Monthly Archives: March 2013

What is Joint Legal Custody?

What is joint legal custody?  In a divorce this is a common term.  It is used to describe the parties’ legal standing regarding the minor children.

Unlike sole custody where one parent keeps all control legal and custodial over the minor child or children; joint custody allows both parents to be on a somewhat equal footing regarding the minor children.  In a joint custody arrangement both parents enjoy being able to speak with doctors, school teachers, counselors, etc and are able to have access to medical and school records.  The actual physical address of the minor child will lie with one of the parents and the other will have visitation.  It is an important tool used to keep both parents involved with the minor children as much as possible so that they may keep the bonds made with the children intact.… Read the rest

The Purpose of Bonds in Criminal Cases

Many times clients are confused about the purpose of a bond in a criminal law case.  A bond amount is set by the court in each case and it is set to act as a surety that the defendant will appear in court for all future court dates.

Bonds in Alabama may be made by a professional bonding company which usually charges a percentage of the total bond amount.  A cash bond may be posted in some cases if it is affordable. The last method is called property bond.  Property bonds are made only if an individual who wishes to make another person’s bond owns property free and clear in an amount equal to twice the amount of the bond.

If a bond is made by a professional bonding company then you are paying for that service and the money you pay to them is not refundable.  If you post … Read the rest

Divison of Assets in Alabama Divorce Cases

When considering divorce in Alabama one of the first things to consider after children and custody is the division of marital assets.  Alabama is not a 50/50 state it is court of equity and will seek to make an equitable distribution of marital assets.  This is not 50/50 because factors can be considered that may make the equitable distributions more or less than equal.

For instance, if one spouse committed adultery during the marriage, that is a fault based ground to be considered by the court in the division of property.  That fact could result in a greater percentage of the marital property going to the unoffending spouse.

The same can be said of marital debt.  If any fault based grounds are proven during a divorce then the court may in its discretion assign the offending spouse a greater share of the marital debt while maintaining an equitable division.… Read the rest

Tuscaloosa Man Sentenced in Child Pornography Case

Upon being convicted for one count of possessing child pornography obtained over the Internet, a Tuscaloosa man was sentenced by a Federal judge to nearly six years in prison. Bruce Henry, a 37-year old Tuscaloosa resident, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court before being sentenced to 70 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. In its sentencing memorandum, the U.S, Attorney said Henry victimized specific children and harmed society by his illegal conduct, noting that individuals who view and possess child pornography enable and support its continued production.

Henry plead guilty to possessing more than 300 images of child pornography that he obtained over the Internet over a two-year span, which depicted real children engaged in sexually explicit conduct. U.S. Attorney Vance distinguished the case from less egregious violations: “This defendant did not just look at a few images once in his life, but used technology for … Read the rest

Household Items and Fixtures

Divorces are about more than just alimony and child support.  A divorce must totally separate the assets of the marriage.  Many people pose the question of how do we know what items can be removed from the home and what stays with the home.

This issue revolves around the idea of household goods vs. fixtures attached to the martial home.  It’s a seemingly simple issue that can evolve into an impasse ending up requiring a court hearing to settle it.  Generally speaking attached fixtures will stay with the home as may some permanent structures that may have been built on the property.  What about things in the home such as paintings, lighting fixtures, bathroom fixtures etc.  These may seem trivial but many times these items can be very expensive or have some other value to the client.

The best way to approach this issue during a settlement or mediation … Read the rest

Attorney Advice on Child Custody

Many clients seek out an attorney to give them advice on child custody.  All too often this is after the initial divorce of the parties and therefore certain conditions do apply.

Since Alabama no longer recognizes a “tender years” approach to determining custody both parties are presumed equally competent parents and capable of having custody of the children.  Thus the “best interest of the child/children” standard is applied.  Alabama Courts do not favor a true shared custody arrangement in that it fails to be feasible with school age children and numerous appellate decisions discourage the concept due to it not being in the best interests of the children despite what the parent’s desire.

In the case of modification of custody post-divorce an additional standard is applied.  This standard was forged in an actual appellate case and has become known as the McClendon standard or rule.  The McClendon standard still … Read the rest

Can Child Support be Modified?

The answer is yes it can upon a change in either parties income of 10% up or down.  If a substantial amount of time has passed a review can be requested to see if a modification is warranted.

A person paying child support cannot make an agreement with the person receiving child support to pay an amount less than what was ordered by the court.  Any changes or modifications must be done through the court or they will not be valid and the person paying support will be responsible for any arrearages that came out of the original order.

A modification requires a new court filing fee and an attorney to represent you.  Current income figures from both parties must be supplied as well as insurance costs or daycare cost related to the minor children.  All this information will be applied to the child support guidelines and a new amount … Read the rest

When is an award of alimony appropriate?

Alabama does not have a really hard and fast rule concerning alimony except that it can be requested in a divorce case.

There are two types of alimony, alimony in gross and periodic alimony.  Alimony in gross is a lump sum payment whereas periodic alimony is not vested and may terminate upon the occurrence of certain contingencies.

Periodic alimony is the most common form and is concerned and based in the law to serve as a tool to help preserve the status quo of the parties.  In times gone by this was usually awarded to the wife to assist her in maintaining the lifestyle for which she was accustomed.  Today it could go to either party depending on each person’s income and the circumstances of the divorce.

There are considerations that are taken into account when a court is deciding whether or not alimony is appropriate.  Some of those are … Read the rest