A child support order dictates how much money the non-custodial parent is required to pay the custodial parent in order to help pay for the costs of raising their child or children. These include expenses associated with health insurance premiums, work-related childcare, and others. Support amounts are based on strict guidelines established by the Alabama Supreme Court that factor in the respective incomes of each parent, the number of children involved, and other variables.
However, legal precedent may also play a role in how courts rule in child support matters. A dedicated family law attorney can be key when it comes to seeing that a support order fairly reflects the needs of the child and the ability of each parent to contribute financially to the cost of the child's upbringing. It's not unheard of for parents to act in bad faith and try to shirk their financial obligations by misrepresenting their income or other variables, and having a family law lawyer on your side during a child support dispute can make it much harder for them to do so.
Alabama courts prefer to award joint legal and physical custody whenever possible. This means that both parents are expected to work together in making decisions about where a child goes to school, receives medical care, and obtains religious instruction. It also means that the child spends time with each parent regularly, although not necessarily the same amount of time. In the event that other circumstances apply—as when one parent is a domestic abuser or a drug user—or when one of the parents involved is otherwise unwilling or unable to participate in a joint custody arrangement, the court may award legal and/or physical custody solely to one parent instead.
There are several factors that the courts consider when deciding on a child custody matter
, including the age and gender of the child or children concerned. The respective ability of each parent to participate in making sound decisions about the child's upbringing, as well as the preferences of the child or children themselves, are also considered. If applicable, all may weigh heavily in how a court ultimately rules in a child custody matter.