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Alabama child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this Alabama child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

Alabama child support laws provide guidelines designed to be in the best interest of the children. Unless the parents have a written agreement stating a different amount, as well as a reasonable explanation for the difference, child support will be based on a percentage of the disposable net income of the parent responsible for support.

Percentages of net income used to determine child support amounts in Alabama are outlined below. Other factors including second families, insurance and day care costs may also be considered.

Number of children to support from the marriage:

  • 1 = 20%
  • 2 = 25%
  • 3 = 30%
  • 4 = 35%
  • 5 = 40%
  • 6 = 45%

At what age does child support payments end?

Generally, at 19 years of age.

Alabama's custody guidelines:

Since January 1, 1997, Alabama officially favors joint custody if it is in the best interest of the child, and the parents agree. However, when parents disagree, custody may be granted to either parent with the following factors considered by the court in determining who is awarded custody:

  • the age and sex of the child;
  • the safety and well-being of the child;
  • the moral character of the parents;
  • the wishes of the child.

Alabama's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, a determination about who is going to provide medical health care insurance for the children and how uninsured medical bills will be paid is part of the marital settlement agreement set out in the divorce process. However, if a medical insurance plan is available through a parent’s employment, they are required to cover their children on this plan.

How permanent are the provisions for Alabama child support and custody ?

As in most states, court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to modification after a divorce if there is a substantial change in either of the parties’ circumstances. For instance, a substantial increase or decrease in income could be reason to modify a court order.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, you are not encouraged to enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Alabama has a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. Withheld support is sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments and once verified, sent to the custodial parent.

How does joint custody work?

Joint custody requires both parents to share the responsibilities for the children, and approve all major decisions related to the children.

It rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Usually one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation "at all times mutually agreed" upon, and failing an agreement, the terms of the state’s standard visitation policy is used.

The primary joint custodian typically retains the decision-making power to determine the child’s primary residence and school and to designate things such as the child’s primary physician.

How Alabama determines child visitation:

Alabama, like most states, use a standard visitation schedule that provides a safe and acceptable solution for those times when parents cannot mutually agree to a schedule of their own.

With some minor differences, the standard visitation schedule includes:

  • every other weekend;
  • summer visitation of 4 - 6 weeks;
  • alternating holidays.
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