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Family Law

Mary Kristen offers a complete family law practice. She handles divorce, custody, child support and adoptions in both Mobile and Baldwin Counties. While known for her aggressive courtroom style, she also strives to provide her clients with alternative options such as mediation and settlement. She is a certified Family Law mediator who has successfully negotiated a range of agreements as well as uncontested divorces.

family law frequently asked questions

An uncontested divorce is when two parties come to an agreement about dividing their assets and setting a child custody schedule if that applies.  It is often less expensive and much quicker than a contested divorce. However, it only works for couples who can work together and have already agreed to most of the terms in their divorce before even stepping foot in a lawyer’s office.

A contested divorce is when the two parties cannot agree on terms, and either the husband or wife files for divorce.  While contested divorces are geared toward trial, that does not me they will not settle. Even the most contentious of matters can often be resolved without ever stepping foot inside a courtroom. At the Galanos Firm, we guarantee results both inside and outside the courtroom.

Child support is a monthly amount of money paid to the parent who has primary physical custody. It is calculated in accordance with Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration. That calculation considers the number of children from the marriage, the income of both parents, along with healthcare and daycare costs. Once it is set, it cannot be modified without either a substantial change in income or circumstance by one of the parents.

There are two main types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody means the right to make major decisions about your child’s health, education, and religious upbringing. Physical custody is where the child spends most of his time. Most often parents will share legal custody, but only one parent will be awarded primary physical custody. However, there are also situations where the parties share true joint physical custody, meaning that the child equally divides her time between both parents. In those cases, the child usually spends one week at one parent’s home and the next week at the other parent’s home.

Once the Judge issues an Order on the child custody schedule, it is extremely difficult to change. The party seeking to modify that schedule must prove a material change in circumstance since the last Order on custody was given. The “material change in circumstance” burden is hard to overcome. It is not enough that a child simply does not like the arrangement or that a parent has remarried. The burden usually involves allegations that the current custody schedule jeopardizes the child’s moral or physical welfare – often due to abuse, neglect, or substance abuse.

The Court considers a child dependent if neither parent is able or willing to adequately care for their child. These cases often involve a grandparent or other relative seeking custody of the child due to the parents being either absent or unfit. A Guardian ad Litem will be appointed to represent the best interests of the child and advocate for them.

It depends. The Court considers a variety of factors in dividing assets and debts in a marriage. Most often they look at the length of the marriage, any fault that contributed to the breakdown of the marriage, and the discrepancy in income between the parties. One of the commonly asked questions is that of alimony. Alimony is typically reserved for longer term marriages where one parent gave up income or career development to support the family at home. The most common type of alimony is periodic, or rehabilitative, alimony. It is meant to compensate the party that forfeited opportunity to help the family. It is a fixed amount paid each month and ends either at a set period of time or when the receiving party moves in with a romantic partner.