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The Hawkins Law Firm The Hawkins Law Firm
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Understanding Shared Custody in Alabama

shared custody concept

Shared custody, also known as joint custody, is a type of custody arrangement in which both parents have legal and physical custody of their children following a divorce.

In Alabama, shared custody is one of the most commonly used custody arrangements. It allows both parents to have equal access to their children, and for the most part, both parents have a say in important decisions regarding their children including their schooling, medical concerns, and other important decisions. Additionally, both parents share the physical custody of their children.

If you have children and are navigating a divorce, it’s important to know your rights and options when it comes to child custody agreements. Let’s take a closer look at what shared custody means in Alabama and the rights you have as a parent.

Legal Custody in Alabama

Legal custody refers to the right and ability of a parent to make important decisions regarding their children. These are typically big decisions and can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Decisions about education and schooling
  • Medical care and healthcare
  • Religion and spiritual practices
  • All other important aspects of a child’s life

Physical Custody in Alabama

Physical custody refers to the actual physical custody of the child. This includes where a child will live, who will provide for the child’s basic needs, and how the child will be cared for.

Unlike legal custody, physical custody has an immediate, overarching presence on the child’s life. This is because physical custody determines where a child will live, how they will be cared for, and whether they will need to relocate in order to satisfy the child custody agreement.

When deciding on physical custody in Alabama, a court will look at many factors to determine how physical custody will be for a family that is going through a divorce. These factors are all based on what is in the child’s best interest. Factors that can influence this choice include but are not limited to the following:

  • A parent’s ability to provide for the child’s basic needs
  • A parent’s relationship with the child
  • Any history of abuse or neglect

If one parent is awarded more physical custody than another, then the other parent may be responsible for paying child custody payments to the other parent in order to help financially support the child.

Shared Custody in Alabama

In many cases where both parents are deemed fit to care for their child, a court may issue shared custody to both parents. Under this arrangement, both parents share legal custody of the child, meaning that they both have an equal say in the child’s upbringing and decision-making. Additionally, the child will spend equal time with each parent, which is usually a week on and a week off.

In cases where a shared custody agreement is in place, parents are often amicable enough in their relationship that they can come to an agreement on a shared custody schedule without much fuss. Additionally, parents are entrusted to be able to amicably decide on life-altering choices that will impact the child.

If parents are unable to come to these types of agreements, this could be an indication that a shared custody agreement might not be the best solution for the child. After all, custody agreements are designed with what’s in the best interest of a child.

Benefits of Shared Custody

Shared custody agreements are often the best solution for a child if both parents are able to cooperate and work with one another. Because of this, successfully shared custody agreements bring with them plenty of benefits.

For parents who are willing to work together, a shared custody agreement allows them to avoid all the stress, heartache, and conflict that can often be associated with child custody proceedings.

Sharing custody of a child also allows both parents to have an active role in their children’s lives, an advantage that not only benefits parents but of course, the children. Another incidental benefit is that shared custody can provide both parents with more flexibility in terms of work and other commitments they may have.

When done correctly, children can be the biggest winners of a shared custody agreement. Children will be removed from the potential toxicity of a failed marriage, and they will be able to maintain and nurture a relationship with both their parents which can significantly help them throughout the course of their life. Children who have a strong relationship with both parents are more likely to have a positive self-image, better academic performance, and better overall mental health.

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