Alabama’s Child Support Guidelines have been amended, effective May 1, 2022, incorporating significant changes to the prior child support guidelines. Some of the most important key changes are as follows:
- All of the support amounts have increased.
- The cap for the maximum combined family income for both parents is now $30,000 per month instead of $20,000 per month.
- The guidelines take into consideration which parent is paying all or part of both health insurance and work-related child care, essentially giving that parent a credit for same; whereas the old guidelines only credited the parent who pays health insurance.
- The new guidelines include a subsistence-level self-support reserve amount to insure that paying parents who are below a certain income level still have income left to pay for their own basic needs.
Whether you have a pre-existing child support order, a divorce decree, or subsequent modification order, these changes to the child support law could potentially result in a decrease or increase of the child support amount from your prior order.
If you would like to discuss a possible child support modification, contact our office for a consultation.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party, the mediator, facilitates you and the opposing party, typically your spouse or the other parent, in negotiating a settlement in your case. There are several potential benefits to mediation.
Benefits of Mediation
Mediation is confidential. No one will know what goes on at the mediation except for the mediator, the parties and their attorneys. If you are able to negotiate a settlement, you do not have to air your dirty laundry in court.
You and your spouse or the other parent can negotiate a plan that is tailor-made for your needs and situation. You probably will not get that result from litigation.
If both parties are serious about resolving their differences out of court and coming to a settlement, mediation is typically far more cost-effective than protracted litigation.
Mediation does not have the adversarial nature of litigation and can often reduce the conflict level between the parties. If you have to co-parent with this person in the future, less conflict in divorce helps contribute to a better long-term working relationship. In addition, there is a wealth of information out there that indicates that children of divorce fare far better when the conflict between the parents is kept to a minimum.
Joint Custody is an arrangement where each parent has the children for equal (or close to equal) amounts of time. The most common schedule is that each parent has the children for one week at a time, typically exchanging the children on Fridays or Sundays. If you are considering a joint custody agreement with your soon-to-be former spouse or romantic partner, there are several factors you need to consider:
How do you make decisions?
Can you and the other parent truly cooperate and agree upon every major decision regarding the children? Maybe you can, but there is a distinct possibility you may not be able to do so for the many years to come. If this is a concern, you may need to name a “tiebreaker” parent for major decisions such as religion, education, medical/dental, and extracurricular activities.
Each parent is going to want holiday time with the children. There may also be holidays that are important to one parent but not the other parent. For example, one parent may have a big family reunion on July 4th each year, while the other parent does not have any special activities that day. It may make sense for the parent with the family reunion to have that holiday. Other holidays may need to be divided up in a way that is fair to both the parents and the children.
Work and Activity Schedules
You need to be sure that joint custody will work for the work and activity schedules for your family. If one parent works overnight every night, and you have young children, joint custody is probably not appropriate. If the children have an activity that is at 6pm every Wednesday, but Dad always works until 7pm on Wednesdays, he may not need to have them on Wednesdays if he can’t get them to their activity.
Communication and Cooperation
Above all, communication and cooperation are key items in a joint custody arrangement. Both parents will have regular responsibility for making sure schoolwork is completed, medications are taken, and uniforms are sent back and forth as needed. This will require frequent communication and cooperation among the parents. If you cannot put aside your differences enough to work together on this level, then joint custody may not be for you.
On an almost daily basis, clients and potential clients say to me, I can’t move out of the house because that’s abandonment, right? I recently spoke at a CLE for other attorneys, most of whom do not primarily practice family law, and some of the attorneys even harbored this misconception. Many people believe that you can forfeit your interest in the marital homeplace by moving out.
Ala. Code §30-2-1 lists several grounds for divorce, including the following at part (3): For voluntary abandonment from bed and board for one year next preceding the filing of the complaint.
As you can see, simply moving out of the marital home when divorce is imminent does not meet the definition of abandonment under this statute. That being said, there are many factors to consider when making the decision to move out, including but not limited to payment of household bills and custody of children, so it is essential to seek legal advice on your specific situation prior to packing your suitcase.