In Alabama, if the parents cannot agree on the custody and visitation of the children then the court will make a judicial decision based upon the law and the evidence presented in court. At the Law Office of Robert F. Smith, we know that everyone benefits from a negotiated cooperative child custody and visitation agreement, especially the child. We work hard to reach an agreement knowing this. As a last resort, the court should determine your rights to your children. Our job is to explain to you Alabama’s custody law and how it relates to your circumstances. We want you to make an informed decision and be prepared to fight for custody should the circumstances dictate.
There are many types of custody arrangements. Several are outlined below:
- Physical custody means that a parent has the right to have the child live with him or her. When a child lives primarily with one parent, this parent will have physical custody and the other parent will have visitation rights. Sometimes the husband and wife share physical custody.
- Legal custody means that a parent has the right and obligation to make major decisions regarding the raising of the child. This may include decisions regarding health care, education, religion, extracurricular activities, etc. Sometimes the parties share legal custody. This means that they share the decision-making process concerning the child.
- Sole custody can take several forms. It means that one parent has sole legal custody, sole physical custody, or sole legal and physical custody of the child.
- Joint custody can vary from situation to situation. The parents can share legal custody, physical custody or both. If the parties share physical custody, they must work out an appropriate schedule that meets their needs and the needs of the child.
- Split custody is when there is more than one child and the parents have custody of different child/children.
There are many different visitation arrangements ranging from a fixed visitation schedule, which details times and places for visitation with the non-custodial parent, for example, every other weekend or twice a week, etc. This type of arrangement also sets up a schedule for holidays and vacations. Most courts have visitation guidelines.
Another arrangement is one of “reasonable visitation” which allows the parents more flexibility by considering the schedules of the parents and the child on a week to week or month to month basis in determining how much time the child will spend with the non-custodial parent.
Here again, being represented by an attorney who is a skilled negotiator benefit both parents and the child by giving more control over the outcome to the people involved.