Child Support Modification in Alabama
Standards used in Alabama Child Support Modifications
Alabama uses two court cases to consider child custody modification petitions. The Ex parte McLendon and Ex parte Couch cases. Usually, if a case involves a parent with primary custody then the McLendon standard applies. If a case involves an existing joint-custody agreement, the Couch standard applies.
A few conditions must be met to justify a custody modification using the McLendon standard.
- There has been a material or substantial change in circumstances affecting child custody;
- Changing the custody order is in your child’s best interests; and
- The benefits of altering the custody order outweigh the inherent disruption that results from the change.
The Couch standard is a bit less stringent thus it could be easier to meet. Under the Couch standard, the parent needs only proof that the modification in custody is in the best interest of the child.
Factors the courts consider
The golden standard, that’s to say the standard that matters first to the courts, whether they are using the McLendon standard or the Couch standard, is the welfare of the child or children. The court considers this when reviewing the factors a parent presents when petitioning a modification. Factors that might influence a modification hearing are as follows:
- Child’s (or children’s) age
- Parent’s lifestyles
- Preferences of the child
- Current parental involvement
- Request from the child
- Financial situation of a parent has changed
- Change in the location of a parent (moving, deployment, etc)
- Change in child’s living conditions
A parent has the right to submit evidence to backup or refute the above stated factors. It’s important to note that in Alabama, unlike in other states, a child can have a slight say on a modification. For example, in Georgia, if a child is 11 years old and requests a modification, the courts will take this information into consideration. If a child is 14 years of age then the courts will take the request into consideration more seriously. Alabama does not have a specified age for this but a child can have a say.
Contact Us Today
If you are considering a child support modification in Alabama, legal representation is highly recommended. Call LaPlante, Merritt, Faulkner, Wilson & Clay, LLC at (256) 236-7354 today to arrange a consultation.