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Co-parenting in Alabama: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

Child Custody and Parental Rights in Alabama

In Alabama, parental rights are legally divided into two components, physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is often further divided into joint, sole, or split custody, depending on how the arrangement and terms are decided. Legal custody gives the parent the right to make major decisions concerning their child’s life, such as decisions related to education, health care, and religion.


By law in Alabama, both parents have equal rights to the care and custody of the child unless a court determines otherwise. Additionally, there is some flexibility in the manner which co-parenting may look, as joint legal custody and joint physical custody arrangements are both available. Courts prefer joint custody when possible, though they do allow sole legal or physical custody in cases where joint custody is not in the best interest of the child.


Child Support Guidelines in Alabama

Child support is legally mandated in all states, including Alabama. Alabama is considered an “income shares” state, meaning that the court looks at both parents’ income as well as other factors when determining how much the non-custodial parent must pay in support.


Alabama’s Child Support Guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model, and can be found in Section 30-3-171 of the Alabama Code. According to this Model, the court will look at both parents’ gross income, the number of children involved, and the amount of time the child spends with each parent to determine child support.


When parents cannot come to an agreement on child support and one wants an increase, they must submit their individual income and expenses sheets to the court, who then reviews the information and determines the amount of child support to which each parent is entitled.


Co-parenting Expenses in Alabama

Co-parenting expenses, sometimes called “extraordinary expenses” are not covered by child support in Alabama. These expenses can include costs associated with activities, lessons, summer camp, or any number of things that fall outside the realm of regular child-rearing.


Alabama does not have any set laws regarding who is responsible for these costs, as it is generally considered a private agreement between the two parents. However, both parents are still legally responsible for ensuring that the costs of raising their child are adequately covered.


When it comes to making plans for co-parenting expenses, some co-parents may opt for a set arrangement such as a regular exchange of money to cover a certain percentage of the expenses. Others may take an informal approach and simply agree to split expenses on a case-by-case basis. Whatever the arrangement, it’s important to document the agreement in writing, so that both parties have something to refer to should a disagreement arise.


Parental Decisions in Alabama

Parental decisions are another source of possible disagreement in co-parenting arrangements. This includes decisions such as which school the child will attend, what religion they will practice, what level of health care they will receive, and ultimately, how they will be raised.


In Alabama, the court recognizes both parents’ rights to make decisions for their child, and will favor joint decision-making when possible. When joint decisions are not possible, the parent with primary custody will usually be granted sole decision-making authority in areas such as education, health care, and religion.


In cases involving parents that reside in different states, the court will typically defer to the state in which the child lives if the other parent does not exercise their parental rights. It is important to note that these decisions can vary from state to state, so it is important to check the laws of the state in which the parents reside for specific guidelines.



As demonstrated above, there are many complex issues that come with co-parenting in the state of Alabama. From custody, to child support, to co-parenting expenses and decision-making, navigating these issues can be difficult and stressful. By understanding the laws and regulations related to co-parenting in Alabama, parents can ensure that their rights and responsibilities are clearly understood and followed, and also take the necessary steps to ensure the best care and upbringing of their children.


Fact Check and Resources

In crafting this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:

  2. Alabama UCCJEA


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Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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