Child custody is always a serious issue in divorce cases, but those issues are often complicated when half-siblings in a blended family are involved. What some clients overlook is the powerful argument that can be made not to split up children in the home, even half-siblings.
How child custody issues are typically decided
When a court considers the issue of child custody in a divorce, the decision is based on the well-known standard of the “best interests of the child.” Another principle that is generally followed is to avoid separating siblings unless there is some compelling reason to do otherwise. This issue becomes somewhat complicated, though, when there are half-siblings in the home as well.
Issues that arise with blended families
When there are half-siblings from a prior marriage in the home of a couple seeking a divorce, these blended family situations can have more complicated issues when it comes to custody decisions. In Alabama, however, the courts have held as follows:
When resolving a custody dispute, particularly in these days of blended families, a trial court should not perfunctorily separate half siblings without giving sufficient consideration to the best interests of the children at issue.
AB v. JB, 40 So. 3d 723 (Ala. Civ. App. 2009)
What does this mean for your custody dispute?
A parent who has children in the home from a prior relationship could have a good argument for custody, especially if the children have close relationships with their half-siblings. In other words, in situations where the parents may be on equal footing on the issue of custody, it is possible for the court to determine that the children should stay in the same home as the half-siblings.
If you have questions regarding child custody in blended families or any other family law matters, contact us online or by calling Brad J. Latta at (205) 823-1223.