Alabama Parenting Plan and Agreement Guidelines

The laws about Alabama parenting plans and agreements are found in Chapter 3, Title 30 in the Code of Alabama.

Here are some guidelines from the law to help you make your parenting plan.

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Types of custody

Legal custody is the right parents have to make decisions for their child on important matters such as the child's health care, education, and religious upbringing.

Joint legal custody is when both parents have equal rights to make major decisions. Sole legal custody is when one parent has the right and responsibility to make major decisions.

Physical custody is the time that parents spend with their child.

Joint physical custody is when both parents share physical custody of the child. It means the child spends significant and continuing time with both parents, not necessarily that both parents have equal time.

Sole physical custody is when the child lives with one parent and has visitation with the other parent.

Joint custody means that parents have both joint legal and joint physical custody.

Preference for joint custody

Alabama courts prefer to award joint custody and the court will consider a joint custody arrangement in every case.

The court will consider the following when deciding about joint custody:

  • If the parents have been able to agree on a joint custody arrangement
  • The ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make decisions together
  • The ability of the parents to encourage the child to share love, affection, and contact with the other parent
  • How close the parents live to each other
  • Any history of child abuse or kidnapping

If both parents request joint custody, the court will order it. The court can also order joint custody without the consent of both parents. Sole custody can be ordered if it is in the best interest of the child.

If joint custody is ordered, the court requires parents to submit a parenting plan with provisions that cover the care and custody of the child.

Information to include in your plan

Your parenting plan or agreement is the written document that explains how you and the other parent will continue to care and provide for your child.

Your parenting plan should include information about:

Process to make your plan official

You and the other parent can negotiate your parenting plan and submit it together to the court. The court will usually approve your plan and make it the custody order.

If you and the other parent can't reach an agreement about your plan, you must go to court and the judge will decide your plan.

The judge will make your plan in the best interest of the child. In deciding the plan, the court has no preference toward the father or mother. Instead, the court looks at the prudence, ability, and fitness of both parents along with the age and sex of the child.

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The top fifteen cities in Alabama (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Hoover, Dothan, Auburn, Decatur, Madison, Florence, Gadsden, Prattville, Phenix City, Vestavia Hills.

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