Custody is referred to as the legal and physical upbringing of a child. This can be a very confusing and contentious area of Family Law. At J Hardy Family Law, we work closely with our clients to make sure they not only understand the aspects of Custody and Visitation, but we also fight hard for our clients to help them obtain the best options for their children.
Custody is categorized in two ways:
Legal custody: relates to decisions about raising a child, in the areas: academics, non-emergency medical care, dental care, extracurricular activities, civic/cultural activities, and your child’s religious upbringing.
Physical custody is related to sole or joint custody of the child and the time-sharing arrangement
If a parent has sole legal custody, that parent alone has decision making authority. The child primarily resides with the parent that holds sole physical custody. In cases where one parent has sole physical custody, visitation rights may be granted to the other parent. Joint legal custody is when both parents make decisions based on what is best for the child. Alabama law prefers granting joint legal custody to parents wanting a custody agreement.
Custody agreements are based on several factors, such as:
The best interests of the child
The age and sex of the child
The need of the child (emotional, material, educational needs, etc.)
The parents' abilities to meet the child's needs
Parents' home environment
Parents' age, stability, and mental and physical health
Reports and recommendations from professionals (psychologists, etc.) for what is best for the child,
Child preference (if the child is of an appropriate age)
In addition to these factors, the court system considers the behavior of the parents when deciding which parent should receive sole custody, joint custody, and visitation rights. Factors that can impact a parent's custody rights include:
A history of substance or alcohol abuse
History of neglect towards a child
History of domestic violence,
History of spousal cruelty,
History of mental illness that does not respond to treatment,
Activities that can adversely affect the child (hobbies etc. that can negatively impact child development and safety)
Often when a child is living with one parent, the court gives the other parent visitation rights. Visitation rights are determined based on what is in the best interest of the child. When courts decide to grant visitation rights to a parent, it can be for numerous reasons and conditions. Visitations are granted in a time-sharing schedule. Visitation schedules can be made to work around distance (either in or out of state), child safety and wellbeing with the visiting parent, and other factors. If the safety and wellbeing of your child is in question, courts may allow or deny visitation rights or allow supervised visitations.
When Jessie Hardy creates any type of parenting agreement, the child's best interests are always the top priority. Jessie will help draft out a specific and effective custody agreement so that your child is always protected. We are dedicated to serving and helping families mediate agreements or litigate cases that put children first.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation for your Custody or Visitation questions.