Aside from divorce, custody disputes and modifications can be the most difficult areas of practice in family law. More often than not the parties involved in the dispute care only about what is in the best interest of their children, but sometimes when the children become caught in the middle of the parties legal issues the children’s interest is adversely affected. One of the most important things to remember is that people initiate custody determinations and modifications for a variety of reasons, and these reasons are not always a personal attack on the fitness of the opposing party. There are several different reasons and ways that determinations and modifications are requested but some of the most common are:
Initial Custody Determinations
Custody Determination by agreement or disposition during the divorce process
An initial custody determination can be made in situations where the parties have a child together, but were not married. In this situation either party can file for a custody determination requesting one of several different types of custody or visitation. In Alabama we recognize the following types of custody:
- This is where both parents share decision making authority and physical custody.
Joint Legal Custody
- Both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child.
- Joint Physical Custody
- Physical custody is shared by the parents in a way that allows both parent frequent contact and visits with the child. However, joint physical placement does not necessarily mean that visitation with the child will be of an equal duration.
Sole Legal Custody
- One parent has sole rights and responsibilities to make major decisions concerning the child.
- Sole Physical Custody
- The parent has sole physical custody and the other parent has rights of visitation except as otherwise provided by the court.
Once a custody determination is made child support will also be calculated in order to provide the custodial parent with financial support for the child.
Most often custody is determined during the divorce process. In a divorce action where the parties can come to an agreement regarding the custody and placement of the child, the court will often ratify the parties agreement into the divorce decree thus making it binding. Custody by agreement can often be easier on the parties and the child if the settlement is amicable and both parties are effective communicators. At The Beard Law Group we understand the importance of protecting yours and your children’s interest, and we will do our best to facilitate an amicable and fair agreement regarding custody of your child if that is the course you would like to pursue.
In the event of a divorce where the parties cannot agree on custody and placement we will fight for your rights as a parent who is deserving of placement.
A modification of custody is a proceeding that requests a change in custody after an initial determination has been made. There are several reasons why a party might request a custody modification, and whether you are initiating or defending against a modification petition we will be there every step of the way. At The Beard Law Group our experienced attorney’s know what it takes to change custody and how to defend you in the event that a change has been requested.