When your marriage ends and you and your spouse have children together, custody may be one of the most contentious issues in the divorce. However, agreeing on a shared parenting plan can help your children cope with this difficult time of transition.

If you live in Arizona, explore the state’s child custody process and prepare for your next steps.

Types of custody

The state strives to ensure that children continue to have regular contact with both parents provided they continue to act in the child’s best interest. Alabama distinguishes between legal custody and physical custody.

Physical custody describes where the child lives, while legal custody describes the right to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing. If one parent has sole legal custody, he or she will also have sole physical custody though the other parent may have visitation.

Considerations for custody

Joint custody is the standard in Alabama unless the court specifically finds that one parent fails to act in the child’s best interest. This includes a history of domestic violence, abuse or neglect. In the absence of these factors, the court will consider the following:

  • The child’s safety and well-being with each parent
  • The child’s age and gender
  • The child’s preference, if he or she is old enough to express a preference
  • The willingness of each parent to cooperate with the other under the guidance of a shared parenting plan
  • The child’s existing relationship with each parent
  • Each parent’s willingness and ability to support the child’s education, financial needs, moral growth and social and emotional development
  • The age, character and physical and mental health of each parent
  • The geographic location of each parent
  • Findings of an independent investigator or expert witness if applicable

In most cases, children thrive when they retain a relationship with both parents after divorce. Make every effort to work with your former spouse to support a healthy, successful co-parenting arrangement.