts have long held that it is detrimental to the child and is not in the best interest of a child to be placed in sole custody, joint legal custody, of joint physical custody with the perpetrator of domestic or family violence. However, the court is not required to apply the presumption simply because a husband has pleaded guilty to domestic violence against the wife during the marriage. A trial court may be reversed upon a divorce and custody appeal to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals where there was the testimony of physical violence during the marriage and the husband still receives joint physical custody. Because the law favors those who have been hurt by domestic violence, as it should, it also allows for abuse by some during a divorce process. It is not uncommon for abuse allegations to fly both ways during a child custody matter in Alabama.
Hire a Child-Custody Attorney
If you are facing a divorce or a potential divorce, it is imperative that you seek the advice of experienced Huntsville Child-Custody and Divorce Lawyers. Our firm has helped thousands of clients and has decades of experience. Please call for a free consultation.