When two parties get a divorce in Jefferson County, or anywhere else in Alabama, there are certain terms, or issues, that must be decided, and there are a few additional ones if the parties have any children. Divorces that involve children must address issues like child support and child custody. The Circuit Court judge has full discretion to determine child custody, and the judge will decide which parent should have custody based on the best interest of the children. The judge can either award sole custody or joint custody. Sole custody in a Madison County divorce means one parent has full authority over the children, and joint custody means that both parents have to share the authority. However, child custody also consists of both legal and physical custody of the parties’ children.
Physical custody determines which parent the children will live with. Children will typically continue living in the marital home, and the parent who stays with them during the divorce will most likely have a better chance at being awarded physical custody after the divorce. This is because the children will become used to living with that parent, and the judge will not want to disturb the children any more than necessary. Legal custody in a Morgan County uncontested divorce determines which parent has the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of their children, so the parent could make parenting, educational, medical, religious, and any other types of decisions concerning the children.
Before making their decision, the judge may consider a multitude of things. The judge will typically consider the children’s ages, health, and other needs, which could include educational, emotional, and social needs. For example, if the children are special needs, they may need to attend a specific school or daycare that is equipped to meet their needs. The judge will also consider each parent’s home environment, age, health, and income. The relationship between the children and each parent will also be taken into consideration, and if one of the parents has interfered with the children’s relationship with the other parent, the judge will factor that into their decision as well. The judge may want to speak with the children to see how they feel towards each parent. The judge may also order a custody evaluation where individuals in the children’s lives are interviewed by a social worker who will then make a recommendation to the judge.
After child custody has been ordered, it may be possible to have it modified if the circumstances have changed, but there must be a material change. A material change means that it could be reasonably foreseen that the change would likely affect the initial custody decision. When seeking a custody or divorce modification in Shelby County, the judge will also want to see that the requested change in custody would significantly benefit the child as to outweigh any disruption that the change in custody may cause. Child custody requires a multi-faceted evaluation, but it will ultimately be decided based on the children and what would be best for them.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, probate, and real estate closings on this website. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply feedback. We appreciate our readers & love to hear from you!