Most issues arising between parents involving minor children fall under the purview of Title 30 of the Code of Alabama (1975) entitled “Marital and Domestic Relations.” The Circuit Courts in the state of Alabama have exclusive jurisdiction over these matters. Although many areas of the law provide for jury trials to be conducted by Circuit Courts (e.g. personal injury cases, criminal, etc.), matters involving domestic relations are solely decided by the judge. Judges will often times allow the parties to reach a mutual agreement in matters related to property division, spousal support, child support and child custody. However, matters that are unable to be agreed upon will be left up to the judge to decide. In these types of situations, a trial will be conducted and each side will put on their evidence.
Regardless of whether a court’s final order is made through an agreement by the parties or decided at trial by the judge, the final order is legally binding and both parties are subject to punishment via criminal and/or civil sanctions for their failure to comply at any time. Under some circumstances a final order can be modified should a new change in circumstances arise; however, the party requesting the modification has the burden of presenting sufficient evidence to the Court. A modification action can also be agreed upon by the parties or decided by the judge after a formal hearing.
Because family law issues are ultimately decided by a Judge rather than a jury, it is important for an attorney to be familiar with how a particular judge bases his decisions in these areas in order to properly advise his client and develop a trial strategy. For any individual seeking representation in these types of matters, I would recommend getting in touch with a lawyer who is prepared to give your case the attention it requires and who genuinely wants to help.