Changing or Enforcing Your Alabama Custody Order

At the end of a case, the court considers your custody or visitation order final. However, you can ask the court to change it under certain circumstances.

In the meantime, you have to follow your order. The court has ways to enforce it if a parent doesn't follow it.

Bring calm to co‑parenting. Agree on a schedule and plan. Be prepared with everything documented.

Make My Alabama Plan Now

Appealing a new order

Once you have your final order in hand, you may appeal if you believe there was a legal error (e.g., the judge overstepped or didn't reason based on evidence). Ask the court clerk for required forms.

You have a short window of time to file a notice of appeal:

  • 42 days for a divorce decree
  • 14 days for a custody order between unmarried parents issued in a district court
  • 30 days for an order issued outside Alabama, counting from the time it's registered with an Alabama court

Beyond those time periods, your order can't be appealed. In the future, if you want to change something, you'll have to go through a separate process.

Changing an order later

When you request to change an order, you must provide the court with a reason. Usually, parents show how their circumstances have changed to make the order unworkable or not ideal. Less often, they ask for "relief" on the basis that the court order was mistaken or unfair to begin with.

If a noncustodial parent wants more involvement, they may need to prove their fitness as a parent.

If one parent has sole physical custody and the other has visitation, the court isn't likely to change this. You're more likely to get a revised parenting schedule. For example, the visits may move to different days.

Trying to agree on a change

Whatever change you're requesting, it's always easier when you agree. Then you can submit your request together.

To reach an agreement, you're free to hire a mediator. A mediator is a neutral professional who guides you and your co-parent toward resolving disagreements. This can be productive when you don't see eye-to-eye but believe compromise is within reach.

Filing your change request

Whether or not the other parent wants the change too, complete a Request to Change the Current Custody or Visitation Order. On this brief form, explain specifically what you're asking to change and how it will serve your child's best interests.

File in the same county as your old case. Use your original case number. Stick with your previous labels of plaintiff and defendant, regardless of which one of you is asking for the modification.

If you signed and filed the paperwork alone, you'll need to serve the other parent to make them aware of the court action.

Exceptions for divorced parents:

  • A parent can move the case to the circuit court in the county where they've lived with the child for the last three years.
  • If there's an issue with child neglect or another emergency, a juvenile court (rather than a circuit court) may hear the case.

If you're moved to a new court system, you'll likely get a new case number, and your plaintiff/defendant roles may change.

How a change affects child support

When you make a change request, the court will require updated financial information for child support. Expect that your support order will be adjusted, especially if either of you has had a significant change in your income.

Parenting time isn't officially a factor in the state guidelines for child support, but judges often consider it when deciding on a support amount.

Enforcing an order

If you're having trouble following your order and can't resolve the issues together, the court may appoint a parenting coordinator. This may vary by county, and availability may depend on the court's resources or on your ability to pay.

A parenting coordinator helps parents work together, and they report back to the court. When an order covers topics unclearly, the parenting coordinator can interpret it for you. For topics the judge didn't cover at all, the parenting coordinator may be empowered to make decisions you have to follow.

If the other parent isn't complying with an order, you can ask for a contempt hearing. If they're found guilty of contempt, they could be briefly jailed.

Following court orders correctly

When a court issues orders, you must follow them. If you don't, you can be brought back to court, fined and more.

But orders are complicated, especially for visitation. When exactly does "Week 2" begin this month? Which day marks the middle of summer break?

Use Custody X Change to plug your order into a calendar you can edit, share and print so you'll never have to wonder whether you're following the order correctly.

With the Custody X Change online app, you can combine schedules for the school year, summer break and holidays into one calendar.

You can even track how well court orders are being followed with our parenting time tracker and parenting journal.

Custody X Change has all the tools you need to set your new parenting arrangement up for success.

Bring calm to co‑parenting. Agree on a schedule and plan. Be prepared with everything documented.

Make My Alabama Plan Now

Bring calm to co‑parenting. Agree on a schedule and plan. Be prepared with everything documented.

Make My Plan

Bring calm to co‑parenting. Agree on a schedule and plan. Be prepared with everything documented.

Make My Alabama Plan Now

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