In the past when couples divorced, Alabama courts typically awarded the mother custody of the children. The father was usually given visitation rights — often limited to only a couple of weekends each month.
This was not just the custom here in Alabama, but all over the United States. Then, in recent years, the pendulum started to swing back in the other direction. Now, courts typically award joint custody to both parents and allow the children to spend roughly half of the time with each parent.
Don’t wage wars you can’t win
No matter how angry you are at your spouse for the breakup of your marriage, it is not fair to deprive your children of time with their other parent unless that parent has been neglectful or abusive to them in the past.
Launching a no-holds-barred battle against shared custody is not only expensive, it can also prove counter-productive. The court may view you as acting punitively to punish your ex-spouse for past marital transgressions. In some cases, they may rule against you and award more parenting time with the other parent to avoid such situations.
Learn to manage your disagreements
Co-parenting is most effective when parents can reach accord on matters both large and small. For instance, suppose that you are Catholic and your ex-spouse is Pentecostal. Both of you may have very strong ideas about which religion you want to expose your children to. But even with issues like this, there is usually room for a workable compromise.
You and your ex can share custody and share both religions with the kids. They can attend mass with you on the weekends they spend at your home and services with their other parent when they are in their custody. Alternatively, they could attend weekly mass with you and go to Wednesday night services at the Pentecostal church.
When to dig in your heels and fight for sole custody
There are situations where a parent has not just the right but the duty to fight for sole custody. If your ex has a problem with alcohol or drugs, is abusive or neglectful to the children, it is up to you to intercede and seek sole custody and perhaps even supervised visitation.
Your family law attorney can provide guidance and advice at all stages of the custody negotiations.