When it comes to deciding on custody, Alabama courts are always first and foremost guided by the best interests of the child. It is presumed that the best interests of the child are met when the child has contact with both parents, provided that doing so does not compromise his/her safety.
The most common custody arrangement is joint custody. However, in Alabama, it is distinguished in two types: joint legal and joint physical custody. Joint legal implies that both parents have the same rights when making important decisions in a child's life, including education and health care. With joint physical custody, both parents have the right to spend a significant amount of time with the child, though not necessarily equal.
The decision on custody is influenced by many factors, including but not limited to the age and sex of the child, child safety, the wishes of the child, age, the physical and mental health of the parents, the parents' preferences regarding custody, evidence of domestic violence in the family, the relationship between the child and each parent, the living conditions of each parent, and more.