Child Custody Lawyers in Alabama

When it comes to your children, you want to make sure that their wellbeing is protected. At Dothan Law Group, we understand that your children are the most important thing in your life. In Alabama, child custody can be agreed upon by the parents and approved by the court. However, if both parents are unable to come to an agreement, child custody is determined by a judge, who uses a set of factors to decide what is in the best interests of the child.

Whether this is your first foray into determining a child custody arrangement, or you have questions about a child custody modification or relocation, do not hesitate to contact our child custody lawyers at Dothan Law Group.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements

If you are going through a divorce or are involved in a custody dispute, it is important that you understand the choices Alabama judge’s have when making a child custody determination. Alabama focuses on temporary custody, physical custody, and legal custody.

Temporary Custody

A temporary child custody order may be put in place during a divorce or immediately following a child’s birth to unmarried parents. Temporary physical custody is sometimes awarded to the parent that is still living in the marital home in order to promote stability in the child’s life. In Alabama, the judge will take many different factors into consideration when making considerations of custody and what is in the best interest of the child.

Permanent Custody

If a child custody order is not intended to be temporary, then it is essentially permanent. A child custody order remains in place until a court alters the order in the future. In order to obtain permanent custody, you need to contact Dothan Law Group for an experienced custody attorney to help you with your custody needs.

Physical and Legal Custody

When it comes to custody laws in the state, there are two general terms; physical and legal custody. Physical custody is awarded to the parent with whom the child will live the majority of the time. Physical custody can remain entirely or predominantly with one parent or it can be shared between two parents.

Legal custody refers to the parent who is given the duty of making decisions on behalf of the minor child. If you and your child’s other parent do not agree on issues managed by legal custody, you may have to seek court intervention. It is best to work with an experienced child custody lawyer at Dothan Law Group to establish a custody agreement or to seek a court order.

Joint Custody

Under Alabama Code Section 30-3-152, the court must always consider joint custody. In Alabama, the law provides that both parents should have the same rights and responsibilities when it comes to making important decisions in their children’s life. The court will take into consideration various factors to come to a decision, including, but not limited to:

  • Any joint custody agreement already in place
  • The ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions together
  • The ability of the parent to encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Any history of abuse, domestic violence, or kidnapping
  • The geographic proximity of the parents

Sole Custody

Sole custody can refer to physical custody, legal custody, or both. If a court grants a parent sole legal custody, it means that parent alone has the decision-making authority, and the other may have visitation. There are important distinctions between legal custody and physical custody. You could have sole physical custody of a child, but joint legal custody which you share with the other parent. Being granted sole custody does not impact the other parent’s right to visitation.


When determining child custody, visitation and matters related to the proper allocation of parental responsibilities, either during or after a divorce or for unmarried parents, the courts will decide based on the best interests of the child. One parent can have sole custody, while the other parent retains the right to have significant parenting time and contact with the child. At Dothan Law Group, our attorneys work with parents who have questions about visitation during divorce or who need to modify a parenting time schedule after a divorce.

Custody Considerations & Factors

If the parties cannot agree between themselves on parenting time and a parenting plan, the precise combination of joint or sole physical or legal custody will be determined by the judge who uses a set of factors to decide what is in the best interests of the child. These factors include the following:

  • The age and sex of the child(ren)
  • The needs of the child, including material, educational, emotional, social, and moral needs
  • The home environment of both spouses or parties requesting custody
  • The age, character, health, and stability of each party asking for custody
  • The relationships between the child and each parent as well as among the children
  • The effect that a change in custody would have on the wellbeing of the child

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but are amongst the most commonly considered factors a family court looks at when deciding the custody situation between unmarried parents. Regardless of whether the divorce was amicable or filled with conflict, it is highly likely that there will need to be some continuing ongoing contact post-divorce for years to come. At Dothan Law Group, we work to help you and your divorcing spouse to develop a parenting plan that works for both parents and the children.

Child Custody Modifications

Parents may need to change their custody agreement at some point if a change in circumstances occurs. To change a custody agreement, individuals must file a motion with the court, which will determine if a change in custody is best for the child. Some reasons you may want to modify a child custody or visitation order include, but are not limited to:

  • One parent moving out of state
  • You think your child is in danger
  • Failure to follow the current court order
  • Death or incarceration of the custodial parent
Alabama Child Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents

In Alabama, child custody may either be granted to unmarried parents jointly, or to one parent solely. Your rights and responsibilities to your child are not dependent on you being married to the child’s other parent; however, there are different laws regarding unmarried parents. If you and your child’s other parent were unmarried when you had your child or children, then Alabama law requires you to establish paternity. Whether you are married, divorcing, or unmarried, contact the experienced child custody lawyers for legal advice.

Child Custody Lawyer in Dothan, Alabama

If you are involved in a child custody battle, whether this is a new or recurring issue, the experienced attorneys at Dothan Law Group are here to help. We provide expert, detailed support and representation, working to further the best interests of children and their families. If you need help with any of the custody laws, you may need to contact Dothan Law Group to help you with your custody needs. We are highly experienced lawyers who can guide you through making child-custody decisions with the other parent or fighting for your rights in court.