Getting and Keeping Custody of Your Children
Authored By: Legal Services Alabama
What can I do to get a Court to give me custody of my children?
- Be a good parent.
- Spend quality time with your children so they feel loved and cared for.
- When you have to leave your children alone with someone, make very sure that person is able to care for them. The person has to be old enough to know how to meet children's needs.
- Keep your children away from people who could hurt them. This includes people who use illegal drugs and people who drink too much.
- Do not leave your children with others for too long. You need some time to yourself away from work, but if you spend too little time with your children, it will look like you do not want them.
- Make sure your children see a dentist, see a doctor and, if they need one, see a counselor.
- Have your children get their shots, and keep records of the shots.
- Follow advice your children's doctor gives you.
- Talk to your children's teachers and other care givers. Learn how your children are doing in school. Learn about any problems your children have - and what you can do to help correct those problems.
- Make sure your children are safe, both physically and emotionally.
- Make sure your children always use a seat belt or child seat.
- Make sure your children and home are clean.
- Make sure your children eat healthy food.
- Be loving, understanding and patient when your children need discipline.
- Do not say bad things about your children's other parent when your children could hear.
- Do not yell, scream or curse around or at your children.
- Don't let someone of the opposite sex stay into the late hours or overnight while your children are home.
- Don't use illegal drugs. Remember the Court may have you take a drug test.
- Use alcohol only in moderation.
- If you drink, do not drive. Never drive with your children in the car after you have been drinking.
- Keep in mind that in a custody case, your children's other parent may have someone watching you.
- Someone may question your children to get information to use against you.
- Keep a journal or calendar making a record of visitation, calls from or to the other parent and of other things which will be important to your case.
If there's a Court order and my husband isn't following it, do I have to?
- Yes. You will do better in Court.
- If you think that your children would be harmed by following an order, call your lawyer or shelter worker about what you can do.
- If you do not have a lawyer or shelter worker, you can ask the court to set a hearing.
- Go to the clerk's office. Write down why you need a hearing.
- Or, you can wait until your next hearing, and then ask the judge what to do.
- It may be hard to get a hearing unless you can show an emergency.
- It is always a good idea to keep detailed notes and any other proof you can get if your spouse isn't following court orders, such as text messages, social media posts, phone records, photos, etc. Bring this with you to your next hearing.
Can I let my husband see my children more than the Court order says?
- This is usually a bad idea. You risk having your husband argue that he is doing more for the children.
- At the same time, you do not want the Court to think you are keeping your children from their father for no good reason.
- Never deny your husband the visitation ordered by the Court.
What if my husband is not seeing the children when it's time for his visitation?
- This will make it less likely that he will ever get custody.
- You should try to let your children keep a bond with their father.
What if the Court gave custody to my husband?
- Take advantage of any visitation which has been ordered by the Court.
- In addition, try to get your husband to agree to let you spend more time with your child.
What if I have to move?
- You usually must give your husband notice.
- Read about moving when you have custody or visitation rights.
If there's no Court order yet, what should I do?
- If the children are with you, be careful about letting your husband see them. He may not return them.
- If your children are staying with your husband, take advantage of any visitation you can get.
AlabamaLegalHelp.org offers legal information, not legal advice. This website provides information on your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call toll-free 1-866-456-4995. You can also apply online HERE.