Navigating Custody Disputes
Custody disputes arise out of disagreements over parenting time or decision-making responsibilities, relocation of one parent, or concerns regarding the child’s safety and well-being.
In some cases, disputes may also arise during the establishment of paternity or the modification of existing custody orders. Custody disputes are emotionally taxing and legally complex.
Working with an attorney who has a depth of experience in custody matters can prove invaluable. Experienced counsel can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal system, and advocate for your child’s best interests. By providing guidance, support, and representation throughout the process, a skilled child custody attorney can help to alleviate stress, protect your parental rights, and work towards a resolution that serves the well-being of your child.
Child custody case outcomes include legally-binding custody orders issued by a judge outlining the specific terms and conditions of custody arrangements, or custody agreements reached through negotiation or mediation. Regardless of the path taken, the primary goal is to reach a resolution that prioritizes the children and ensures their physical, emotional, and psychological needs are met while respecting the rights of both parents.
If you feel that your ex-spouse is violating your parental rights, it’s time to bring in a child custody attorney. Call our office at (602) 606-9300 or contact us here to schedule an initial consultation.
Types of Custody
Arizona child custody is divided into two distinct categories: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the child resides and the arrangements that determine where the child will live. In some cases, parents may share joint physical custody, which means the child will spend significant time living with both parents, often with a predetermined schedule. In other situations, one parent may be granted primary physical custody, with the child primarily residing with that parent, while the other parent is granted visitation rights or parenting time. In the family court, physical custody is now referred to as parenting time, with that parenting having more parenting time than the other parent.
Legal custody refers to the legal decision-making authority over important aspects of the child’s life, such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Parents with joint legal custody share equal responsibility and authority in making these critical decisions for their child. In some cases, one parent may be granted sole legal custody, granting them the exclusive authority to make major decisions for the child without necessarily seeking input from the other parent. Sole legal custody is now referred to as sole legal decision-making.
Arizona family law encourages the involvement of both parents in the child’s life, and the court will generally strive to establish arrangements that serve the best interests of the child while respecting the rights of each parent.
How do Arizona Family Courts determine custody?
In Arizona, family courts determine parenting time and legal decision-making arrangements based on the best interests of the child, prioritizing their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. When making custody decisions, the court considers a variety of factors under A.R.S. 25-403, which are designed to ensure that the child’s needs are met and their best interests are protected. Some of these factors include:
- The wishes of the child (if of suitable age and maturity) and the parents regarding custody
- The child’s relationship with each parent, siblings, and other significant people in their life
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved
- Each parent’s willingness and ability to foster a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
- A history of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect in the family
- The ability of each parent to provide stability in the child’s life, including consistency in routines, discipline, and overall care
While considering these factors, the court’s primary objective is to create custody arrangements that ensure the child’s overall well-being and promote a healthy, nurturing environment.
In Arizona, the default rule is to award joint legal decision-making authority and parenting time, as the law encourages the involvement of both parents in the child’s life. Joint legal decision-making authority means that both parents share equal responsibility for making important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as education, healthcare, and religion. Joint parenting time refers to the child spending significant time living with both parents, allowing them to maintain a close relationship with each parent. However, it is important to note that the court may deviate from these default rules if it is determined that such arrangements are not in the child’s best interests, considering the factors outlined in A.R.S. 25-403.
Relocation in Arizona Family Law Cases
Relocation significantly impacts child custody arrangements and the relationships between parents and their children. In Arizona, family law cases involving relocation are governed by A.R.S. 25-408, which outlines specific rules and procedures to protect the rights of both parents and the best interests of the child.
The law defines relocation as any move over 100 miles within the state of Arizona or any move out of state. The parent who plans to move must provide at least 45 days advance written notice to the other parent. This notice must include the new address, the date of the intended move, and a statement explaining the reasons for the relocation. The advance notice allows the non-relocating parent time to review the proposed move and its potential impact on their parenting rights.
If the opposing parent believes relocation infringes upon their parental rights, they have the option to petition the court to stop the move. The petition, in order have maximum effectiveness, must be filed within 30 days of receiving the relocation notice. Otherwise, the petition will be granted only on a showing of good cause.
Upon filing the petition, the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether the proposed move is in the child’s best interests and whether it unjustly infringes on the non-relocating parent’s rights. During the hearing, the court will consider several factors, including:
- the reasons for the relocation;
- the impact on the child’s relationship with both parents;
- the benefits and drawbacks of the move for the child; and
- any other relevant factors that may affect the child’s well-being.
If the court determines that the relocation is not in the child’s best interests or unfairly infringes on the non-relocating parent’s rights, the court may deny the request or modify the existing custody and parenting time arrangements to accommodate the new circumstances.
It is crucial for parents involved in a relocation dispute to understand their rights and obligations under Arizona child custody law. Working with an experienced family law attorney can provide valuable guidance and representation throughout the process, ensuring that the rights of both parents and the best interests of the child are protected.
The Importance of a Well-Crafted Parenting Plan
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure” – Benjamin Franklin
A well-crafted parenting plan is critical in divorce cases, legal separation, and paternity cases. Your parenting plan is a document outlining the rights and responsibilities of each parent. Parenting plans address custody arrangements, visitation rights, and parenting time schedules, and other issues.A well-crafted parenting plan anticipates your family’s unique needs in advance. The right plan can create a stable environment for your children and thus reduce the damage of divorce proceedings.
According to A.R.S. 25-403.02(C), the following must be included in a parenting plan in Arizona:
- Designation of legal decision-making and parenting time
- Communication arrangements between the parents and the child
- Information sharing about the child’s education, health, and well-being
- Access to the child’s medical, dental, and mental health records
- Designation of a process for resolving disputes between the parents
- Allocation of decision-making and parenting time if one parent relocates out of state
- Procedures for periodic review and revision of the parenting plan
- Any other provisions that the parents agree to include in the parenting plan to promote the best interests of the child
It’s important to work with an experienced parenting plan lawyer to ensure that all necessary elements are included in your parenting plan. A Scottsdale Parenting Plan Lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and obligations, and work with you to craft a personalized parenting plan that meets your unique needs. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you with your parenting plan case.
Your parenting plan should account for the daily routines and activities your children, such as:
- School schedules: What are the regular drop-off and pick-up times for your children’s school? If your child takes after-school guitar lessons at School of Rock Scottsdale, the parenting plan should account for that.
- Meal times: At what times do my children eat? Do they have any special dietary needs? How will we account for this?
- Bedtime routines: What are my children’s regular bedtimes and bedtime rituals, and how can these be maintained in the parenting plan? Who will be responsible for getting the children ready for bed when they are with each parent?
- Time with friends: How often do my children have playdates and attend birthday parties or other social activities, and how can these be factored into the parenting plan?
- Family time: What holidays and special occasions does my family typically celebrate together, and how will the parenting plan allow for these celebrations to continue?
- Religious or cultural practices: What religious or cultural practices are important to my family, and how can they be accommodated?
- Medical appointments: How often do my children have medical appointments or treatments? If your child has a standing appointment at Scottsdale Physical Therapy & Performance every Tuesday evening, the parenting plan should take this appointment into consideration.
- Transportation: Who will be responsible for transporting the children to and from school, activities, and appointments when they are with each parent? How will that fit into the parents’ work schedules?
A Scottsdale parenting plan attorneys can guide you in creating a parenting plan to bring stability and security to your children throughout the divorce process.
Plan Around Future Child Custody issues with Proactive Scottsdale Parenting Plan Lawyers
As children grow older, their needs and preferences can change. This is why it’s important to work with a proactive Scottsdale divorce attorney to develop a parenting plan that can adapt to these changes over time. A well-crafted parenting plan can provide a framework for addressing future child custody issues before they arise.
When developing a parenting plan, there are several important decisions to consider. First and foremost, the best interests of the child should be the top priority. This includes factors such as the child’s education, social and mental health, and access to healthcare providers. For example, if the child has a medical condition that requires frequent doctor visits, it may be important to consider the distance between the child’s home and the healthcare provider when developing the parenting plan.
It’s also important to take the child’s desires into account when developing the parenting plan. Depending on the age and maturity of the child, their input may be valuable in determining their preferred parenting time schedule or decision-making arrangements.
Each parent’s schedule should also be considered when developing the parenting plan. This includes factors such as work schedules, travel obligations, and other commitments that could impact their availability for parenting time.
Finally, the existing parent-child relationship should be taken into account when developing the parenting plan. This includes factors such as the level of involvement each parent has had in the child’s life up to this point, and the emotional bond between the child and each parent.
At Radix Law, our experienced attorneys can help you develop a parenting plan that takes all of these factors into account, and more. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about next steps for your parenting plan case.