Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Is Custodial Interference?

What Is Custodial Interference

What does Custodial Interference mean? In simple terms, when one parent attempts to create disruption to the custody rights of the other parent of the child or children, this is known as custodial interference.

Often a highly contentious issue, when custody orders are interfered with it can lead in some cases to consequences of a criminal nature. However, there are a very few situations where it may be legally permissible to temporarily interfere with the custodial rights of the other parent. The following are important facts you should be aware of regarding custodial interference and what can be done regarding it.

Types Of Custodial Interference

There are many ways custodial interference can happen. Here are some examples:

  • Making a visitation upon the child or children while the other parent is supposed to have custody of the child or children.
  • When the other parent has a planned and a scheduled visit, the refusal to release the child or children to the other parent.
  • Limiting the telephone or online contact the child or children has with the other parent.
  • Not returning the child or children on time for a planned exchange.
  • Using enticements to turn the child or children against the other parent.

However, in certain situations, custodial interference is not a violation of the law. For example:

  • When you are protecting a child or children from danger.
  • When previously made agreements disrupt custodial arrangements.
  • When outside events prevent a parent making a timely transfer of the child or children (bad weather being one example.)

What Can Be Done?

A parent can report to law enforcement and the courts any examples of custodial interference. Courts will often try to remedy the ongoing situation. Here are a few ways they try to achieve this:

  • Instituting revised and specific orders for visitation.
  • Instituting make up time for visitation purposes.
  • Family mediation or therapy.

Depending on the situation more severe intervention may be required – a parent may request greater relief. Examples include:

  • Third parties being present at supervised visits.
  • A neutral location being designated for the transfer of the child or children.
  • Reductions or loss of custody or visitation.
  • Fees and fines.

Many states consider custodial interference to be a felony or misdemeanor crime.

Source: “What Is Custodial Interference?” Findlaw, https://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2013/08/what-is-custodial-interference.html.

Speak With One Of Our Child Custody Attorneys In Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group’s child custody lawyers in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions. We can help with legal guardianshipchild relocationfathers rightsgrandparents rights, and more. Call today for an initial consultation!

We are experienced family law attorneys and will fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. Our firm will rigorously represent you, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Custodial Interference By Grandparents

Custodial Interference By Grandparents

Child custody describes the legal relationships and status regarding a child or children and their legal guardians and/or parents. An individual with the custody of a child or children by default has all the responsibilities and rights of raising the child or children. This includes caring for the child or children and making choices and legal decisions for the child or children. The custody of a child or children can be granted by a court to anyone, meaning, a legal guardian can be the child or children’s, adoptive parents, biological parents, cousins, grandparents, siblings that are of legal age as well as friends, uncles and aunts. Read on to learn more.

In most custody cases for a child or children, grandparents are often not given consideration, when it comes to visitation and securing custodial rights. Even when the grandparents have been separated from the child or children from their parents because of causes like divorce, death or the breakdown of communication between a child or children and their parent or parents.

Primary Arguments For The Rights Of Grandparents

  • The child or children can suffer from trauma when they no longer have contact with the grandparents.
  • Divorce or the incarceration of a child or children or if a child or children should die does not give the parent who has custody the right to sever the relationship the children or child has with their grandparents.
  • Grandparents offer a stable role in the life of a grandchild or grandchildren. This is especially the case for a child or children following a death or a divorce.

Primary Arguments Against The Rights Of Grandparents

  • As long as the parents are competent, the state generally has no right to interfere in the decisions of how those parents raise their child or children – meaning a parent has the right to exclude a visit from a grandparent, even when supervised.
  • There can be good reasons to exclude a grandparent or grandparents. For example, if they have a history of child abuse or interfere with the process of the conventional decisions competent parents make on behalf of their child or children. Also, some grandparents will bad mouth the parents of the child or children in front of them.
  • Grandparents and parents often have conflicts but even when parents are being irrational or unfair, interference from a court can make the home of the child or children less stable than before.

Currently, a grandparent visitation law does not exist nor is it protected in any shape or form in common law or the constitution of the United States of America. In the last 40 years, any statutes or laws on the books regarding the rights of a grandparent of a child or children are not similar from state to state. It is true all 50 states have visitation laws for a child or children as well as who may be permitted to have visitation with them after a case of child custody has been determined. These laws can consider, stepparents, parents and grandparents.

Approximately forty percent of US states only allow grandparents of the child or children to have rights of visitation and not any other person. The consequences of this are cousins; foster parents, stepparents or other relatives cannot be granted rights of visitation. However, in all of the fifty states, Grandparents are able to file a lawsuit in court in situations when they have been told they are denied the right to visit or see their grandchild or grandchildren when there is apparently no reason for them not to be allowed access to the grandchild or grandchildren.

Grandparents Rights In Arizona

In Arizona, the custodial rights of Grandparents are defined by statute A.R.S. § 25-409. Therefore, Grandparents maintain the right to be involved in the lives of their grandchild or grandchildren and if needed, to seek safe protection for them, on their behalf. Grandparents can seek legal assistance when the relationship between a grandchild or grandchildren has become broken in cases where the grandchild or grandchildren may be in risk or danger. These rights can help Grandparents retain involvement in the lives of their grandchild or grandchildren as well as protect their own rights as Grandparents. Some examples of where legal advice may be required include:

  • Parents refuse Grandparents involvement or even access to their grandchild or grandchildren.
  • Adoption, permanent custody or guardianship of a grandchild or grandchildren.
  • In cases of parental abuse of a grandchild or grandchildren.

Furthermore, Grandparents are realizing they have rights and can exercise them, examples include:

  • The filing of court petitions with the purpose of requesting continued visitation and access to their grandchild or grandchildren.
  • The filing of child custody petitions with the purpose of care of a grandchild or grandchildren.
  • The filing adoption petitions with the purpose of care for a grandchild or grandchildren.

Grandparents often seek legal advice on their visitation rights regarding a grandchild or grandchildren. There are legal requirements that must be gone through and met including the fact Grandparents must provide evidence their contact with a grandchild or grandchildren is in the child’s best interests. Some factors that are taken into consideration include:

  • The historical bond the Grandparent has with the grandchild or grandchildren.
  • A parental divorce of at least a minimum of three months.
  • A parental absence of at least a minimum of three months.
  • When a child or children are born out of wedlock.

Custodial requests by Grandparents are considerably more complex as a vital key to success will be providing convincing evidence the parents are unfit.  Grandparents seeking such relief will very likely need competent legal assistance to advance their case.

Source: Phoenixdivorceattorney. “Grandparent’s Rights in Arizona (Ultimate Guide for 2019).” Cantor Law Group, https://cantorlawgroup.com/grandparents-rights-in-arizona.

Speak With One Of Our Child Custody Attorneys In Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group’s child custody lawyers in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions. We can help with legal guardianshipchild relocationfathers rightsgrandparents rights, and more. Call today for an initial consultation!

We are experienced family law attorneys and will fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. Our firm will rigorously represent you, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Non-Custodial Parent Moving Out Of State Arizona

Non-Custodial Parent Moving Out Of State Arizona

When deciding if a parent will be allowed to relocate with a child or children, courts in Arizona conduct an investigation whether the relocation is likely to damage the relationship the child or children has with the parent who is not relocating. Following a divorce, it is not at all unknown for one parent desiring to relocate to another city or indeed, another state. It may be for a new spouse, a new career or just a fresh start in a new place. Regardless of the reason, it has a substantial effect on issues of custody. Following the move, if the parents are unable to come to an agreement regarding custody of the child or children, a judge will make the final and legally binding decision. The judge will consider many factors when assessing the most preferred custodial situation for the child or children. Therefore, as relocation custody can be a complex issue, it is vital to understand circumstances and situations that may impact your case.

Overview of Arizona Custody Laws

The center point of any custody dispute is what is in the best interests of the child or children. Let’s look at some of the factors court consider to be of paramount significance when deciding on the visitation and custody arrangements that will satisfy the physical and emotional needs of the child or children:

  • The physical health and mental health of each parent.
  • The relationship the child or children has with their parents.
  • The ability of each parent to provide a stable environment for their child or children.
  • If any of the parents have a history of child abuse or domestic violence.
  • The ability of the child or children to adjust to a new community and home.

The judge will then make a decision as to whether to award sole or joint physical custody as well as sole and joint legal custody of the child or children having undertaken a consideration of factors relating to the health and wellbeing of the child or children. It is worth remembering a parent with sole custody of the child or children may have more leeway when it comes to the relocation of the child or children.

Relocation Rules For Arizona Parents

A relocation is not a simple move to the other side of town. When parents share legal or joint custody, the parent who is relocating is obliged to give advance notice of at least 45 days regarding an intended move out of state or an in-state move in excess of 100 miles. The parent who is not moving may then make a petition to the court preventing the relocation. When a judge refuses the relocation request, the other parent may still move there, but will be unable to take the child or children with them to live.

How Judges Decide Relocation Cases

Primarily, the judge examines the negative consequences a potential move may have on the wellbeing of a child or children. Evidence will be submitted by each side and the judge will determine whether to allow the relocation and how custody arrangements will be adjusted. At the hearing, a judge may hear testimony from the individual parents, relatives, teachers, or friends. In particular the judge is looking at the following aspects:

  • The reason for the move.
  • Is the purpose of the move to interfere with the visitation of the other parent?
  • Will the quality of life and wellbeing of the child or children be impacted in a negative way?
  • The relationships the child or children have with both parents, looking at the past, the present day and the future potential of these relationships.
  • What are the possible effects of less visitation with one parent?
  • The relationship a child or children has with their siblings.
  • The adjustment to home and community the child or children will have to undertake.
  • If they are of mature enough years, the preferences of the child or children.
  • Any other circumstances the court deems to consider as important.

The burden of proof lies with the parent making the move to show it is in the best interests of the child or children to move with them. Courts understand the needs of a parent to move, travel and follow a career but the best interests of the child or children and the right of the other parent to maintain meaningful relationships with their child or children has to be balanced up against this.

Source: Otterstrom, Kristina. “Child Custody and Relocation Laws in Arizona.” Www.divorcenet.com, Nolo, 31 Mar. 2017, https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/child-custody-and-relocation-laws-arizona.html.

Speak With One Of Our Child Custody Attorneys In Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group’s child custody lawyers in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions. We can help with legal guardianshipchild relocationfathers rightsgrandparents rights, and more. Call today for an initial consultation!

We are experienced family law attorneys and will fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. Our firm will rigorously represent you, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Custodial Interference In Arizona

Custodial Interference In Arizona

ARS 13-1302 is the Arizona statute governing custodial interference. An individual can face custodial interference charges when they knowingly act in a manner that contradicts an existing parenting plan or when they act in a way defying the legal rights of a parent. Custodial interference takes place when a parent makes a decision to purposefully hamper the custody rights of the other parent. Sadly, this is a frequently a contentious issue in cases of shared custody and can even result in charges of a criminal nature being filed because once they are established, custody orders are enforceable, more than that, they are also binding from a legal standpoint.

When Can You Claim Custodial Interference?

Court orders have to be in place because if rights of legal decision making and parenting time are yet to be adjudicated by the court, there are no outstanding orders to be broken and there are no meaningful legal actions you can undertake until the courts sign off on the orders.

Examples Of Custodial Interference Include:

  • When parenting time has been scheduled, refusing to bring the child or children.
  • When the other parent has company making a visitation to the child or children without at first obtaining permission to do so.
  • Not returning the child or children on schedule.
  • Purposefully limiting the contact, the child or children have with the other parent.
  • Using enticements on the child or children to isolate the parent holding custody.
  • Taking the child or children before court orders are in place.
  • Taking the child or children when it is not parenting time according to the schedule already in place.

These are common examples but as each situation is unique you should talk to a family law attorney and they can make a determination as to whether your rights have been violated.

When your child or children have been born out of wedlock, the law states the custodial rights go to the mother until brand new court orders becomes effective. It is vitally important you do not take any actions against the child or children or the mother. This law will be enforced and can result in criminal proceedings.

When The Other Parent Interferes With Custody

Custody agreements are often contentious but when you have a court order already in place, you are within your rights to call law enforcement when the other parent refuses to stick to the agreed parenting plan. Your actions should also be reported to the courts. Minor examples of interference will likely be met with a caution from law enforcement as well as the enforcement of the agreed, court order, plan of parenting. In cases when a parent continues to interfere in this way, the police will now have written documentation of the behavior and if needed can make an arrest. In situations when the custodial interference has become very extreme, the courts have the power to make the following changes to the established parenting plan:

  • Transfers at a preset location that is neutral (sometimes a police station.)
  • Visits that have to be supervised by a third party.
  • Loss or restriction of custody and rights of visitation.
  • Penalties and fines.
  • Criminal repercussions.

Custodial Interference Penalties

As custody is an agreement that is court ordered, when this agreement is not adhered too, it is enforceable by law. The court system has the best interests of children uppermost in their thoughts. As per ARS 13-1302, custodial interference can be penalized by:

  • Class Four Felony: Interference by a non-parent.
  • Class Four or Class Six Felony: When a child or children is taken outside of state boundaries depending on the parenting agreement and the circumstances.
  • Class One Misdemeanor: When the child or children are returned within a forty-eight hour timeframe and they are unharmed.

As you can see, the penalties are serious. That said, it is usually only in the most serious situations where criminal charges are filed. More than likely, the initial penalty will result in a loss of current parenting rights. Always remember, any action by the parent that is contrary to the interpreted best interests of the child or children will be taken very seriously indeed.

Custodial Interference Law Exemptions

In some situations, the court allows a parent non-adherence to the parenting plan if the following applies:

  • A parent is protecting the child or children from harm.
  • Disruptions to the parenting plan that have been previously agreed upon.
  • Events the parents do not have control over.

There is no question it is frustrating to deal with custodial interference. However, the courts will be on your side and will protect your rights. The courts just will now permit a parent to continually transgress a parenting agreement that has been court ordered. The wellbeing of your child or children will be of primary concern and your own concerns will be taken seriously.

Source: “Custodial Interference in Arizona: Laws for a Disruptive Divorced Parent.” Mesa Divorce Lawyers & Family Law Attorneys, 30 May 2019, https://www.jacksonwhitelaw.com/arizona-family-law/custodial-interference-arizona/.

Speak With One Of Our Child Custody Attorneys In Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group’s child custody lawyers in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions. We can help with legal guardianshipchild relocationfathers rightsgrandparents rights, and more. Call today for an initial consultation!

We are experienced family law attorneys and will fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. Our firm will rigorously represent you, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

How Child Custody Is Determined In Arizona

In the last few years, Arizona has completed an overhaul of custody laws. Essentially moving to a model based on “parenting time” and “legal decision making” as opposed to the terminology previously utilized for custody issues. In January 2013 this move took effect and signified a shift of emphasis towards making joint parenting a priority as opposed to the older legislative model that tended to use every other weekend style custody arrangements and that Mothers would no longer be favored over Fathers automatically as the parent with primary custodial responsibility.

Although there has been a change in the statutory language and terminology used, child custody determination still use legal decision making in an effective manner. Primarily, the determination of parenting time and legal decision-making reflect which of the parents have the right to make certain decisions on behalf of the child or children as well as how much time the individual patent gets to spend with the child or children.

The following discusses how Arizona courts make their determinations of parenting time and legal decision-making.

Determining Legal Decision Making

Based on the best interests of the child, Arizona decided to replace legal custody with legal decision making authority. This means legal decision making allows parents to make important decisions regarding the life of a child or children. These can include, personal care, education, healthcare, and religion. The courts will consider “all factors that are relevant to the child’s physical and emotional well-being”, as outlined by  A.R.S. §25-403. – when making a determination of which parents will have this authority.

There are many factors which courts consider that are specifically mentioned in this particular Arizona statute including:

  • The adjustment of the child or children to their school, community and home environments
  • The child or childrens’ relationships and interactions with siblings, parents and other people who can have a significant effect on the best interest of the child or children
  • The physical and mental health of the parents
  • An examination of the parent and child or children’s past, present and potential future parental relationships
  • If the child or children are of a suitable age, their personal wishes of who they wish to primarily reside with
  • A determination of whether child abuse or domestic violence has been a feature of the home life of the child or children

In summary, the court examines many factors when the court determines which parent should have the authority of legal decision-making. Once everything has been given due consideration, the court will decide to give sole legal decision-making authority to one parent or joint legal decision making authority to both parents. Most similar in form to being granted sole custody, sole legal decision-making authority means one parent is granted the authority to take the major decisions regarding the life and welfare of the child or children. Conversely, both parents will have an obligation to work together if joint decision making is granted by the court.

Legal Decision-Making Considerations

The other primary part of custody is known as “parenting time.” This determines how much time a parent is authorized to physically spend with their child or children and decisions are made by the court using the principles of the “best interests of the child.” A.R.S. §25-403.02 states that parents in Arizona have to submit a mandatory plan of parenting if both parents are unable to come to an agreement regarding the time each parent will spend with their child or children. Because the courts will always make a decision based on the child’s best interest, it is worth noting the determination of joint legal decision-making may not necessarily justify equal parenting time. In a similar vein, the parent who lacks the authority to make decisions is still entitled to a meaningful and productive relationship with the child or children. Only in the case where a parent is not in a fit state to be with their child or children (often for reasons such as child abuse or substance abuse), it is very likely both parents will be granted enough time by the court to continue developing a meaningful relationship with their child or children. As ever, the actual time will be determined by what is in the best interests of the child or children.

Non-Considered Factors

Many people think the female parent will be automatically awarded as the primary caretaker of the child or children. This is simply no longer the case in Arizona.  The parent’s enthusiasm and relationship with the child are paramount. The wealth of the parent or their socioeconomic status has almost nothing to do with the Court’s decision.

Parents only have to provide adequate and safe accommodation for the child or children. The court will not always grant custody to the parent who happens to be more affluent. Both parents should be able to provide comfortable living conditions, cleanliness and the ability to provide for the healthcare of the child. Regarding religion, it is important to be reminded of the fact the court will always act in the best interests of the child or children. Providing the religion of the parent does not cause harm to the child or children – the religion of the parents are not grounds for parental duties disqualification.  Put another way, Mom goes to her church on her days, and Father does or does not attend his venue with the children on his days.

Other Important Considerations

  • In Arizona, family law courts have the ability to grant both joint and sole custody. It is more common for sole custody to be granted when the parties cannot reach a mutual agreement
  • If you use unsubstantiated or false allegations of neglect or abuse against the other parent – it will be used against you by the courts in the process of decision-making; be very careful what you allege in your papers, they are tendered under penalty of perjury
  • The more mature or older the children or child will be increasingly considered (e.g interviewed)  in the legal process
  • Remember the parent who is more open to negotiation and communication with the other parent is often more likely to obtain primary custody or the majority of the children or child’s guardianship

When both parents submit a written plan for parenting and are open to communication and negotiation, the court will grant joint custody on the occasions it is in the best interests of the child or children. Families settle on a successful custody situation in more than 95% of the cases outside the court system in an amicable manner. However, if you are unable to make a mutually successful achievement on a child custody agreement, talk to a family law attorney to investigate your options in achieving resolution via litigation.

Sources:

Hg.org, www.hg.org/legal-articles/how-is-child-custody-determined-in-arizona-29809.

Speak With One Of Our Child Custody Attorneys In Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group’s child custody lawyers in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions. We can help with legal guardianshipchild relocationfathers rightsgrandparents rights, and more. Call today for an initial consultation!

We are experienced family law attorneys and will fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. Our firm will represent you fully, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Win Child Custody

To win child custody essentially means that you are happy with your custody circumstances and the custody agreement is in the best interest of the child or children. How this happens depends on the situation. It could possibly mean that you get sole custody of your child, that you share custody with the other parent, or that the judge agrees to your proposed parenting plan, etc.

In the end, how do you win custody? You work on your own or with the other parent to create a custody agreement that meets the needs of your child. After that, you work with the other parent or on your own to get the court to agree to your plan.

To create a winning parenting plan to present in court, call Canterbury Law Group today.

Create a winning parenting plan

Your parenting plan demonstrates how you and the other parent will continue to care for your child now that you are separated or getting a divorce.

A satisfactory parenting plan has:

  • A defined parenting schedule that shows when the child spends time with each parent
  • Details about how the parents will make decisions for the child
  • Specifics about expenses and finances
  • Parenting requirements and rules about raising the child
  • Any other information you may want to add

To produce a winning parenting plan, you must customize it, so it suits the needs of your child and fits your unique circumstances.

You can draw out your plan on your own, work closely with the other parent to develop it, and/or hire an attorney or legal professional to assist you.

Negotiate a plan with your child’s other parent

The best way to win custody of your child is to work with your child’s other parent to make a custody agreement both of you approve of. This helps you avoid a drawn-out, costly court battle and makes your agreement more effective, and is only beneficial for the child.

It doesn’t matter if you and the other parent disagree about custody, it is still worthwhile to try and arrange an agreement. In order to do this, you will both have to set aside personal differences and focus on what is in the best interest of the child.

Here are some recommendations to help you when meeting with the other parent:

  • Prepare example parenting plans and parenting time schedules to show your ideas
  • Write down the thoughts and concerns that you want to go over before you meet
  • Be flexible about your parenting agreements
  • Hear out the other parent’s ideas and concerns
  • Set aside any personal differences with the other parent
  • Think of your child when you work out your parenting agreement
  • Don’t talk about divorce issues or other outside issues during the meeting
  • Bring your work schedule and the child’s school schedule
  • Talk to your child about what they want in the agreement (if your child is old enough)
  • Seek mediation or counseling if needed
  • Get enough sleep the night before you meet, maybe each bring a friend to reduce tension
  • Allow multiple meetings (don’t try to discuss too much at once)
  • Take a break if things get strained, you can always try again later

Record your actual custody circumstances

You may find it beneficial to track the actual time, so you know how to prepare your custody plan.

Track your actual parenting time, so you know how your actual time correlates to your scheduled time. This can help you define your custody and visitation schedule and know if the schedule is being upheld.  For example, if one parent works nights and weekends, creative scheduling is going to be required to see the children during normal waking hours, when they are typically in school.

You can also keep a custody log book where you write notes about what happens during your parenting time. You can use your book to communicate with the other parent or keep it for your records.

Tracking your parenting time and keeping a log book helps you win custody by making sure your plan is the correct one for you and your child. It also helps each parent follow the plan.  The log book can also be critical for “going back to court” after your original plan is in place.

Present a winning case in court

If you and your child’s other parent are incapable of coming to an agreement about custody arrangements, you will go to family court, and a judge will determine the final parenting time arrangements.

To win in family court, you must develop a parenting plan and show the judge how that plan will benefit your child. It might be a good idea to hire an attorney to come up with your plan and represent you in court.  Things can and will get complicated.

You can represent yourself and still win custody, you will just need to prepare an appropriate plan and present it very well.

Attend custody mediation to win your case

If both parents cannot work out a custody agreement, you should consider going to custody mediation with a third party professional.

In custody mediation, you and the other parent will meet with an impartial third-party mediator who can help you create your agreement. The mediator will help you as you make decisions for your plan and help you work out your disagreements.  The mediator is usually a retired family law judge or attorney well versed in custody issues.

Some states require that parents go to mediation first before actually going to court. You may also have the alternative of getting free or discounted mediation through your court or state. If mediation isn’t offered in your court, you can pay for mediation privately.  Each parent usually pay 50% of the meditor’s fees.  You can also bring your attorney to mediation.

Mediation is successful for a lot people, and if you can co-author your parenting plan in mediation, you will be happy with your plan and you both win your case.

Speak With One Of Our Child Custody Attorneys In Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group’s child custody lawyers in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions. We can help with legal guardianshipchild relocationfathers rightsgrandparents rights, and more. Call today for an initial consultation!

We are experienced family law attorneys and will fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. Our firm will represent you fully, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Modification of Parenting Time in Arizona

If you are looking for information on modification of parenting time in Arizona, this post should help! Here we show you how to modify visitation time in Arizona. You can ask the court to modify your parenting time agreement if you can prove that there is enough evidence to show that modifying your parenting time agreement is in the best interests of your child(ren). All you must do to modify parenting time in Arizona is file a Petition for Modification of Parenting Time with the court. You can file a petition for parenting time modifications until your child(ren) turn 18 years of age.  To win your petition, you must establish a substantial and continuing change of circumstances has occurred since issuance of your prior custody orders, and that modifying the orders is in the best interests of the minor children.

Although Arizona law states that you must wait at least 1 year before you can make modify a custody order unless you can prove there is an immediate threat of harm to the child(ren). According to Justia US Law, “No motion to modify a custody decree may be made earlier than one year after its date, unless the court permits it to be made on the basis of affidavits that there is reason to believe the child’s present environment may endanger seriously his physical, mental, moral or emotional health.

On the other hand, making changes to your parental access schedule can happen at any time. Nearly all judges won’t like seeing parents going back to court repeatedly to request changes in custody orders unless there is a significant change in circumstances which is systemic and ongoing.  Put another way, a one-time occurrence is not sufficient to justify child custody orders, you need a change in circumstances that is systemic and ongoing.

How To File A Petition For Modification Of Parenting Time In Arizona

Follow the step below to file a petition for modification of parenting time in Arizona.

Step 1 of 1:

The Papers for the Agreement – Court forms and instructions to file a petition to modify a court custody order for parenting time.

Read More About

Child Custody Laws In Arizona

Modify Legal Decision-Making, Parenting Time and Child Support

Establish Paternity and Legal Decision-Making, Parenting Time and Child Support

Modify Parenting Time and Child Support

Emergency Petition To Modify Parenting Time or Child Custody

Arizona courts can also grant an emergency petition to modify parenting time or child custody if one parent or the other raise allegations that indicate the child(ren) are at risk of serious harm. If that happens, the court has the authority to change or eliminate parenting time for that parent until an evidentiary hearing is scheduled. At the evidentiary hearing, both parents will be able to present evidence, testify under oath, and the court will decide whether to keep the emergency order in place, modify it, or cancel it.

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs. 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

Speak With Our Child Custody Attorneys In Scottsdale

Our child custody and guardianship attorneys in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with personal attention and care always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions.

We are experienced family law attorneys and will fight for you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. Call today for an initial consultation at 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Child Custody Battles Between Unmarried Parents

Child custody battles between unmarried parents create many questions. Who has legal custody of a child when the parents are not married? Who has custody of a child if there are no court orders? What rights does a father have if he is listed on the birth certificate? What rights does an unwed father or mother have? These are common questions we hear all the time when facing child custody battles between unmarried parents.

What Rights Does an Unmarried Father Have?

Without a court order, an unwed father does not have a legal right to see his child. Furthermore, when a child is born to an unmarried mother, the unwed father does not have a legal presumption of paternity and is not automatically presumed to be the biological related to the child.  Under binding U.S. Supreme Court authority, the father has no say on whether the mother can carry the child to term and birth, or terminate the pregnancy early.  It’s 100% mother’s decision by law.

Who Has Legal Custody of a Child When the Parents Are Not Married?

If the parents are not married, the mother has immediate and presumptive legal custody of the child (Sole & Physical). An unmarried father does not have legal rights to custody or visitation. Only a legal parent can request the court to grant custody or visitation rights.  Those rights can only be acquired by commencing and litigating a formal paternity lawsuit in a court of law.

Absent custody orders, father cannot see the child.  Absent custody orders, the mother cannot recover child support payments from the biological father.  On the other hand, if a child was born during a marriage, both the mother and father have legal custody of the child immediately upon birth.

Unmarried Fathers Rights to Custody & Visitation

If an unmarried father wants to attain child custody or visitation rights to his child, he must first establish paternity. Most of the time paternity is established after the birth of the baby when the father fills out his part of the birth certificate form. If that didn’t happen, fathers can always fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity Form. This is a document that establishes legal paternity and can be used to record the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate.

If the mother disputes his father’s paternity, the father can commence a lawsuit and petition the court to establish paternity or he can get in touch with an agency like the Child Support Enforcement Division in his state.

Once an unmarried father establishes paternity, he then has the same rights as a married father.

Generally, this is not a big issue for couples who live together unmarried, but becomes a much larger issue for unmarried couples who do not live together. If you are an unmarried father who doesn’t live with your kids you will need to petition the court to attain custody rights of your child(ren).

If it’s possible, the mother and father should try to work out a reasonable custody agreement that will likely be approved by the court. Most agreements regarding paternity and child custody arrangements will be rubber stamped by the Court so long as the agreements are truthful and accurate.

What Rights Does a Father Have if He is on the Birth Certificate?

A father with his name on the birth certificate of the child has some limited rights.  You should consult with a licensed attorney to better understand how to perfect those rights.

Unmarried Mothers Rights to Custody & Visitation

Community Legal Aid states “An unmarried woman who gives birth to a child has custody of the child automatically.”

This above statement assumes that you and the father have never married each other, you were not married to another person when the child was born, and that there were not any previous court orders giving anyone else custody or visitation rights to the child.

An unmarried mother has legal custody without having to go to court. Unmarried mothers have all the rights of a parent including:

  • The right to make the decision about who can see the child and for how long
  • The right to limit visitation, or to remove the child from the state
  • The right to enroll their child(ren) in school
  • The right to acquire medical treatment
  • The right to receive public benefits for the child
  • And more

Other Factors the Court Will Consider for Child Custody & Visitation Rights

The court will consider what is in the best interest of your child(ren). In a perfect world, this would include both the mother and the father being involved in the child’s upbringing.

Other factors the court will consider may include:

  • The financial situation of each parent
  • Where each parent lives
  • The moral character of each parent

Dealing with Child Custody Issues for Parents Who Live Together but are Unmarried

Parents who are unmarried and living together face different issues than married parents do. Issues such as ensuring your child qualifies for insurance and government benefits, proving paternity, parental rights in places such as medical facilities and schools, choosing your child’s last name, and claiming your child on tax returns are common issues that parents who are not married must address when living together.

What If A Am a Non-Legal Parent to My Partner’s Child?

If you are a parent to your partner’s child, you are a non-legal parent and you may not be able to make important decisions regarding your partner’s child. Legal parents are the only ones that have priority in these decisions. The best way to be included with important decision making for the child is to formally adopt them or to seek in loco parentis status from a court order.

Child Support Considerations for Unmarried Parents

Non-custodial biological parents, even if unmarried, are required to pay child support until the children reach age 18. However, child support responsibilities continue until 19 if the child is unmarried and a full-time high school student. If an unmarried mother wishes to be paid child support, she must legally establish paternity first. The father can voluntarily comply, or the mother can file a lawsuit to establish paternity through DNA testing. In a voluntary case, the court will order the father to submit genetic testing. If paternity is established through the DNA test, the court will enter a child support order to force the father to make child support payments until the child completes high school or turns 19 years old, whichever sooner occurs.

Who Should Claim Child on Taxes If Not Married?

Only one parent can claim their child(ren) on taxes if they are not married. Generally, the parent with the highest income should claim the child on their tax return. Furthermore, the parent that the child lives with most often is also the one who should claim the child as a dependent. You should also know that the parent that receives child support cannot claim child support as income. And, parents that pay child support can’t deduct support payments from their taxes.  Child support is always a tax-free exchange of money between parents.

What If the Unmarried Parents Live in Different States?

Child custody decisions are based on the best interest of the child standard when unmarried parents live in different states. Most states, including Arizona, have enacted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) which helps streamline custody disputes across the nation.

The court with jurisdiction in this situation is the child’s “home state.”  According to Legal Resource Center “The state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding, including any period during which that person is temporarily absent from that state.”

Start your initial consultation with an experienced family law attorney for more guidance on child custody issues, particularly if multiple states are involved.

Read More About:

Child Custody Rights for Mothers

Child Custody Rights for Fathers

Child Custody Laws In Arizona

Child Custody Battles Between Unmarried Parents

How To Get Custody Of A Child In Arizona (Process)

Child Custody Issues Involving Artificial Insemination or Conception?

Parents who chose artificial insemination may also be faced with significant child custody issues. The only way for a non-biological parent to obtain legal rights is by obtaining a court order and consent from the biological mother of the baby.

Do I Need A Lawyer for My Child Custody Issue?

You should speak with a family law attorney if you have any questions about child custody laws involving unmarried parents. Our family law attorneys can provide guidance to help you assert your legal rights as a parent. If needed, our attorneys can also represent your best interests in court.

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs. 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

Speak With Family Law Attorneys In Scottsdale

We are experienced family law attorneys and will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. You can trust us to competently represent your case, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation!

We have years of experience with child custody and guardianship issues in Phoenix and Scottsdale . We will address your case with concern and personal attention, and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when generating legal solutions.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Child Custody Laws in Arizona

Looking to learn about Arizona child custody laws? When parents divorce or separate, care for the child or children must continue. The court will decide a parenting plan concerning their welfare and health if the parents are unable to agree on a plan concerning the raising of the children. This frequently establishes which parent will have the role of primary caregiver and how much time they will spend with each of their parents.

In certain situations, relatives, unmarried parents or other persons who may or may not be directly related to the parents may petition the court for parenting time or custody. The court will always base their decision on the best interests of the child or children involved.

What is Legal Decision Making and Child Custody?

The legal term “custody” refers to a person’s right to make decisions about the welfare and care of a child, such as decisions regarding health care, education and religious training. Collectively, these rights are call “Legal Decision Making” custody rights.

When a parent has custody, they are frequently referred to as the “custodial parent.” It is often the case the child resides with the custodial parent for most of the time. The law does not favor one form of custody and the gender of the parent is irrelevant.

What is Parenting Time?

Also referred to as “contact,” “residential time” or “visitation” is a legal term to give the child the opportunity to spend time with one parent or the other.  If one parent retains sole Legal Decision Making rights, the other parent is referred to as the “non-custodial parent.”

Parenting time and custodial issues often arise when parents ask the court for a legal separation or a dissolution of a marriage. However, custody problems may also happen between parents who were never married or no longer reside together in the same dwelling.  These problems do not disappear once the divorce has been finalized. Parents sometimes disagree regarding healthcare decisions for the child, their education, where the child resides and how much parenting time and access to the child the non-custodial parent should have.

Who Decides Parenting Time?

If parents cannot come to an agreement between themselves, the Arizona legal system refers to the arising situations to the local superior court judges who are the only ones who may decide outstanding issues.  If you disagree with the lower trial court’s decision, you can appeal to a 3-judge panel at the Arizona Court of Appeals and then later to the Arizona Supreme Court if necessary.

Can The Court Grant Custody To More Than One Parent?

Yes, they can. As well as sole custody, the court can choose to grant joint Legal Decision Making and joint physical parenting time or both.

What Does Joint Custody Mean?

It means joint physical Parenting Time and joint Legal Decision Making. To obtain this the parents must agree and submit a written plan for parenting to the court for review.

Can More Than One Parent Be Granted Custody By The Court?

Yes. In addition to sole custody, the law allows the court to grant joint legal custody and joint physical custody, or both.

What Is Legal Decision Making?

Legal Decision Making is the status where one or both parents are responsible for making the major decisions regarding the child’s care or welfare. When sole Legal Decision Making is awarded to one parent, it is called “sole Legal Decision Making.” The law does not favor one form of custody over another.

What Is Joint Legal Decision Making?

When joint custody is granted by the court the same rights about the child’s welfare and care is afforded to both the parents and neither parent’s right takes priority of the other. In the child’s best interest,

the court may determine certain decisions would be the responsibility of one parent even on the occasions joint legal custody has been awarded. The court may also order legal custody that is joint without ordering joint physical Parenting Time.

If Parents Have Joint Legal Decision Making, Does the Child Live With Each Of Them For Equal Amounts Of Time?

Not always. Having joint Legal Decision Making doesn’t mean parents also have equal Parenting Time or joint physical custody. See section 25-403, Arizona Revised Statutes for further details.

What is Joint Parenting Time?

When joint Parenting Time is granted, the place where the child resides is shared between the two parents in a manner that the child will have equal contact and time with both parents. Joint Parenting Time may be granted in scenarios where parents share joint Legal Decision Making or where one parent is granted the sole Legal Decision Making of the child or children.

Does The Law Favor Joint Custody or Sole Custody?

The law in Arizona does not prefer one form of custody over another type. The court is also excluded from giving preference to a parent as custodian based on the gender of the parent.  The first presumption is that custody will be 50%/50% absent the parental fitness of a particular parent.  Parental fitness can be questioned based on criminal history, DUIs, domestic violence, or substance abuse in the past 12 months.

What Are The Procedures For Obtaining A Custody order?

There are only certain cases where a court may grant a custody order. For example, when parents are seeking a legal divorce or separation, a court determines custody.  Or, when parents request the court to alter or change a previous custodial decision that was made in a proper divorce or separation case. Custody may also be ordered when one unmarried parent initiates a court case to determine maternity or paternity of a child.

When a parent faces legal separation or divorce and a court case is started and they cannot agree on the issues surrounding the custody of a child, it becomes an automatic issue for the court to determine and decide. These court decisions are made in hearings when they grant temporary orders and in the final trial if the parents are still incapable of reaching a mutual agreement. Once a decree of divorce or legal separation has been granted, the court still has the authority to change or make modifications to an earlier established child custody order.  One cannot typically revisit custody orders until a year has passed from the earlier established custody orders.

How Can A Custody Order Made By The Court be Changed Or Altered?

Either parent can request the court modify a child custody order but must make the request in writing. However, it must be shown the change in the order is in the best interests of the child and that there has been a substantial and continuing change of circumstances since the original custody orders were issued.

The Clerk of the Superior Court receives the modification request and a filing fee is charged – however, there are limitations on requesting a modification. A request may not be filed for one year from the date of the earlier order unless there are circumstances endangering mental, physical, moral or emotional health. If there is an order for a form of joint custody, a modification can be requested at any time if there is evidence that spousal abuse, child abuse or domestic violence has occurred since the date of when the last child custody court order was granted. A parent must wait a period of six months before seeking a modification to the existing order if the request for a modification is that one parent has not obeyed the previous order of the court in a joint custody situation.

How Does A Court Make The Custody Decision?

In a custody dispute, the court, on occasion, will refer the parents to mediation services operated internally by the court system. This is an opportunity for the parents to reach an amicable agreement regarding custody and other related issues. Nonetheless, if the parents are unable to come to an agreement, the court will make the decision for them. The court will sometimes seek professional advice from specialists who will perform a family evaluation to offer a professional viewpoint regarding the custody issues. In certain situations, the court may also order an investigation to be an outside agency of social services. In every case, the court must determine custody in what will be the best interests of the child moving forward.

What Happens When Parents Agree On The Custody Decision?

It is usually for the best if both parents can agree on the decisions raising the children following a divorce or a legal separation. The parents’ mutual decision is usually accepted by the courts. However, the determination of the court must be made in the child’s best interests. After review of the terms of the agreement, the court has a duty required by law to examine the agreement made by their parents and in some cases may not validate it.

In Custody Disputes, What Does the Court Consider when Determining What is in the Best Interests of The Child?

Arizona state law provides guidance to the court by listing factors and considerations to take into account. these include:

  • The parents’ wishes.
  • The wishes of the child or children if they are sufficiently mature.
  • How the child interacts with each parent and any other children in the family unit.
  • The health of every person involved in the situation.
  • The child’s adjustment to school, community, and home.
  •  The parent who has provided care most in the past.
  • The parent who is most likely to allow the child to have meaningful and frequent contact with the other parent.

The court must also consider whether there is a history of domestic violence in the family, alcohol or drug abuse by a parent or other situation potentially endangering the mental, physical, moral or emotional health of the child. The court will make a presumption that an award of custody to a parent guilty of committing an act of domestic violence is contrary to the best interests of the child.

What If The Parents Desire To Have Joint Legal Decision Making?

When parents request joint Legal Decision Making, they also must submit a written parenting plan indicating how they will cooperate to care and raise the child or children. The court can order joint Legal Decision Making without the provision of joint physical custody. The court may also order joint Legal Decision Making even over the objection of one of the parents. As ever, the court’s decision will be made by serving the child’s best interests and the court’s decision reigns supreme.

How Does A Parent Obtain Child Support Once Custody has Been Decided?

The law says that the court must also decide what amount of child support should be paid by each parent under the Arizona Child Support Guidelines when the court has granted a custody order. It does not mean in a situation of joint Legal Decision Making that either parent no longer carries the responsibility to provide for the support of a child or children.

Can A Person Other Than a Parent Have Custody?

A person who stands in loco parentis to a child may ask the court for custody. To qualify as in loco parentis, the person must have been treated as a parent by the child and formed a meaningful parental style relationship with the child for a substantial amount of time. Also, one of the child’s parents must be deceased, the parents must be unmarried or there is a pending court case for divorce or legal separation, (see section 25-415, Arizona Revised Statutes).

How Can A Parent Obtain Medical School And Other Records Of Their Children After Divorce?

A person who stands in loco parentis to a child may ask the court for custody. To qualify as a loco parentis, the person must have been treated as a parent by the child and formed a meaningful parental style relationship with the child for a substantial amount of time. Also, one of the child’s parents must be deceased, the parents must be unmarried or there is a pending court case for divorce or legal separation, (see section 25-415, Arizona Revised Statutes).

When May A Parent With Custody Move From Arizona With The Child?

When both parents reside in Arizona, the parent who has physical custody must give 60 days’ notice to the other parent before the child may be moved a distance greater than 100 miles from the other parent or from the state. This period gives enough time for the nonmoving parent to request a hearing in writing to prevent the move.  Litigation is almost assured on relocation requests.

What If My Job Requires An Immediate Transfer In Less Than 60 Days?

In this case, you must have joint Parenting Time of the child and have the agreement of both parents or a court order that allows the movement of the child. If an agreement cannot be reached in less than 60 days, a moving parent must file a request with the court.

Why Is Parenting Time Important?

A child deserves a good relationship with both parents. The child should have the opportunity to spend time with each parent when the parents do not live together.  The law presumes that a maximum allocation of 50% custody should be awarded absent parental fitness issues.

What Parenting Time Rights Does A Parent Have?

State law entitles a parent reasonable rights for parenting time ensuring the child has continuing and frequent contact with the parent. However, parenting time can be limited or even denied if the child’s moral, mental, physical or emotional health would be seriously endangered by parenting time with a parent.

What Amount Of Parenting Time Is Right?

It depends on the child’s age and development. For example, with a newborn child, lengthy periods of visitation may not be appropriate in favor of more frequent and shorter visits. Ultimately the courts decide how much parenting time is important to the child and this can differ from county to county in Arizona. The Arizona Supreme Court also has published a host of Model Parenting Time Plans to assist parents in the establishment of age-related parenting time schedules. If the parents cannot agree, the court decides parenting time on a case by case basis.  For a copy of these plans click here.  https://www.azcourts.gov/portals/31/parentingTime/PPWguidelines.pdf

What is Reasonable Parenting Time?

This means the average amount of time spent with a child for most cases. Sometimes the term is used in parenting plans and even in court orders. it depends on the circumstances of each family, considering the development and age of the child. When described as “reasonable” it is tough to predict for how long or when parenting time periods should occur.

The parenting time order should be specifically written so it enables the court the ability to enforce the order if it is not followed and one parent decides to file a request for enforcement.

Is Parenting Time and Custody Related?

Yes, both terms mean the same thing.  As part of the custody order, the court will determine the appropriate amount of Parenting Time. Even if the parents share joint Legal Decision Making, the child may live primarily with one parent or share residential time with both parents, impacting the scheduled Parenting Time that has been ordered.

Do I Have To Start A Court Case To Have Parenting Time?

Parents have the freedom to agree on the best parenting time plan for their child.  Only if the parents cannot agree will court action be needed. If you recall, only the Superior Court can decide issues of parenting time and declare an order than can been enforced should disagreements arise.

How Do I Obtain A Legal Order For Parenting Time?

The court will only grant a parenting order in certain types of cases. Usually, parenting time is determined when the parents seek a divorce or legal separation or when parents ask the court for a change or alteration to custody orders be made. It may also be ordered with one parent starts a paternity case or following a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.

Once a decree of divorce or legal separation has been granted, the court retains the authority to modify an earlier parenting time order. Either parent has to request in writing to the court what the parenting time should be and file it with the Clerk of the Superior Court – a filing fee will be due at the time of filing.

How Does The Court Make Its Decision For Parenting Time?

When there is a custody dispute the court may refer the parents to court mediation services giving parents the chance to come to a mutual agreement. However, if the parties are unable to agree, the court must take the decision. Factors the court will consider include:

  • The health and age of the child.
  • The time available to each parent away from their work and obligations.
  • The distance between the homes of the parents.
  • The school schedule of the child.
  • The suitability of living conditions in the home of each parent.

What If A Parent Disobeys A Court Order For Parenting Time?

When a parent commits a violation of the parenting time order, the other parent cannot deny them parenting time, stop the payment of child support or take other self-created action as a way of inflicting punishment on the other parent. However, the court should be asked to help. The parents must file a written request with the Clerk of The Superior court and pay a filing fee. A hearing may be scheduled if the matter cannot be resolved amicably.  Parents usually file a Motion To Enforce.

What Can The Court Do If A Parenting Time Order Is Disobeyed?

When a parent files a request for helping to enforce parenting time the state has an obligation to act quickly. The court has several remedies available, including:

  • Ordering immediate parenting time with the purpose of making up lost sessions.
  • Ordering the parent guilty of the violation to attend counseling or education classes.
  • Finding the parent in violation in contempt of court and ordering monetary sanctions and fees. (see section 25-414, Arizona Revised Statutes).

Can A Person Other Than A Parent Have Parenting Time?

In certain situations, Arizona law permits great-grandparents and grandparents to have parenting time rights if it is in the child’s best interests. In order to request parenting time, the parents of the child must have been divorced at least three months, one parent must be deceased or missing for three months or the child must have been born out of wedlock (see section 25-409, Arizona Revised Statutes). The law also provides a person who stands in loco parentis to a child may ask for parenting time. There are other requirements to be met before this request may be brought to the court (see section 25-415, Arizona Revised Statutes).

What Is Supervised Parenting Time?

On occasion to prevent harm to the emotional development or health of a child, a court will order a social services agency or qualified mental health professional to be involved with a family to ensure parenting time (and custody) orders are followed. The court may also order a third party to supervise or oversee the parenting time periods and in some cases, the exchange of the child is witnessed and supervised by a third party to diminish the conflict between the parents in front of the child.

After Legal Paternity Has Been Established How Are Custody And Parenting Time Decided?

Custody and parenting time can only be decided by the Superior Court based on the child’s best interests. If the court must establish paternity, they will also automatically decide custody and matters concerning parenting time. If paternity has been established voluntarily through the court, the Arizona Department of Health Services or the Department of Economic Security hospital paternity program, one of the parents have the responsibility to a file a specific request with the Superior Court to have parenting time or custody decided legally.

If The Parents Are Not Married, Should The Mother Have Custody?

The law presumes custody of the child belongs to the mother until legal paternity is decided. When a court legally establishes paternity, the law says that unless the court orders otherwise, the custody of the child should be with the parent who the child has lived with for most of the six-month period before paternity is established. Once the course has determined parenting time or custody, the decision is always in the child’s best interests. Therefore, the court may order either or both parents have custody if it is the best interests of the child to do so.

Read More About

Child Custody Battles Between Unmarried Parents

Child Custody Rights for Mothers

Child Custody Rights for Fathers

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs. 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

Speak With Our Child Custody Attorneys In Scottsdale

Our child custody and guardianship attorneys in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with concern and personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions.

We are experienced family law attorneys and will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. We shall represent you fully, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

Written by Canterbury Law Group

What are Mother’s Rights In Child Custody?

When deciding a mother’s rights in child custody, the court must determine whether the parents of the child were married at the time of birth. Custody rules that apply to unmarried parents are different than those that are married depending on the jurisdiction.

Child custody cases are often complicated, but when the parents have the child or children out of wedlock, gaining parental rights can make the process of establishing child custody even more complicated.

When a couple is unmarried and has a child together, by law, the custody of the child is automatically granted to the mother. However, the biological father has options to pursue custody through the court system.

The biological father of the child can request to the court for custody of the child. As the initial and primary caretaker of the child, the mother initially has the right to make all decisions concerning the child’s welfare, including:

  • Who sees the child and for how long?
  • Where the child lives
  • Where the child goes to school
  • All medical decisions concerning the child
  • Public benefits concerning the child

The right to do anything else a parent with legal custody may decide, such as:

  • Academic Decisions (school district selections)
  • Religious Decisions
  • Personal Care
  • Medical Decisions
  • Any other important details concerning the child’s life.

Nevertheless, with the progression of same-sex rights, there is a growing number of non-traditional families that have custody challenges. In this case, it is plausible that the mother’s rights in child custody will comprise of two female mothers. One mother could be the child’s birth mother, and the other possibly could have donated an egg or just have been a supportive partner and parental figure.

As the emerging law in these cases is not set and clear like it is for heterosexual parents, it is harder to say what is relevant in deciding the custody rights for two mothers. Regardless, essentially the same basic principles will apply, and it may not necessarily affect the rights of the parents in this situation.

How Mother’s Rights Are Determined For A Child Born To Married Parents?

As for children who are born to married parents, many courts in the past went with the mother when awarding child custody.  As gender roles have changed and more women work outside of the home, these past presumptions no longer apply. These days, a lot of custody laws are gender neutral, meaning they won’t favor mothers over fathers.

Because of this, courts must take into consideration the child’s best interests when awarding custody. However, it is no easy matter to determine how to win custody as a mother, but it is good to keep in mind that most courts, even ones in other states, will focus on similar factors when considering the child’s best interests. These factors include:

  • The child’s emotional and physical health
  • How strong the bond of a parent-child relationship is with both parents
  • The stability of both parent’s home environment
  • The child’s ties to his or her school and community
  • The child’s relationships with other members of the family
  • Whether a parent has not paid their child support
  • Each parent’s propensity to provide for the child’s emotional and physical needs
  • Each parent’s devotion to actively parent the child
  • Any proof of any domestic violence or child abuse
  • What the child wants if the child is at a proper age.

In addition, it is important to realize the difference between physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is defined as the parenting time a parent physically spends with the child. When a parent has physical custody of a child, they are responsible for making basic, day-to-day parenting choices.

But legal custody (Legal Decision Making) involves your right to make important decisions for your child, such as the decisions listed above, including education, health care, and religion. Even though one parent may have primary physical custody, both parents usually share joint legal custody. In fact, in a lot of states, joint legal custody is presumed to be in the best interests of the child.

Can Custody Orders From The Court Be Changed or Modified?

In child custody situations, it is in a parent’s best interest to maintain a polite and cooperative relationship with the child’s other parent, if they are still in the picture. It is vital to remember that any open bitterness toward the child’s other parent may hurt a parent’s custody claim or result in a decrease in a parent’s physical custody time.

Furthermore, once a custody order is finalized, the parent must follow each of the conditions stipulated in the order. However, court-ordered child custody decisions can be changed or modified if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the order was finalized. Courts can modify an existing child custody order when there has been a substantial change in circumstances, such as:

  • A parent breaches the existing child custody orders
  • There is proof of domestic violence or child abuse
  • One parent has moved, making the current child custody order unrealistic
  • One parent has lost the capacity to care for the needs of the child
  • When the child’s needs have changed, and the existing order is no longer in the child’s best interests

In order to change or modify an existing child custody order, the parent must first file a petition with the court. The process to modify an existing child custody order varies from state-to-state, and, thus, you will likely need to seek the assistance of an experienced and well-qualified family law attorney well versed in child custody to help you through the process.

Read More About:

Child Custody Battles Between Unmarried Parents

Child Custody Rights For Fathers

Family Law & Child Custody Information

How To Get Custody Of A Child In Arizona (Process)


Should I Hire A Mother’s Rights Attorney To Help With Obtaining Child Custody?

Child custody can be a very complex process. Although having an attorney is not always needed, particularly in cases where the child was born out of wedlock, and the father is no longer in the picture, hiring a knowledgeable family law attorney well versed in child custody may still be in your best interest.

If you are involved in a child custody struggle with the other parent of the child or are seeking to alter an existing child custody order, the process is much more intricate, and an experienced family law attorney is required.

A family law attorney that focuses child custody will be able to help you through the entire process of acquiring or modifying an existing child custody order, as well as help you build a strong case for custody if it goes to court.

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs. 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

Sources

  1. LaMance, Ken. “Mother’s Rights in Child Custody.” LegalMatch Law Library, 22 Feb. 2018, www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/mothers-rights-in-child-custody.html.

Speak With Our Mother’s Rights Attorneys In Scottsdale

Our child custody and guardianship attorneys in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with concern and personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions.

We are experienced family law attorneys and will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. You can trust us to represent you fully, so you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

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