Getting a Divorce in Alabama: Part IV (Terms of the Divorce)
Obtaining a divorce requires consideration of several issues. The division of marital property and the assigning of marital debts are necessary terms of any divorce. In Alabama the division of marital property must be “equitable” or fair. If there are children of the marriage, then custody, visitation and child support are also important issues that must be addressed. Many of these matters can be resolved by agreement between the parties. Otherwise, the court must be involved.
The marital agreement is the document that sets out the terms of the divorce. If the parties can come to this agreement on their own, a trial will not be necessary. The agreement is instead presented to the judge, and if approved the divorce is granted. The marital agreement is then made a part of the divorce decree. If the parties cannot agree, a trial will be conducted and the court will determine the terms of the divorce.
Child Custody and Visitation Rights
The court determines the custody of any minor children of the marriage if the parties cannot agree. This determination is made based on the following factors:
- best interest and welfare of the children,
- any fault of the parties,
- character and conduct of each parent,
- age and sex of the children,
- past care and custody of the children,
- economic conditions of the parents,
- preference of the children, and
- any custody agreements between the parties.
There are primarily two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody is the legal authority to make major decisions on behalf of the child, and physical custody determines where the child will live the majority of the time. The parent who is not awarded custody will be given the right to visitation.
The non-custodial parent remains responsible for contributing to the support of the child. The court will determine the amount to be paid, using the Child Support Guidelines adopted by the Alabama Supreme Court. Child support is paid until the child reaches the age of majority, with only certain exceptions.
If you have any questions about divorces, child custody, support or visitation, please contact our office at (205) 988-5570.