How to Get Full Custody in the State of Alabama

By Brenna Davis

A fight over child custody is often immensely stressful for both parents and children. Alabama recognizes two types of custody -- legal and physical. Legal custody refers to which parent has decision-making responsibilities for the child, while physical custody refers to where the child lives. In the state of Alabama, in an effort to foster ongoing contact between parent and child, there is a presumption in favor of joint legal and physical custody. Joint custody does not, however, necessarily mean that both parents have the same amount of time with the child. Before seeking full custody of your child, think about whether this is truly in your child's best interests.

Custody Arrangements Overview

Full custody -- legally referred to as sole custody -- does not necessarily mean that your ex never sees your child. Sole legal custody is an arrangement in which one parent has sole authority to make decisions about the child, even though the parents may still share joint physical custody. Sole physical custody occurs when one parent is the primary custodian for the child. In most cases, the noncustodial parent is still granted visitation time. Alabama law recognizes that children need to have both parents in their lives. If, however, one parent poses a danger to the child, she may be prohibited from seeing the child or may only receive supervised visitation.

Best Interests Standard

To gain sole custody, you will need to argue that it is in your child's best interests for you to be the sole decision-maker, custodian or both. Alabama considers factors such as the relative financial and mental stability of each parent, each parent's ability to parent the child, the attachment the child feels to each parent and any history of abuse. In Alabama, there is a rebuttable presumption that parents with a history of abuse should not have custody of their children.

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Legal Procedure

To begin custody proceedings, file a petition for custody in the circuit court of the county where you reside. If you have previously been involved in legal custody disputes, you must provide information about these disputes to the court. Provide information about why you think you should be granted custody -- focusing on why it's in the best interests of your child -- in the narrative section of the petition. Then file the petition with the clerk and pay the filing fee. You must also provide a stamped copy of the petition to the other parent. Because family law can be highly complex, it's wise to hire an attorney to represent you in your custody proceedings.

What to Expect

A judge will schedule a preliminary hearing in your case. At this time, you may be ordered to attend mediation or parenting seminars. Each party will have a brief chance to present their case, but the judge will not make a decision at this hearing. The judge may also appoint a guardian ad litem -- an independent person empowered by the court to investigate the case and advocate for the child -- to file a report indicating what is in the best interests of the child. This report will help the judge make a final custody decision. If you and your ex are unable to agree about custody as the case moves forward, it will be scheduled for trial. You can call witnesses to testify on your behalf and submit evidence that it is in your child's best interests to live with you.

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How to Petition for Sole Custody in New York

References

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If you cannot agree on custody terms with your child's other parent and you desire full custody of your child, you will need to be prepared to engage in a custody battle. . Obtaining full custody in Texas is difficult as there is a presumption that joint custody will be most beneficial to the child. Before you begin, determine if you already have a custody order regarding your child. If you have not previously filed for custody you will need to seek a new custody order with the court. If you already have an custody order, you will seek to modify that order.

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How to Fight for Child Custody in Wisconsin

While most states use the "best interests of the child" standard in making custody determinations, Wisconsin has an additional requirement governing custody decisions. Judges in the state are required to assume that joint legal custody, which grants equal decision-making power to each parent, is in the best interests of the child until proven otherwise. Thus, parents in Wisconsin are less likely to find themselves fighting for visitation because visitation is always part of joint legal custody. However, physical custody – whom the child lives with – is still governed solely by the best interests standard. Parents seeking custody of their children must prove that the arrangement they desire is in their children's best interests.

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