As a father of three children, Scott Harwell, the owner of Harwell Law Firm LLC, understands the importance of children and that your children are the most important aspect of your life. If you have a legal question about Alabama child custody laws, you need an experienced and compassionate Alabama Child Custody Attorney who understands what you are experiencing and actually cares about your case and your children. As an experienced Child Custody and Family Law attorney, Harwell Law Firm LLC has represented over a thousand clients in child custody, child support and other family law matters.

At Harwell Law Firm LLC, we understand that a child custody case will be one of the most stressful events you and your children will ever endure and we are here to help.  If you need to speak with a Birmingham Child Custody lawyer, please contact Harwell Law Firm LLC via phone at (205) 980-1445 or onlineIf you choose to hire us as your Child Custody attorney, you will be hiring an experienced Christian Child Custody Law Firm with over 18 years of experience.

Our Approach to an Alabama Child Custody Case

  • We understand that Divorce and Child Custody cases are stressful – Alabama Child Custody Attorneys should not make it worse.
  • Whether you are going through an initial Divorce case in which child custody is an issue or you are seeking to Modify a Child Custody Order, you need an experienced Alabama child custody attorney that understands and cares about you and your children, will provide you with wise legal counsel, and if necessary, will aggressively defend your rights related to your children.
  • Harwell Law Firm LLC appreciates how important your children are to you and will fight, when necessary, to insure that every client that hires our firm receives honest and objective advice and the best possible representation in their case.
  • If you hire Harwell Law Firm LLC as your Alabama Child Custody attorney, we work for you and you are our boss.
  • Our job as your Birmingham Child Custody Attorney is to listen to you, gather and review relevant documents, assess the strengths and weakness of your child custody case and to then advise you of a course of action after we have a complete understanding of the facts of your case.
  • At all stages of your Alabama Child Custody case, our primary role as your child custody attorney is to provide wise legal counsel, explain and guide you through the child custody process and to aggressively advocate your case through tough negotiations and at trial if necessary.
  • After gathering facts, Harwell Law Firm LLC will advise you accordingly and formulate a plan in preparing your case, negotiating a possible settlement and representing you in hearings and at trial.
  • Whether negotiating a settlement or advocating your interests in the Courtroom, we will do everything within the law to protect your rights and the rights of your children.
  • Harwell Law Firm LLC is known by clients and other local attorneys as being honest, straight forward and forthright in assessing the facts of a case and how these facts apply to the law.
  • The decisions you make on your Child Custody case can have long lasting effects on your children and future finances and we will always recommend a course of action which is in your best interests and in the best interests of your children.
  • Although we give advice throughout the entire process, you make all final decisions on your case and you can choose to not follow our advice.
  • Even though your decision may differ from our recommendations, once you have decided on a course of action, it is then our job to follow your chosen course of action and to use our knowledge and experience of divorce law to help you achieve your desired results.

Birmingham Child Custody Attorney that Provides Solutions, Not Problems

  • Although many potential clients may initially believe they want the “meanest child custody attorney” in town,  Harwell Law Firm LLC strongly believes this approach in a Child Custody case is like throwing the proverbial “gas on a fire.”
  • Exceptions exist to every general rule and in cases of child abuse, drug addiction, severe mental health issues, alcoholism and false allegations of sexual abuse, it is absolutely necessary to “come out swinging” and to aggressively advocate and litigate a Child Custody case.
  • Except in rare cases, all too often, Alabama Child Custody Attorneys attorneys can be the cause of a problem, rather than a solution, and exacerbate an already tense and potentially explosive family.
  • Rather than providing wise legal counsel, a Family Law attorney and child custody lawyer can be the cause of many problems by filing unnecessary motions, litigating issues which should be resolved, advising clients to use their children for leveraging financial settlements and fueling negative emotions.
  • A “scorched earth campaign” is an especially harmful approach when children are involved.
  • Although an equitable property division and other monetary issues such as alimony are an important aspect of an Alabama divorce case, they pale in comparison to your children and the lasting effects that an acrimonious divorce and child custody battle can have on the child’s life as well as yours.ealous Alabama Family Law attorneys employ “Rambo litigation” tactics, this leads to excessive and unnecessary legal fees and expenses in which only the family law attorneys win and both clients can end of spending their life savings on Family attorneys.

Alabama Child Custody Attorney’s Approach to Negotiations and Litigation

  • Some Child Custody attorneys, for some inexplicable reason, treat every case as if it is will go to trial.
  • Although this tactic may necessary in contentious child custody matters, most individuals cannot afford to spend $30,000 or more in legal fees, expert witness fees and other litigation costs.
  • Our approach as your Child Custody Attorney is to immediately begin discussing settlement of your case from the very outset of your case after we have a full understanding of the facts and have verified all pertinent and necessary information.
  • Negotiations can be done via the exchange of offers and counter-offers with the opposing family law attorney or by utilizing a settlement conference in which the lawyers, you and the other side meet at one of our offices or the opposing attorney’s office and try to resolve your case.
  • By utilizing a “negotiation first” approach, it can actually expedite the resolution of your case and save you time and money expended on legal fees by avoiding numerous edits to a Child Custody Agreement and a back and forth e-mail battle between the Family Law attorneys.
  • If a settlement conference fails, the next course of action we usually recommend is to attempt a Child Custody mediation.
  • In Shelby County, our judges are actually requiring that all cases be set on a Court Order Mediation Docket prior to setting a case for trial.
  • In a Child Custody mediation, you and the other party, as well as the attorneys, utilize the services of a Mediator who acts as a neutral third party to assist you and your spouse on reaching a settlement. If a settlement is reached on all issues, the Agreement is then submitted to the Court and the Judge signs a Final Order.

Experienced Birmingham Child Custody Attorney

  • If all efforts to resolve your case are unsuccessful and you and the opposing party cannot reach an agreement on Child Custody, we then will then prepare your case for trial.
  • This can involve taking depositions, subpoenaing documents, deposing fact witnesses, hiring experts, preparing trial exhibits and preparing you and other your witnesses to testify at trial;
  • We can also hire child custody experts, if necessary and at your expense, to assist us in preparing your case for trial:


Unlike most child custody lawyers that market on the internet that they are a Birmingham Child Custody attorney, a Hoover Child Custody lawyer, a Chelsea Child Custody attorney or a Shelby County Child Custody Law Firm Attorney for search engine purposes, Harwell Law Firm LLC actually has four office locations in the Birmingham metro area with two offices located in Shelby County and two offices located in Jefferson County. This permits us to meet with clients and potential clients at a location which is most convenient to them. The Birmingham office is located in downtown Birmingham at the Wells Fargo Tower ( and the Homewood office is located behind the Embassy Suites in Southbridge Our primary Shelby County Law Firm office is located at The Narrows (link to contact us sub page with map) off of Highway 280 at the bottom of Double Oak Mountain and just outside the city limits of Chelsea, Alabama Our second Shelby County Law Firm location is in Hoover near the Riverchase Galleria at One Chase Corporate Center

Alabama Child Custody Factors

When parents of children are unable to agree on child custody and a judge makes the final custody determination, the judge uses the “best interests” standard when making a custody determination. When determining what would be in the “best interests” of the children, the court must consider the individual facts of each case, including the following factors:
(1) the sex and age of the child;
(2) the child’s emotional, social, moral, material, and educational needs;
(3) the home environments offered by the parties;
(4) the characteristics of those seeking custody, including age, character, stability, and mental and physical health;
(5) the capacity and interest of each parent to provide for the emotional, social, moral, material, and educational needs of the child;
(6) the interpersonal relationship between the child and each parent;
(7) the effect on the child of disrupting or continuing an existing custodial status;
(8) the preference of the child;
(9) and any other relevant matter the evidence may disclose.”

No one factor listed above is controlling on the issue of custody and most divorce trial judges tend to use a common sense approach when deciding a contested custody case. For infants and young children, judges tend to focus on which parent primarily cared for the physical needs of the child such as feeding the child, changing diapers, bathing the child, waking up in the middle of the night to care for the child, taking the child to and from the doctor, etc. For older children, many of these child custody factors do not change but additional factors are added such as the parent’s involvement in school, assisting with homework, providing discipline, extracurricular activities such as sports, music, dance, etc., medical and dental care, church activities and in general spending time with your child or children.


Pursuant to Alabama child custody laws, the state of Alabama has a policy that two suitable parents should retain joint custody of children after a divorce. The Alabama Joint Custody statute states as follows “Joint Custody. It is the policy of this state to assure that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of their children and to encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of rearing their children after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage. Joint custody does not necessarily mean equal physical custody.” Alabama Code 1975, § 30-3-150.

Joint Child Custody Factors

Pursuant to that policy, Ala. Code 1975, § 30-3-152 requires trial courts to consider in every Alabama divorce and Alabama child custody case whether awarding joint custody will serve the best interests of the child. In making that determination, trial courts shall consider the same factors considered in awarding sole legal and physical custody and all of the following factors:
(1) The agreement or lack of agreement of the parents on joint custody.
(2) The past and present ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly.
(3) The ability of the parents to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent.
(4) Any history of or potential for child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping.
(5) The geographic proximity of the parents to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of joint physical custody. Ala. Code 1975, § 30-3-152(a).

Alabama Joint Legal Custody, Joint Physical Custody and Sole Custody

Joint custody can mean both Joint legal custody and/or joint physical custody. Under Alabama Joint Legal Custody, “Both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including, but not limited to, the education of the child, health care, and religious training. The court may designate one parent to have sole power to make certain decisions while both parents retain equal rights and responsibilities for other decision.” Joint Physical Custody means “Physical custody is shared by the parents in a way which assures the child frequent and substantial contact with each parent. Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean physical custody of equal durations of time. Sole legal custody occurs when “One parent has sole rights and responsibilities to make major decisions concerning the child, including, but not limited to, the education of the child, health care and religious training. Sole physical custody occurs when “One parent has sole physical custody and the other parent has rights of visitation except as otherwise provided by the Court.”


Alabama divorce judges that make decisions on child custody have immense power and discretion in making child custody determinations and other matters pertaining to Alabama divorce law. When Alabama Appellate Court’s review a trial court’s child custody determination that was based upon evidence presented at trial, the appellate courts will presume the trial court’s decision is correct. In other words, a child custody determination of the trial court after a trial is accorded a presumption of correctness on appeal and the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and the Alabama Supreme Court will not reverse the Alabama trial court unless the evidence so fails to support the determination that it is plainly and palpably wrong or unless an abuse of the trial court’s discretion is shown. This presumption is based on the trial court’s unique position to directly observe the witnesses and to assess their demeanor and credibility. This opportunity to observe witnesses is especially important in child custody cases. In child custody cases especially, the perception of an attentive trial judge is of great importance.” Appellate courts do not sit in judgment of disputed evidence that was presented ore tenus before the trial court in an Alabama child custody hearing.

Experienced and Effective Birmingham Child Custody Attorney

The trial court in a child custody case is in a better position to consider all of the evidence, as well as the many inferences that may be drawn from that evidence, and to decide the issue of child custody. When appellate courts review a child custody modification order, the review is limited to determining whether there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s judgment modifying custody. The appellate courts will only reverse a conclusion of the trial court if the child custody order is so opposed to the weight of the evidence that the variable factors of a witness’s demeanor and credibility and the inferences that can be drawn from the evidence, even after considering those factors, could not reasonably substantiate the custody conclusion. If the trial court does not make detailed written findings of fact, the Appellate Court assumes that the trial court made findings of fact necessary to support its judgment, unless such findings would be clearly erroneous.

Because of the vast amount of discretion given to domestic relations judges and family court judges, it is important that you hire an experienced Alabama child custody attorney to represent you in your Alabama divorce or in a child custody modification proceeding.

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Experienced Child Custody Attorney

Four Office Locations: Birmingham, Hoover, Chelsea and Homewood
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The Shelby County Child Custody Law Firm and Birmingham Child Custody Attorneys at the offices of Harwell Law Firm, LLC provides Legal Counsel from a Christian Attorney Perspective in Alabama Child Custody cases, Domestic Relations law, Alabama Family Law, Alabama Divorce Law, Post-Divorce Child Custody Modifications, Alabama Paternity cases and Dependency Petitions. Harwell Law Firm LLC represents clients in Shelby County, Jefferson County, counties surrounding Birmingham and municipalities of Shelby County and Jefferson County, including, but not limited to: Birmingham, Chelsea, Hoover, Inverness, Greystone, Vincent, Columbiana, Alabaster, Pelham, Helena, Jemison, Montevallo, Calera, Harpersville, Wilsonville, Sterrett, Leeds, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Homewood, Bessemer, Hueytown, Gardendale, Irondale, Fultondale, Graysville, Fairfield, Clay, Center Point, Brookside, Adamsville, Brighton, Argo, Pell City, Oneonta, Springville, Anniston, Jasper, Huntsville, St. Clair County, Bibb County, Blount County, Talladega County, Tuscaloosa County, Walker County, Cullman County, Madison County and more.