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Alabama Law: Parental Rights and Responsibilities

Parental Rights in Alabama: What Do You Need to Know

Parental rights and responsibilities are the grey area for some people. Though parental law includes many essential aspects, one needs to know.

Parental law of Alabama determines rights and responsibilities of the parents. The relationship between a child and a parent form the basis of parental law. Read the article to find out more about what parental rights and responsibilities a parent in Alabama has and how they are protected.

Establishing Paternity in Alabama

Establishment of paternity is the first step towards being a legal father to a child. Establishing paternity grants child legal benefits. The kid will be able to receive legal child support, social security and have access to the medical history of a father.

To acknowledge the child legally, a parent has to establish paternity. The simplest way to do that is to sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP). VAP is the form parents sign in the hospital after child’s birth. Then court submits the form and establishes the paternity officially.

But, person who is the father according to the birth certificate, can dispute paternity in Alabama. To dispute paternity, one can request DNA test. If the test proves the person isn’t a biological father to a child, the paternity won’t be established.

Birth parents of a child are allowed to seek custody and regular visitation. This doesn’t depend on the fact whether parents were married or not. Handling cases of child custody, family court system in Alabama follows the principle of best interests of a child. This principle includes various factors.

  • Needs of a child
  • Relationship between child and mother/father
  • Living conditions at residences of each parent
  • Desire and ability of both parents to care for the child
  • Desire and ability of both parents to support the child financially
  • Current of past domestic violence or abuse cases

The court pays attention to all the factors that may affect the well-being of a child. In result of many child custody cases, one of the parents is the custodial parent, once the other one – noncustodial. The child lives and spends the majority of time with the custodial parent. Noncustodial parent performs regular visitation and pays child support. The amount of child support is decided by the court.

A custodial parent has a right to obtain regular financial help aimed at upbringing and care for the child. Custodial parent can be either father or mother. If custodial parent is a father, he has the same right to receive monetary help. Child support covers clothing, food, medical care and other expenses.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

Undoubtedly, father is the important person in child’s life. If mother doesn’t tolerate father of a child, she can’t stop visitation if it had been allowed by the court.

Paternity establishment allows both mother and father to make significant decisions concerning education of the kid, health care, and other issues. Both parents have equal rights when it comes to the decision-making process.

After paternity is established, mother gains some benefits. If mother were raising child alone, the court order would rule that father support both child and mother financially. This order also applies to medical coverage. So, when child needs medical services, he/she will be entitled to father’s health coverage.

How kids benefit form paternity establishment? It’s not difficult to guess how much paternity establishment influence the child. One parent can’t always provide the feel of security and safety. When kid relies on both parents for support and maintenance, it is easier for him/her to stay confident in everyday life. Paternity also gives the child a right to inherit father’s estate.

Termination of Parental Rights in Alabama

Termination of parental rights isn’t always as simple as it seems. Though, when a parent expresses no desire and intentions to care for the child, it is possible to terminate parental rights and release the parent of liability.

In Alabama, termination of parental rights occurs on the voluntary or involuntary basis. Termination frequently happens in adoption cases. When one of the parents raises a child alone, without any support of father/mother of the child, person who neglects his/her parental responsibilities may be terminated of parental rights.

Signing over parental rights in Alabama as well in any other state of USA means that the biological father or mother will no longer be responsible for actions of the kid and take part in the decision-making process regarding life of the child.

Parent who isn’t involved in raising a child is a non custodial parent. Father or mother that poses a threat to the kid can also be eligible for termination of parental rights.

  • Voluntary termination. Voluntary termination occurs when a parent agrees to be deprived of parental rights and responsibilities. The termination ends the relationship between a child and a parent.Termination can be possible only considering the best interest of a child. Parent, who terminates parental rights voluntarily, will no longer be involved in upbringing own child and making any decisions regarding child’s life and health. Voluntary termination even deprives the parent of visitation.

    Adoption process often precedes voluntary termination. The case, when biological parent wants to terminate parental rights and another person, is willing to support the kid financially and emotionally, is a vivid example of voluntary termination.

    Another consequence of termination is the abolition of the obligation to pay child support. Biological parent, whose rights were terminated, no longer obliged to support the child financially.

    Voluntary termination of parental rights is not an easy process. There are cases when parents want to terminate their rights only to stop paying child support. Only by providing evidence and proving once points in the court one can be deprived of parental rights.

  • Involuntary Termination. This type of termination occurs when a noncustodial parent doesn’t agree on termination of parental rights. Courts of Alabama ensure that every biological parent establishes healthy relationship with own kid. But when parent fails to support, encourage and protect the child, the court has no choice but to terminate parental rights.Even if the parent doesn’t want to be deprived of parental rights, the case may be resolved not in favor of such parent.

Grounds for Termination Of Parental Rights

No court can deprive a person of parental rights for no reason. To terminate one’s rights, it is required to provide solid evidence a person is unable to care for the child. Court will consider specific grounds that may facilitate the decision to terminate parental rights.

  • Abandonment of the child
  • Long-term mental/emotional illness that makes a parent unable to raise a child.
  • Long-term alcohol/substance addiction.
  • Abuse or neglect
  • Sexual offense
  • Failure to support and maintain contact with the child
  • Long-term incarceration caused by the felony conviction

The last ground doesn’t always cause the termination. Incarcerated parents, whose kids are held in foster care, aren’t always deprived of father’s rights. But when parent doesn’t attempt to take part in assistance programs, court may terminate parental rights when the kid is in foster care.

How Parental Rights Are Terminated in Alabama?

To decide whether the person should be deprived of father’s rights, the state of Alabama applies two-pronged test.

Firstly, the court decides whether there are possible grounds for termination. If the grounds are found, the court proceeds to next step. Further actions include the examination of possible alternatives to the termination.

Are there any exceptions to father’s rights termination? In most cases, if the child is held in foster care for 15 months of the recent 22, the Alabama Department of Human Resources files a petition for termination of parental rights. But there are some exceptions, which exclude the termination:

  • A relative takes care for the child.
  • Filling a petition won’t be in the best interest of a kid.
  • Department has not ensured necessary services to guarantee the safe return of the child to home.

How to terminate parental rights in Alabama? To understand the termination process, look briefly at following points.

  1. Filling a petition. Termination of parental rights starts with filing a petition. The person should fill in the petition in the office of family court clerk.
  2. Hearing at court. Only court will decide whether to terminate one’s parental rights. But if you are interested in termination, you should provide solid arguments on why you think a biological parent has to be deprived of parental rights. Make sure all possible alternatives to termination are not valid.
  3. Termination visit. Termination visit with birth parents is sometimes desirable. After termination, a parent won’t be able to visit a child. But sometimes, visit is allowed only because it’s best for the child.

Alabama Divorce Cases: Parental Rights

When it comes to a divorce, both parents have equal rights of custody. They can perform their parental duties, support and maintain the child and care for the child equally. But, court has another task to fulfill. The state on Alabama has to deal with issues of custody and visitation precisely to present the decision considering what is best for a child.

Taking all the factors in the account, Alabama law developed a concept called ‘joint custody,’ which are to fulfill parental rights and responsibilities until the other decision is made.

Joint Custody and Child Support

Custody can be of two types – legal and physical. Legal custody deals with the right to be involved into and make decisions regarding child’s welfare in different aspects of the life of a kid. Physical custody determines the place where the child will live and spend most of his/her time.

Separating these two types of custody is important. One parent may be chosen as primary physical custodian, but it doesn’t mean this parent cannot be the legal custodian of a child.

      • Joint Legal Custody. Joint legal custody is the type of custody that prescribes both parents fulfill their parental rights equally and have a right to make decisions about the welfare of their child. Joint legal custody allows parents to be involved in every aspect of their kid’s life.Divorce also results in what is called a “tiebreaker provision.” This provision grants one of the parents with a decision-making authority when two parents can’t reach the agreement and resolve an issue regarding their child’s life. Court chooses the parent whose last word will prevail in the decision-making process. This is usually the parent who can make the decisions considering best interests of a child.
      • Joint Physical Custody. This type of custody allows both parents share physical custody of the child equally. Joint physical custody makes it possible for the kid to spend equal amount of time with both parents. This means spending 2 hours a day with a mother; a child will then spend 2 hours with a father.But Alabama statute claims that joint custody can’t be equal physical custody. It is impossible in life to calculate the exact amount of time spent with the child. In result, one of the parents may enjoy more time with kid that the other.

        This case is typical for joint physical custody. Due to work schedules, majority of parents can’t find enough time to spend with child. In this case, parents agree on comfortable hours for both of them. They choose when it’d be convenient for them to visit the kid to spend quality time and exercise their parental rights.

Joint custody and child support are connected with arrangement with joint physical custody. It was already mentioned that custodial parent supports the child financially. In practice, the non-custodial parent is the one who bears the financial burden.

To maintain a suitable environment for the growth and development of the child, the responsibilities should be divided for both parents. Thus, one parent often raises and maintains the child emotionally. The other parent then supports own kid financially.

But there are cases when both parents support and maintain child emotionally and financially. The kid then spends equal amount of time with both father and mother, and both of parents have equal physical custody of the child. In this case, true physical custody is realized.

Such situation implies that child lives with father and mother equal amount of time meaning that each parent covers adequate financial maintenance of the child. Courts of Alabama agree on such scenario only if both of parents consider best interests of a child.

Joint Custody Alternatives

Speaking generally, joint legal custody is the common consequence of the divorce settlements. The tie-breaking provision makes parental rights and responsibilities clear for both parents. Under some circumstances, the court can grant primary legal custody of a child to only one parent. This parent will then have decision-making authority.

The alternative for joint custody is sole physical custody of the child. Parent with sole physical custody is called primary physical custodian. The other parent is designated as non custodial. Noncustodial parent obtains a visitation schedule, which outlines how much time during a week the parent will have a kid in their custody. The schedule specifies where the kid will spend weekends, holidays, vacations and other events.

Court is to ensure the noncustodial parent performs regular visitation according to the schedule. But this schedule can be altered. Taking into account working hours, residence of the parent and other conditions, the court will alter the schedule to be convenient to both parent and the child.

Although the schedule sets the time and dates for visitation, it doesn’t mean it is obligatory for the noncustodial parent to follow these terms unconditionally. The parent will receive weekly or monthly schedule to plan visitation in advance. But in case parent couldn’t devote time to see the child, the visit can always be postponed to a further date.

When a married couple is in the middle of a divorce, it’s difficult to handle not only for parents but also children. Custody arrangement requires profound consideration. Both parents should cooperate to elaborate a custody decision that would be best for the child.

Delegation of Parental Rights in Alabama

Delegation of parental authority form is a legal document that allows parents in Alabama to assign a person who will temporarily be responsible for care for the child and participate in decision-making process.

A parent has to sign the form in front of a notary public. Then delegation has to be recorded in the local office of a probate Judge. The parent can delegate the authority no longer than for one year.

To delegate the parental authority in Alabama, you need to:

      1. Download the form. Type “delegation of powers by parent(s) form” in the search bar and find the form in results.
      2. Add name of the parent and child. Also, enter age of the minor child and insert address.
      3. State the authority. You should state describe precisely what authority you want to delegate. Insert the description after the words “of consent over said child.”
      4. Sign the form. The filled form then has to be signed in the presence of notary public. Note that the form represents the delegation only for one child. If you want to delegate powers for two children, you will have to fill in and notarize two delegation forms.

Alabama Abortion Law Governing Minors

Alabama is one of the states, which have the strictest abortion laws. Twenty-one states of America require minors to obtain permission from parents to end a pregnancy. Not long time ago it was prohibited for teens to get an abortion without the consent of her parents. Signing a consent form a parent or a legal guardian admits they don’t object to abortion of the teen.

But it is clarified in the statute that minor can address the court to receive the waiver. The waiver allows teen to end pregnancy without parental consent. But it is possible only with two exceptions.

      1. The minor is mature and well-informed to end her pregnancy by having an abortion without parental consent.
      2. The decision on the abortion is made considering best interests of the minor.

The precedent of minor receiving a waiver occurred last year on August 16th. Teen request a court for a waiver. In result of a hearing, judge admitted the minor was mature enough to end her pregnancy without parental consent. But it was stated that abortion wouldn’t be in the best interest of the teen. So, the court denied the request.

But the lower court decided then to grant the teen with a waiver. Because of the fact, minor met the first condition it was not necessary to meet the second too.

Parental consent laws are considerable restrictions for minors. They help teens to prevent harmful consequences of abortions and save the innocent life. Poll shows the society’s reaction to parental consent laws. More than 70% of Americans support such law and find the imposed restrictions necessary for immature teens.

Many abortion activists help minors overcome restrictions. But abortion is not always safe for the teen. Many girls face physical side effects after abortion and regret their decision over some time.

But responsibility in the majority of cases lies on parents. Talking with your kid about consequences of unprotected sex you can prevent the abortion. Some parents manage to influence their kids’ life choices. But it’s difficult to be around 24/7.

To ease parenting and understand children better, parents of Alabama city use parental controls apps.

Parental Controls in Alabama: How can they help?

Parental control software helps custodial and noncustodial parents create safe environment for their child. Monitoring apps like mSpy provide parents with detailed information on when and with whom their kids spend time.

What activity can you record with mSpy? The mobile app copies private and group messages, apps activity, GPS location and call logs. Parents will get an extensive overview of the content of their kids’ smartphones. Being aware of what your children see on the Internet you will be ready to protect them from online threats and dangers.

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