Staying Focused On Custody Decisions In The Best Interests Of Children
Even if the rest of the divorce process is civil, child custody matters can easily become acrimonious. We all love our children and don’t want to lose any time with them, but in our attempts to advocate for them, we need to be careful not to expose them to unnecessary fighting and tension.
This is a responsibility we take seriously at Lusk Law Firm, LLC. We believe that you can “divide the family without dividing the family,” so to speak. Our attorney, Robert Lusk, has 34 years of family law experience. He is very knowledgeable about local courts, and even played an influential role in revising Alabama family law statutes. He is committed to helping you seek custody solutions that protect the best interests of your children as well as your relationship with them.
Understanding The Two Types Of Custody
In Alabama, courts distinguish between legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is a parent’s decision-making authority over major aspects of their children’s lives, including religion, education and health care. Physical custody (or residential custody) refers to which parent is physically with the children and when.
Courts in Alabama can award physical and legal custody in various ways. In many cases, if there is any degree of shared physical custody, both parents will retain legal custody. And of course, physical custody can be awarded solely to one parent (sole custody), equally to both parents (joint custody), or something in between.
A Negotiated Agreement Is Preferred, When Possible
You know your children far better than a family law judge does. Therefore, you should play a key role in creating the custody agreement and parenting plan. If you and your spouse can negotiate peacefully, you can likely create a parenting plan that is customized and fair to all parties, and that leaves you in more control over the outcome. If it meets the best interests of your children, a judge is likely to approve it.
Mediation can be a highly effective tool for creating a parenting plan/custody agreement with your spouse. Mr. Lusk is a registered mediator and has helped many clients through this valuable process.
If you and your spouse cannot negotiate an agreement, the matter will need to be litigated. The ultimate custody determinations will be left up to a judge, typically with detailed input from a court-ordered guardian ad litem. This is an attorney specially assigned to protect the best interests of your children in custody matters.
Although litigated custody leaves both parents with less control over the outcome, Mr. Lusk is well-equipped to advocate for you through this process. He helped shape the certification requirements for guardians ad litem in Alabama, and also trains attorneys wishing to take on this role, so he has a keen understanding of what things the guardian ad litem looks at and what factors the judge considers in deciding custody disputes. Just as importantly, he is a skilled trial lawyer if you need to stand your ground in contested custody proceedings.
Custody Can Be Modified As Time Goes On
As your children grow and their needs or the parents’ circumstances change, it is possible to petition the court for changes to the original custody order. Sometimes the issue is forced by one parent’s need or desire to relocate far away from the other. No matter what sparked the need for change, our firm can help you petition the court for a modification (or argue against a relocation or modification).
Discuss Your Options With An Attorney Who Listens And Cares
From our offices in Mobile and Fairhope, Lusk Law Firm serves clients throughout Alabama. To discuss your legal options with an attorney who has more than three decades of experience, call us at 251-471-8017 or reach us online.