Many people think that divorce is the only reason to hire an attorney that specializes in family law.
The truth is that family law attorneys handle much more than just Alabama divorces. They also handle cases from child support enforcements to adoptions.
If you are searching for family lawyers in Birmingham, Alabama, please contact Dagney Johnson Law Group to schedule a consultation. We have years of experience helping Birmingham area clients with all their family law needs.
Types of Family Law Issues
Family law attorneys can represent you in a wide variety of legal matters. Dagney Johnson Law Group is a full-service family law firm. We provide comprehensive legal services in the following areas.
Uncontested and Contested Divorce
If you have decided to file for divorce or you’ve been served with papers, we can help you through everything that comes next. Numerous important issues need to be worked out before the judge will finalize your divorce. These issues can include property division, alimony, child custody, and child support.
If you and your spouse agree on all outstanding matters, you can proceed with an uncontested divorce. Even in uncontested divorces, you should let an attorney review your proposed settlement agreement.
If you are unable to reach an agreement on everything, you will need to proceed with a contested divorce. A contested divorce doesn’t necessarily have to be adversarial. When you retain Dagney Johnson Law Group, we will work tirelessly to quickly and effectively resolve your outstanding issues, so your divorce can be finalized as soon as possible.
An attorney can help you with child custody issues as they develop during your divorce or in a separate action. Decisions involving child custody are among the most emotional and contentious issues in family law cases.
Determining child custody involves deciding who will have legal custody and physical custody of your children. Legal custody deals with who will make important decisions on your child’s behalf. These decisions include medical care, religion, and education.
Physical custody determines where your children will be spending the majority of their time. This means where your children will reside. If the court awards sole physical custody to one parent, then the non-custodial parent may have visitation rights.
The law prefers that both parents maintain a relationship with their children. For this reason, family law courts in Alabama try to award joint custody in cases where it makes sense. However, if one parent is better equipped to care for the children than the other, or if the parents’ physical distance or ability to cooperate makes joint physical custody unworkable, the judge may opt to award sole custody to one parent.
In Alabama, child support is typically calculated using a specific formula. The Alabama Child Support Guidelines have schedules that are applied to each parent’s income. This schedule provides the judge with a monthly child support figure.
Couples have the authority to choose their own support amount, subject to court approval. Judges also have the discretion to deviate from the schedule if the situation warrants. Deviations are handled on a case-by-case basis, depending on individual circumstances.
Most Alabama courts won’t award alimony unless the marriage is classified as long-term and one spouse was financially dependent on the other for the duration of the marriage. Often alimony awards are limited to a defined period of time. The idea is to provide support to the spouse while they are going back to school, finishing training, or whatever else is necessary to help them reenter the job market.
When deciding on an alimony award, the courts also factor in each spouse’s earning power and the standard of living you enjoyed while married. If you’re filing for a fault-based divorce, the judge may consider your spouse’s wrongdoing when deciding on an amount.
Next to child custody, property division is one of the most contested aspects of a divorce. Alabama follows the legal theory of equitable distribution for property division in a divorce. This theory means that all marital assets and debts will be divided in a manner that’s fair and equitable. It does not mean that assets are split down the middle 50/50.
If you need assistance in establishing paternity, our family lawyers can help. The easiest way to establish paternity is for both parents to sign an acknowledgment of paternity. If there is a question as to who the father is, you may consider a DNA test before signing the acknowledgment of paternity. The acknowledgment allows the father’s name to be added to the birth certificate.
In situations where one parent refuses to cooperate, you can have the matter decided through the court. Start by filing an administrative procedure to have the Alabama Department of Human Resources conduct a DNA test. Then, you must file a Petition to Establish Paternity to obtain a court order. The court order establishing paternity allows the father to be added to the child’s birth certificate.
Once you establish paternity, you can reach a stipulation or seek a court order regarding child support, custody, and visitation.
Same-sex marriage is relatively new under Alabama law. However, numerous couples have married in other states but are Alabama residents. Same-sex couples now have the same rights as other couples, which includes the right to file for divorce.
Unfortunately, there are unique challenges in some same-sex divorces, especially if children are involved. For example, if one parent is not the biological parent and has not completed the proper adoption paperwork, their ability to seek custody or visitation will be limited.
Another challenge with same-sex divorce is determining when the marriage began under Alabama law. Since Alabama has only recognized same-sex marriage for a few years, there are special circumstances that must be considered. For example, if you lived together as if you were married for many years prior to the Alabama law changing, some of that time may count toward the length of your marriage. The marriage start date is important because it can play a role in the property settlement agreement. Alimony payments are also directly linked with the amount of time your marriage lasted.
Because there are unique circumstances with a same-sex divorce, it’s even more important to retain an experienced Alabama family law attorney.
Adoption can be one of the greatest experiences for families. It can also involve complicated legal issues and procedures. If you are considering adopting a child, you need a skilled family lawyer who has experience with adoption cases. Adoptions require a significant amount of administrative work. It’s important that your attorney knows the right people to contact and the necessary procedures; otherwise, your adoption may be delayed.
There are many different types of adoption that family lawyers can assist with. These include interstate or international adoptions, grandparent or stepparent adoptions, foster child adoptions, and military adoptions.
While the family law issues discussed above are some of the most common, your family lawyer can also handle other legal matters you may not have even considered, such as:
- Prenuptial agreements,
- Post-divorce judgment modifications,
- Grandparents’ rights, and
- Parental relocation.
Whatever your needs, the family lawyers at Dagney Johnson Law Group can provide you with essential advice and assistance.
How Family Lawyers in Birmingham, Alabama, Can Help
At Dagney Johnson Law Group, we understand how emotional and stressful family law matters can be. While it may not be easy to keep a level head when child custody or finances are at stake, we can help you work through it.
A good family lawyer is one who listens to your concerns. You want someone who understands what you need and want, but who can still remain objective. When negotiations get tough, a good attorney will hold strong and be able to argue your points.
At Dagney Johnson Law Group, our goal is to resolve your case quickly and efficiently. A good family lawyer isn’t someone who will unnecessarily drag your case out for months for the sake of extra billable hours. Our job is to help you prepare for the next phase in your life, not keep you stuck in a lengthy legal battle with your ex.
If you need assistance with an Alabama family matter, contact Dagney Johnson Law Group today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us evaluate your case and explain how we can help you work toward a favorable outcome.