Alabama Divorce & Family Law Attorney Blog

Five Key Divorce Tax Questions

Posted in Alabama Divorce

During tax season, divorced and divorcing couples have important questions to answer when filing. Whether you filed for divorce in 2013 or you are considering a divorce this year, it is important to consider how divorce may impact your taxes. Many couples don’t realize how complicated filing taxes can be after divorce, until it is too late. It could also carry additional financial obligations for which many newly divorced couples are not prepared. Our Birmingham divorce attorneys are experienced in complex financial issues that may impact a divorce or settlement. In addition to raising awareness of these issues, we also will protect the rights of individual clients as they navigate the divorce process.

For most couples, tax events do not become an issue until after the divorce is finalized. Here are five key divorce tax questions faced by Alabama couples:

Who claims kids as dependents?
This is an important question because deductions can be valuable for the parent that claims the children as dependents. Prior to 2009, parents could specify in a divorce settlement what parent claimed the deduction. Now, divorce settlements cannot be used to support dependency claims. Parents must use the IRS Form 8332 and it must be signed by custodial parent for use by the non-custodial parent, essentially allowing the release of exemption claim. For each dependent, you can deduct $3,900 from federal tax income. To qualify, the child must live with you more than half the year and be under the age of 19 or a full-time student under 24.

What is filing status for the year of divorce?

After a divorce, you may think you can still file jointly if you were married part of the year, but this is not the case. If you were divorced at the end of the tax year, then you must file single. If you were recently divorced and considering how to file, it is best to consult with an experienced tax advocate who can help identify your tax obligations after divorce.

How is alimony taxed?
If you are paid alimony by a former spouse, remember that you must claim the payment as income and pay taxes on it. It may come as a surprise, but you could be liable for additional tax burdens. Conversely, alimony payers get to claim the payment as a deduction.

Do I pay taxes on child support?
Unlike spousal support or alimony which is considered income, child support is not taxed. It is also not deductible for those paying child support.

How will divorce impact mortgage deductions?
If one party decides to keep the marital home, he or she can claim the mortgage interest deduction. Your mortgage interest is tax deductible, which can be one benefit to keeping a family home.

Divorce can have significant tax consequences, so it is important to fully understand your obligations. Every couple has unique circumstances so it may not be clear if your tax responsibilities will go up or down after divorce. You should review your case with an experienced advocate who can keep you abreast of your rights and obligations.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Defining Equitable Distribution of Property in an Alabama Divorce, Oct. 14, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Pregnant and Contemplating Divorce? Contact Our Birmingham Family Law Attorneys. Aug. 30, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Post-Engagement Break-Ups: Who Keeps the Ring?

Posted in Uncategorized

Even before a marriage is finalized, engaged couples may already face a host of legal issues. While a prenuptial agreement can prevent some complications later on, property issues may arise before a couple ever says “I do.” In a recent case, a couple landed in court after a man ended an engagement through text messages. The legal question involved a 2.97 carat diamond engagement ring valued at $53,000. According to reports, the bride-to-be received the ring in 2011 and was dumped by her fiancé in 2012 by text message, 14 months after she acquired the ring. Following the break-up, additional texts were exchanged, at least one indicating that the engagement ring was a “parting gift.”

ringsoWhile courts have had differing opinions on who keeps the engagement ring, one thing never changes: no couple is insulated from legal drama before, during, or after the marriage. Our Birmingham divorce attorneys are experienced in the range of legal questions faced by Alabama families. We are dedicated to protecting our clients and staying abreast of the legal issues that impact divorce, child custody, and property after divorce. Our firm is also experienced with prenuptial agreements that can preempt a number of legal issues that may arise during or after a marriage.

In the recent case involving the engagement ring, the court ruled that the ring was a gift, based on the allegations as well as the text message evidence. This case also sheds light on the importance communications can play in court. With social media, smartphone technology, text apps and other forms of communication, individuals entering a divorce or facing a legal dispute should be extremely wary of what is said in a text. What you may believe to be a flippant comment could come back to influence the results in your case. The judge ruled that the ring was no longer in contemplation of marriage because the husband-to-be did not ask for it to be returned. He also called it a “parting gift.”

For individuals who are recently engaged, it is important to be aware of state laws that may impact your rights to property before, during and after divorce. In most states, rings are considered gifts upon condition of marriage. This means that it must be returned if a couple decides not to wed. The idea behind this analysis is that the engagement ring is a conditional gift, belonging to the receiver only if the marriage is finalized. In the event that an engagement is ended or the marriage is not going to take place, the wearer must return the ring. In this case, the ring was no longer considered an engagement ring or a conditional gift since the giver deemed the ring a “parting gift.” Courts have also ruled that gifts are irrevocable and cannot be reversed because of “giver’s remorse.”

Laws involving property and marriage can be complicated. Whether you have given or received an engagement ring or you have already entered marriage, it is important to understand your rights and obligations. A prenuptial agreement can help both parties clarify their intentions and prevent future disputes. It can also help you protect your property rights and investments in the event of a divorce.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Defining Equitable Distribution of Property in an Alabama Divorce, Oct. 14, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Preparation: Compiling a Secret Divorce Fund, Sept. 25, 2013, Birmingham Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Blog

Prenuptial Agreements for Blended Alabama Families

Posted in Alabama Divorce

Remarriage after divorce and family blending can be complicated for both parties as well as the children. In addition to the emotional aspects of family blending, which can take time, you should also consider a prenuptial agreement in your arrangement. One of the reasons that prenuptial agreements are attractive to blended families is that they can protect the interests of both parties and their children from a previous relationship. Creating a comprehensive prenuptial agreement can also ensure that both parties are being up front an honest about their finances, as well as communicative about their expectations. Working through these financial issues at the outset can also prevent personal or legal disputes later on in your marriage.

For many singles who are approaching marriage for a second or third time, blending finances may be scary. You may have already gone through a messy divorce or finally regained your financial independence. Working towards sharing finances again may not be what you had in mind, despite falling in love again. Our Birmingham family law attorneys understand the complicated issues faced by clients who are entering a second or third marriage. We are sympathetic to the concerns faced by parents with children from a prior marriage. We will take the time to review your individual circumstances and help to tailor a prenuptial agreement that protects your rights and long-term family interests.

One of the first issues faced by blended families is sharing bills and expenses. Does the family share the expenses for each child? Does each parent contribute separately to their own child’s care? Asking these questions from the outset will help you and your partner prepare for the future. You may not realize that you do not share the same ideas of what expenses should be shared or kept separately. Remember, there is no “right” way to blend a family, but both parties should have a clear idea of their best interests and obligations before entering a marriage.

Blended families are becoming increasingly common in Alabama and throughout the United States. When you no longer fit the mold of the “traditional family” it is important to understand the legal implications of your finances and your arrangement. Pursuing a prenuptial agreement or post-nuptial contract is one way to establish the rights and responsibilities of both parties. Remember that blending family finances goes beyond a shared bank account. Your new family will have to learn how to share income, debts, expenses, and assets. Beyond sharing information and remaining communicative, you want a clear set of responsibilities in the event of a dispute.

The first step is creating a budget for your family, identify how much you have coming in and what new expenses your family will have to absorb. You will also want to talk with your new or future spouse about retirement planning. A prenuptial plan can also protect your individual retirement as well as determine how your assets will be divided in the event of death or incapacitation. If you have been previously married and want to avoid first-time money mistakes, now is the time to start planning for your future and to consider a prenuptial agreement.

Contact Birmingham divorce and family law attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Step-Parents and Abuse: A Child Returns Home After Year of Neglect

Posted in Alabama Child Custody & Visitation

One of the most troubling aspects of divorce is knowing that your children will be out of your care. Even if you trust your former spouse, you may not trust a new partner, step-parent or other caretaker you don’t have the opportunity to vet. In a troubling case, a young boy was finally released to his biological mother after a year of abuse and captivity. The case raises issues about custody, abuse, and the potential danger of abusive step-parents. Our Birmingham family lawyers understand the complexity and emotional issues surrounding custody cases. We are also dedicated to protecting the rights of our parent-clients as well as the best interests of their children.

This case made international headlines after a five-year-old boy was discovered severely malnourished and covered in bruises. Reports indicated that he had suffered extensive abuse at the hands of his father and his stepmother. When police found the boy, he had been kept in a padlocked closet under the stairs in a Texas home. He told investigators that he only received one piece of bread and a cup of milk or water every day. He only weighed 29 pounds when he was rescued by law enforcement. The boy was finally reunited with his biological mother after being kept in these conditions for over a year.

Reports have indicated that the young victim of abuse was given drugs to stay quiet and that he wasn’t allowed to eat dinner at the table with the other children who belonged to his 33-year-old stepmother. Though the stepmother claims she was unaware of the conditions, she has been charged with felony child endangerment for keeping the boy locked under the stairs. She claims that she never saw the child in such bad condition and she blames the husband for the neglect and abuse.

Police were called to the home after a disturbance and were tipped off by the stepmother’s 16-year-old son that the child was locked up under the stairs. The teenager told the police that his 5-year-old brother was kept in a diaper and locked under the stairs. There are conflicting reports about who was responsible for the abuse, as the stepmother claimed that the son and father lived in Alabama, but evidence was clear that the child was malnourished and suffered symptoms of neglect.

This case reflects the potential dangers faced by children who are taken away from a biological parent. Some custody determinations can put children at risk if their interests are not protected. If you are facing divorce, you want to ensure that your rights are protected and that your children are safe. If you suspect that your spouse or their partner is a danger to your child, you can take action to protect your children. An experienced attorney can review your case and take necessary legal action to protect your children from neglect or abuse. If you suspect that a child is being neglected or abused, you should also report the case to authorities.

To speak with a custody and family law attorney in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

“Away Custody”: Moving Out-of-State or Abroad, Jan. 17, 2014, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Preparation: Compiling a Secret Divorce Fund, Sept. 25, 2013, Birmingham Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Blog

“Conscious Uncoupling”—Not Just for Gwyneth

Posted in Alabama Collaborative Law

As news of Gwyneth Paltow’s divorce hit the internet—so has the phrase “conscious uncoupling” to describe her separation. While the expression may sound too good to be true when headed towards divorce, there are ways that you too can minimize the stress of a divorce and find the best possible solutions for your family. Every year, thousands of married couples will realize that divorce is the best option. When you make the decision to get a divorce, there are steps you can take to leave the marriage in the best possible position, for yourself and your family.

No one enters marriage with the plan to divorce. No one enters a marriage hoping that it will end. This means that for couples who do make the decision to divorce, it is likely after trying every possible way to make things work—sometimes they just don’t. A Birmingham divorce attorney is experienced in protecting the rights of clients while working towards long-term family solutions. We understand that going through a divorce can be challenging. We will take the time to review your concerns, identify your objectives, and work to achieve optimal results for you and your family.

Remember that not all marriages are meant to last forever and approaching your negotiation and settlement with an open-mind can help you achieve desirable results and ensure a smooth transition for all parties. Even if your marriage is ending in divorce, you can still move forward knowing that you have done the best for your family. When dealing with the practical aspects of divorce, consider how remaining mindful can help to create lasting solutions for all parties.

Custody and visitation. To protect your rights and the best interests of your children, a custody and visitation order could become contentious. Focus on working towards an amicable solution that will work for all parties. You don’t have to make unnecessary concessions, however, you should also be open-minded to alternatives that may work best for your family in the long-term.

Division of property and security. Similarly, working towards a financial settlement may also mean more negotiation than just taking what you want. Consider your long-term interests in moving forward and building security rather than focusing on the little things. Again, you should always protect your rights, but keep in mind your priorities when working towards a settlement agreement.

Alimony/spousal support. Whether you are a dependent spouse or a breadwinner who may be responsible for alimony obligations, consider an equitable solution to ensure that both parties are able to regain financial footing after a divorce.

Though it can be difficult to revisit your relationship with “rose-colored” glasses, trying to keep the peace can ultimately help you and your family achieve lasting solutions. “Conscious uncoupling” may mean remembering why you were together, as well as remembering why you have chosen to be apart. Choosing to divorce does not mean that love was never there, it means making the best decision for yourself and your family as you move forward into the next chapter.

Contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Study: Divorce is on the Rise

Posted in Uncategorized

Most sources put the divorce rate at around 50%, adjusting for age and other demographics. A new study published by the Minnesota Population Center and featured in Time Magazine, shows that the divorce rate may be higher than initially expected, especially among older couples. Every couple may hit rocky points, but nearly half of married couples reach the point where they are ready to call it quits. This could be even more likely in second marriages and for older couples. New statistics show that while divorce rates may be lower among young couples, this doesn’t mean that families are more stable. Cohabiting couples who are unmarried are even less likely to survive.

The American Community Survey started digging deeper into divorce rates in 2008 to uncover more specific data. While figures since the 80s have  maintained that the divorce rate hovers around 50%, new data indicates that the rates may be even higher, and continuing to rise. Our Birmingham divorce attorneys are dedicated to helping clients navigate the legal system and protect their rights during separation and the dissolution of marriage. In addition to providing strategic counsel and advocacy, we are also abreast of sociological trends that impact the rates of divorce.

According to reports, divorce rates are especially high among older couples. The Baby Boom generation was responsible for deviating from traditional values, resulting in a high degree of individualism, and a general rise in marital instability. These couples who are now middle-aged and reaching retirement are not becoming more grounded or stable in their marriage. Studies show that divorce rates have skyrocketed for those between the ages of 60 and 65 since 1990. Reports from the Minnesota Population Center also show that these rates go up even higher for couples above the age of 65.
One reason that older couples have a higher rate of divorce is because they are more likely to be in their second or third marriage. Once a first marriage fails, it is more likely to divorce in a second or third. The baby boomer generation was divorcing at staggeringly high rates in the 70s and 80s and it seems that they have continued this trend into their later years. As marriage has become less of a duty and institution, more couples are feeling free about moving forward independently.

Though older couples divorce at a higher rate than younger ones, younger generations are also divorcing at record levels. Young couples are more likely to go through multiple partners and to divorce than previous generations. Whatever age you consider divorce, it is important to consult with an experienced advocate who can protect your rights and interests.

Every couple faces their own reasons for divorce, and some are more complicated than others. You may have grown apart or fallen out of love. Some couples divorce because of financial struggles, infidelities, or abuse issues. Regardless of your reasons to divorce, the final decision to separate from a spouse is your own. Trends towards divorce may not be a signal of failure, but a sign that more couples are willing to face reality and transition into a new phase in life.

Contact Birmingham divorce and family law attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Reducing Alimony Obligations in Alabama

Posted in Alabama Alimony

Whether you are considering divorce, in the middle of negotiating a settlement, or you have already been strapped with alimony obligations, you might be wondering how difficult it is to get them reduced. While reducing alimony obligations is possible, it is best to ensure a fair settlement at the outset—adjusting obligations after a judgment or settlement can be challenging. Still, there are some instances where adjusting or reducing spousal support is an option. Our Birmingham divorce attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights and financial interests of our clients before, during, and after divorce. We will take the time to review the facts of your case, identify your obligations, review your income, and pursue all of your options for a modification.

The courts will be evaluating the conditions under which your payments can be adjusted, reduced or terminated. It is possible to have some terms negotiated in the settlement agreement. Assuming you have not addressed these issues in a prior settlement, here are four instances where reduction in alimony may be possible in Alabama:

Medical disability or illness. Individuals who suffer in an accident, are diagnosed with a disease or medical condition that renders them unable to work may be able to obtain a reduction or elimination of spousal support responsibilities. The court is likely to consider additional factors including your age, physical condition, emotional stability and other factors that inhibit your ability to work or make payments.

Reduced pay or unemployment. In the current economy, no job is safe. If you have recently been laid off and are unable to make spousal support payments, you may be eligible for a modification. Remember that this option is not available if you voluntarily leave your position.

Remarriage or living with a new partner. Many payees are mistaken in thinking that only remarriage can trigger a spousal support reduction. You may also be able to seek a reduction or termination of obligations if your former spouse has moved in with a new partner. This is not applicable if your spouse has moved in with a roommate. The situation must also appear to be permanent and could make you eligible for a spousal support modification.

Death. This is not necessarily helpful for those seeking a modification, but it is noteworthy that your obligations will not be handed down to a dependent. At the time of death, you and your estate are released from any spousal support or alimony obligations.

In some instances, spousal support assignments may be too high or become unmanageable. It is within your rights to have your case reviewed to see if a modification is possible. If you are having financial difficulties in meeting your spousal support obligations, do not flout a court order or wait to seek a court approved modification. Failure to pay child support or spousal support could result in being held in contempt. Penalties could be both civil and criminal. An experienced advocate can help review your case, identify your options and pursue a reduction or elimination of spousal support obligations.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Defining Equitable Distribution of Property in an Alabama Divorce, Oct. 14, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Pregnant and Contemplating Divorce? Contact Our Birmingham Family Law Attorneys. Aug. 30, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

“In Sickness and in Health?” Disability and Divorce

Posted in Alabama Divorce

When a couple is standing at the altar making marital declarations, they usually weigh the importance of these vows, including the phrase “in sickness and in health.” Unfortunately, life circumstances and tragedy, including accident or illness can send a couple into unknown territory. In addition to the physical challenges of an injury or disability, couples often will suffer from additional emotional and financial strains. According an article published by an economics professor from Syracuse University, individuals who suffer from disability are more likely to get divorced.

An unexpected disability leaves both the victim and the spouse in unpredictable circumstances. While some couples may depend on each other for support and stability, others may have a difficulty adjusting to new life challenges and circumstances. Even after a couple has grown apart, there may be guilt in ending a marriage after a disability. Our Birmingham divorce attorneys understand that both disability and divorce are huge personal hurdles. Whether you have decided to pursue a divorce after disability or you are considering whether it is right for you, we can help. Every situation is unique and we will take the time to understand your position, identify your goals, and help you protect your rights throughout the process.

The economics study examining disability and divorce showed that the onset of disability increases the likelihood of divorce. According to the American Community Survey, the type of disability faced by one spouse created a greater likelihood of divorce. For example, in marriages with no disability, couples had a 2.2 percent chance of divorcing in one year. For couples with a disability, those numbers went up. In marriages where one spouse had an ambulatory defect or needed care, the likelihood of divorce in the year went up to 3.3%. In marriages where one spouse suffered a cognitive disability, the likelihood of divorce went up to 4.1%

In a marriage, any number of factors could influence a decision to divorce. A disability may not be the reason for divorce, but it could give rise to other factors. The onset of disability could leave both spouses in a financial struggle—already a leading cause of divorce. A disability also means that both spouses will suffer a more challenging life. There could be stress about care and housework or economic realities that fall heavily on the non-disabled spouse. All of this could lead to resentment and emotional challenges later on. So while a disability may not be to blame for the end of a marriage, the number of hardships caused by disability could leave one or both parties ready to end the marriage.

If you are in a relationship that has been strained by disability, do not feel guilty about considering your options or a way out. Commitment is important, but divorce is a solution when you are unable to work out differences. Every marriage has its hardships, but when yours become too much, remember you have options and rights. Our Alabama divorce attorneys are dedicated to helping clients find the best solutions for their families.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Defining Equitable Distribution of Property in an Alabama Divorce, Oct. 14, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Preparation: Compiling a Secret Divorce Fund, Sept. 25, 2013, Birmingham Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Blog

Married Women Denied Divorce in Alabama

Posted in Alabama Divorce

As same-sex marriage laws shift and evolve state-by-state, so will the nation’s laws on divorce. One of the complications of same-sex marriage is how to dissolve a union in a state where same-sex marriage isn’t recognized. These legal questions have cropped up throughout the nation, turning up a very important decision in the state of Alabama. Earlier this month, an Alabama judge ruled that two women who were married in Iowa cannot obtain a divorce in Alabama.

According to reports, a judge threw out an uncontested divorce between two women in Huntsville. The complaint was filed earlier this month and the two separated women were seeking a divorce after their 2012 wedding. Since the couple was no longer living together or getting along, there was no contest. Despite the mutually agreeable decision to dissolve the marriage, the judge dismissed the case because Alabama laws don’t apply to same sex unions. Our Birmingham family law attorneys are dedicated to staying abreast of legal issues that impact the lives of Alabama residents.

In the past few years, state marriage laws have changed drastically for same-sex couples. The Iowa Supreme Court overturned the state ban on gay marriages in 2009 allowing same sex couples to legally marry. Unfortunately, the majority of states, including Iowa, also have a residency requirement for performing a divorce. In effect, this leaves married couples in a legal “no-man’s land” where they are forced to stay married, unless they both move back to where they were married and wait for a year. Of course, an attorney representative for one party says that neither women want to move to get a divorce.

This recent case is just an example of what is to come for same-sex couples who move to states where their legal marriage isn’t recognized. There is also a legal morass of other issues involving support and custody that cannot be resolved if states refuse to recognize same-sex marriage. Despite ideological or religious differences among residents, states may be forced to handle these cases simply to resolve legal inequities and disputes. In this case, both parties were from Alabama and have significant ties, including their homes and families.

Currently, 17 states recognize same-sex marriage. The laws vary and can produce very different results. In Mississippi, a petitioner is asking the court to recognize a California marriage and divorce. Similarly, a federal judge in Kentucky has struck down the state ban on recognizing same sex marriages. Under the current state law in Alabama, it appears that the judge had no choice but to throw out the case. At least one of the lawyers in the case is planning to appeal the decision, either by asking the judge to reconsider or by taking the case to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. Admittedly, the lawyers and the parties understand that they are initiating the process to begin to change the law.

Individuals who are faced with legal challenges should consult with an experienced advocate. The results of your case could have a significant impact on your legal rights, financial security and long-term interests.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Defining Equitable Distribution of Property in an Alabama Divorce, Oct. 14, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Pregnant and Contemplating Divorce? Contact Our Birmingham Family Law Attorneys. Aug. 30, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

New Custody Laws Focus on Fathers and Children

Posted in Alabama Child Custody & Visitation

With traditional gender roles shifting—more women in the workforce and more fathers staying at home—it is no surprise that the law is trying to catch up. In the event of a divorce, the law and courts have generally favored mothers when it comes to awarding custody. Now advocacy groups and legislators are taking action to protect fathers’ rights, especially those who have more active roles as parents.

dadAccording to research by the National Parents Organization, children do better emotionally and academically when they have active involvement from both parents. Children who are cut off from seeing their fathers or who do not have a balanced custody arrangement can suffer. Our Birmingham fathers’ rights attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients achieve custody arrangements that serve the best interests of their children.

A recent NPR article interviewed activists in favor of a change in laws to reflect the shift in fathers’ roles. According to child advocates, the most beneficial custody arrangements favor joint custody, rather than giving full custody to one parent. Children can benefit from sharing time with both parents, so long as parents are fit and there is no abuse, substance abuse or domestic violence. Alabama legislatures are turning to other states where measures have already passed to favor more shared custody, including Arizona, Arkansas, Florida and Minnesota. These new laws give equal rights to fathers at a time when more women are entering the workforce and more men are responsible for caregiving duties.

Despite advocacy groups in favor of this direction, two governors have struck down similar measures and other state legislators have failed to pass the bills. There are some groups that do not favor shared custody bills, primarily because they are seen as individual parents’ interests taking priority over the children. Opponents of such measures point to custody arrangements where children are forced to travel back and forth despite long-distances, after school activities, or even just the stability  enjoyed when living in one home.

In joint-custody cases, 50-50 time shares can be difficult for parents and create adjustment problems for children as well. A compromise in South Dakota removes the presumption of joint custody, but requires that courts weigh in on the logistics of a joint custody arrangement to ensure that parents get along in the presence of a child. The bill focuses on creating beneficial joint arrangements, but requires parents to look at their behavior for the benefit of the children.

Whether you are a father seeking shared custody or you are interested in exploring your custody rights in Alabama, it is important to have a clear understanding of the legal system. Courts will always weigh parental interests against the best interests of the child, so it is important to work with an advocate who can align those interests. Most custody arrangements are settled out of court, but if you are forced into a custody battle, remember that the results will be decided on a case by case basis.

Contact Birmingham divorce and family law attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

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