FATHER GRANTED CUSTODY AFTER MOTHER MOVES CHILD OUT OF STATE

Child custody is often one of the most heated battles in divorces. Both parents want time with their children, and sometimes one parent tries to keep the children away from the other parent. This happened to one Alabama father. Fortunately, the court recognized his right to spend time with his child and corrected an injustice that had occurred.

In 2013, the parents were granted joint legal and physical custody of their child. Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities to make decisions regarding the child. Joint physical custody means that each parent has frequent and substantial time with the child. The father was required to pay child support. Four years later, the mother filed a motion to modify the amount of child support she received.

During that hearing, the father presented evidence that the mother had moved the child to Georgia over his objection and without permission from the court. He further testified that the mother repeatedly ignored her obligation to work out visitation with the father. At the end of the hearing, the court awarded sole physical custody to the father. The mother appealed the decision. She argued that the Alabama court lacked jurisdiction to change the custody arrangement because Alabama was no longer the home state of the child.

Under Alabama Code 1975, once an Alabama court has made a decision regarding custody, that court and that court alone can make custody decisions until neither the child nor one parent have a significant connection to the state. Under the Alabama Parent-Child Relationship Act, the child maintains a significant connection to the state when the parents have previously been awarded joint legal and physical custody and one parent still lives in Alabama.

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals reasoned that because the father still lived in Alabama and had joint physical and legal custody, the Alabama court maintained the ability to decide on the custody modification.

She also argued that the father never filed a motion to change the custody arrangement, so the trial court should not have decided this issue. The Court of Civil Appeals dismissed this argument because she implicitly agreed to let the court decide the issue when the father brought it up and court and she did not object to it. The Court ended their decision by stating that there was enough evidence presented to justify giving the father custody of the child. They reasoned that the mother’s interference with the child’s relationship with the father was a good enough reason to give the father custody.

I am glad the father was able to get justice in this case. It did not seem fair to me that the mother could just move the child and keep the father away, especially since the court initially granted both parents substantial time with the child and the ability to make decisions concerning the child.

If you have joint legal and physical custody of your child, and your ex-spouse is not giving you your deserved time with your child, you may be entitled to get sole physical custody of your child. Joseph A. Ingram of INGRAM LAW LLC has the experience necessary to fight for your parental rights. Contact him today at 205-236-3997.

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