wpbc158642_06Q: What should we do about the children? What will happen to the children? Who will get the children? These are questions that always come up in divorce. What are the answers?

A: Rule number one is the children themselves.

Under the law, the court must base its decisions on what is in the best interests of the children. This standard gives the court broad discretion. What each parent wants will be considered by the court. However, parental preferences will not control the court’s decision.

When considering child custody, it is important to understand that there are two types of custody that will be addressed in a divorce or custody situation. The first is legal custody and the second is physical custody.

Joint legal custody means that both parents share the right and responsibility to make decisions regarding the child s health, education and welfare. Under sole legal custody one parent has primary control over decisions regarding the child’s residence, health, education and welfare. The non-custodial parent has secondary visitation rights as ordered by the court. Joint legal custody may be granted without granting joint physical custody. In that event, while the parents share decision-making responsibility, the child resides with and is under the physical supervision of only one of the parents (the parent granted sole physical custody).

Physical custody measures the amount of time that the children spend with each parent. There can be joint physical custody and primary physical custody. A joint physical custody award means each parent has significant periods of physical custody. Physical custody must be shared in such a way as to assure the child frequent and continuing contact with both parents. It does not mean the child’s time must be equally divided with each parent (i.e., one parent can still be the primary custodian). There are Many, many ways to work out custody and child support. In Montgomery County, Alabama the Judges have taken the stance that if a child is born and the parents are not married then neither parent has custody. The only way the parents can get custody is to go to court and have the Judge award custody. If the parents are in agreement then the procedure is very easy.To learn more about custody and child support just contact our office and make an appointment so that I can sit down with you and explain the procedure. IMPORTANT: if you are paying child support and you loose your job or your circumstances change, it is very important to go to Court as,soon as possible, to ask for a modification. Child support and arrearages can grow to very large sums if you are not paying the support when due. Click here to go to our child support page