Fathers who want to be involved in their children's lives after a divorce or separation need to know their rights. The best interest of the child is always taken into consideration when determining custody of a child in Alabama, and it will trump a mother's or father's right to the child. The same is true of visitation rights for the noncustodial parent; the courts will rule in favor of the best interest of the child. However, when it comes to child support, the father's rights are the same as the mother's rights.
Under Code of Alabama, Section 30-3-2, when a husband and wife mutually agree to separate, either parent can petition the court to adjudicate custody. The carefulness, aptitude and suitability of the parents will be taken into consideration, as will the age and sex of the child. Witnesses may testify and be examined in court during this process. Either sole or joint custody will be awarded
Joint custody means that both the mother and father have been found to act in the best interest of the child, and they will both have constant and continuous contact with the child. The father, same as the mother, has the right to make important decisions in the child's life. However, joint custody does not guarantee equal physical custody.
If only one parent is found to have the best interest of the child at heart, that parent will have sole custody, meaning only that parent can make decisions on behalf of the child.
Fathers have the same rights as mothers when it comes to paying and receiving child support. To formulate the amount of child support, Alabama uses an income share model. This model takes into account the combined gross income of both the mother and the father; each parent's gross earning as a percentage of their combined gross income; a pre-existing agreement for child support or alimony; the number of minor children; the cost of childcare while the parent works; and the price for the child's health insurance and which parents pays that cost. Child support can be recalculated at any time upon the father or the mother's request.
The courts have a lot of freedom when determining visitation rights for the noncustodial parent. The visitation schedule can be very specific as to times and dates or general as to reasonable times and places. The factors that come into consideration when assigning visitation include the health, education and welfare of the child. Even if both parents agree to no visitation, the court still has the power to provide those rights to the noncustodial parent.