Alabama allows either parent to file a petition for custody of a child under Title 30 of the Code of Alabama, though the standards vary slightly based upon whether the couple was divorced or voluntarily separated. In addition, Alabama makes a distinction in cases where the mother abandons the husband. In order to obtain custody, a parent will have to file a petition for custody in family court, and demonstrate to the court that they represent the best option for the safety and well-being of the child.
Draft your petition for custody. You can obtain a blank copy of the form from your county courthouse. Input into the top portion the full information on both the mother and father, and information on the child or children. You must also include a procedural history of the case outlining any previous cases involved the children, and any previous custody orders that may exist.
Include in the narrative section the basis for your request for custody. The court will make a determination as may seem right and proper, taking into consideration the moral character of each parent under Section 30-3-1 of the Code of Alabama. Outline to the court how you can provide a superior home to the child, emphasize your involvement in the child's development and highlight your financial capacity to provide. Note If there has been any domestic violence abuse by a spouse, it will create a rebuttable presumption that sole custody to the abuser is not in the child's best interests.
File your petition with the clerk's office and provide a stamped copy of the petition to the other parent via special process server such as the county sheriff. The other parent will be given time to respond to your petition, after which the court will set the matter for a hearing.
Appear at hearing on your petition. Bring any witnesses and documentary evidence you wish the court to review to hearing. You can retain an attorney at any time through this process if you so choose. After hearing both parents, the court will make a custody determination that is in the best interests of the child.