Child Custody and Visitation


Best Interests of the Child


In Alabama, child custody advocate and uphold the best interests of the child.  Legal issues involving a child and custody can be complex and emotionally charged.  The primary concern with child custody judgments are to maintain the stability of the child's environment and avoid unjustifiable and disruptive custody changes.  At this difficult time, you need the help of an attorney you can trust to handle your case with the utmost compassion, skill, and professionalism.

I have represented the interests of parents and their children throughout North Alabama in Madison, Morgan, and Limestone counties.  Trust me to be a strong advocate on behalf of you and your children.  Call today to arrange an initial consultation about Alabama child custody laws in your situation.


 The Court will ultimately consider:  What is the best interest of the child to award custody to the mother or to the father or both?

If the parents can agree on who gets custody, the judge will usually accept their decision without second-guessing it.  When both parents want custody of the children, the issues of custody can become the fiercest of legal battles.

Alabama child custody laws, a stable home environment is at the top of the court's list in deciding what is in the child's best interests.   A divorce is a major disruption in the child's life, and the judge will do everything possible to minimize that disruption.

  • Will the parent be home enough to take care of the child?
  • If the parent works long hours or at night, who will be looking after the child?
  • Will a young child be left alone for much of the day?
  • Does a parent display parental fitness?

Legal and Physical Custody

 There are two forms of child custody in Alabama:  Legal custody and physical custody. 

Legal Custody

 Legal custody deals with decision-making powers for the children.  If you have joint legal custody, both parents are involved in the day-to-day responsibilities for the children.  Both parents have equal say in their child's life events - such as which school the child goes to, religion and upbringing, and healthcare matters.  When one parent has sole legal custody, that parent has primary control over decisions regarding where the child goes to school, their healthcare arrangements and general upbringing an welfare. 

Physical Custody


Physical custody is about who will have physical presence with the child on a daily basis.  Physical custody determines which parent will be custodian of the child.  An award of joint physical custody means that each parent has significant periods of physical custody.  This does not mean the child's time must be divided equally between each parent because one parent usually will be the primary caretaker (custodial parent).  When a parent is granted sole or primary physical custody, the child resides with and is under the physical supervision of only that parent.  

Parent may have joint legal custody without having joint physical custody.  In that case, one parent has sole physical custody.  The child lives with and is under the physical supervision of only that parent, while both parents share decision-making responsibilities.

If the parents cannot agree on physical custody, the case ends up in court.  Alabama child custody laws incorporate several different factors regarding the "best interest of the child" upon which the judge must base his or her decision.  Some of the factors a judge will use to base his decision are:  the fault of the parties, character and conduct of each parent, age and sex of the children, past care and custody of the children, economic conditions of the parents, and preference of the children.  Future parenting of the children is very important as well when a judge decides custody matters.  

The courts favor a natural parent having physical custody of the child, but it can award custody to other parties, such as grandparents or even unrelated persons if it is in the best interest of the child.


Right to Visitation

 A child is entitled by Alabama law to spend valuable time with each parent individually.  When parents live apart, even due to divorce, the parent who does not have the child living with him or her (non-custodial parent) has the right to visit the child or have them visit him or her.  There are many different parenting time situations.  I work with mothers and fathers to structure visitation agreements that work for all involved.  If an agreement cannot be reached, I will present your evidence in the best light to get the results you seek.  When visitation of a child is involved, call me directly to schedule a consultation today.

If you and the child's other parent are able to agree on an appropriate and flexible visitation schedule, the judge most likely will approve the agreement.  

When both parents cannot agree on terms for visitation for a child, then visitation rights are usually set by the judge and are generally expressed in terms of reasonable times and places upon reasonable notice.  The visitation order will state exactly when a child must spend time with the non-custodial parent.  

Visitation Schedules

 Visitation schedules are designed to foster a strong relationship between the child and both parents.

Visitation for a child and non-custodial parent are to be of a frequency and length of time that will promote a meaningful relationship.  The type of visitation is also important, such as scheduling visits for two nights a week, alternating holidays, every other week or weekend and phone calls.

The Court often follows a default visitation schedule.  The standard parenting time varies from county to county in Alabama.  The guidelines for many Alabama counties is for every other weekend from Friday afternoon/evening to Sunday afternoon/evening or Monday morning and one overnight visit per week.

Because no two families are alike, parents can negotiate visitation and the courts will order more or less time than the default.

Visitation for a child must be flexible enough to adapt to a family's unexpected events, while also maintaining the needs of the child for consistency, structure, and growth. 

 Parenting time must also fit each family's special circumstances such as parent's work hours, medical issues, or the distances between the parents' homes.

When Visitation Should Not Occur

 Visitation schedules are court orders, and must be followed.  Yet there are times when a child refuses to go, or you simply don't want the child to go.  These are NOT cases that justify denying a non-custodial parent of visitation.  

Still, there are times when visitation is not appropriate.  Such cases might be:  

  • The child becomes very sick.
  • A parent is under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time visitation is scheduled.
  • You suspect the other parent is putting the child in danger.

 If there are extenuating circumstances such as inappropriate behavior, supervised visitation might be required for the parent with the problem.

If you believe that you need to change visitation orders, call our office immediately and schedule a consultation so that we may guide you.

Mediation In Child Custody and Visitation Matters

 Through mediation, you play a strong part in deciding the outcome rather than handing it off for a judge to decide.  I strongly believe that working through your issues and reaching a mutual agreement is the best possible route as you control your destiny.  You know your child better than any attorney or judge ever will.  Alabama child custody laws are quite flexible and supportive when it comes to amicably creating solutions for most any custody situation.

Fighting For You

 Still there will be cases where both parents simply cannot agree to work together to resolve these issues.  If the need for litigation arises, I will fight in court confidently and aggressively on your behalf.

Melissa Miller Law Firm, LLC's satisfaction comes from helping those in need of advocacy, information, or advice.  We are committed to improving the lives of children and their families through skillful and assertive legal representation.  Our firm pushes hard for efficient, positive outcomes while doing everything possible to reach a resolution smoothly and efficiently.  

Melissa Miller Law Firm, LLC understands that this is a challenging time and believes that you deserve attentive, individualized service- and that's exactly what you can expect when you work with our firm, from your initial consultation to the resolution of your case.   It's time to get help from an attorney  you can trust to work hard for your family.  Contact us today and schedule a consultation.

Contact Us

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Better yet, schedule your initial consultation today!

Call or schedule online via our home page your initial consultation today to discuss your child custody and/or visitation matters.

Melissa Miller Law Firm, LLC

111 Jefferson St NW, Huntsville, Alabama 35801, United States

(256) 970-7930


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