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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Prenuptial Agreement Pros And Cons

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In reality, marriage is more than just a romantic relationship – it is also a business relationship. This duality has led to the increase of prenuptial agreements (also known as a prenup or premarital agreement) so the financial interests of each spouse are protected.

Read on to learn more about the pros and cons you need to know regarding prenuptial agreements. Keep in mind these guidelines can change because state laws can differ.

Prenuptial Agreement Pros

  • Prenuptial agreements serve the purpose of protecting children and grandchildren’s inheritance rights from a former marriage.
  • A premarital agreement can protect a professional or business practice so it does not become divided and your former spouse does not have involvement or control of the business should you divorce.
  • A premarital agreement can protect a spouse who is debt-free from assuming debt obligations the other party has.
  • A premarital agreement can ensure you will be fairly compensated should you be giving up a successful and lucrative career should the marriage not survive.
  • A premarital agreement can put in writing any responsibility and decision making sharing the parties agree too, prior to marriage as well as addressing financial aspects of the marriage.
  • The amount of spousal support one spouse will have to pay the other if the divorce can be decided in a premarital agreement.
  • The finances of older persons or persons of substantial wealth entering into their second or more marriage can be protected with a premarital agreement.

Prenuptial Agreement Cons

  • You may have to concede your right to inheritance from the estate of your spouse when they pass away. However, the law states you are entitled to a portion of the estate if your spouse has not made a provision for such in their will.
  • You may be entitled to a share of the increase in the value of a business your spouse owns if you have made a contribution such as taking care of the home or entertaining clients. However, in a premarital agreement, you may not be entitled to claim a share of that increased value. In many states, the law says the value increase is marital property considered to be divisible.
  • A lack of trust may result from commencing a relationship with a contract at the outset.
  • It is tough to see how issues in the future may be handled so keep in mind, seemingly simple compromises made in the romantic period before marriage may have a significant impact later on.
  • A spouse who does not earn a wage or earns only a low wage may not be able to keep the lifestyle they have become used too while in a marriage if the agreement has spousal support limits the spouse has an entitlement too.
  • Every relationship has its honeymoon stage where a spouse who is in love will not make wise financial decisions as they cannot see the relationship ever terminating. A prenuptial agreement helps with this.

Get Professional Legal Assistance To See If A Prenup Is Right For You

If you, or you and your future spouse are together thinking about a premarital agreement, it is vital to look at the pros and cons at the outset. The experiences of a family law attorney can be very helpful and it is paramount each partner consults a different attorney from different law firms, to make sure the rights and interests of each partner are represented.

Source:

“Pros and Cons: Prenuptial Agreements.” Findlaw, family.findlaw.com/marriage/pros-and-cons-premarital-agreements-prenuptials.html.

Contact Our Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers in Scottsdale

Consulting with a talented Scottsdale prenuptial agreement lawyer or family law attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in drafting and litigating premarital agreements will save you a great deal of grief and expense in the future. Contact Canterbury Law Group today.

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

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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.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How To Get Emergency Child Custody In Arizona

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You may need to seek emergency child custody in Arizona (also known as legal decision making) when a situation threatens your child or children’s well-being. There are a specific set of guidelines you will need to adhere to in order to obtain emergency child custody in Arizona.

What Is an Emergency Child Custody Order?

A temporary order or emergency child custody order temporarily grants one parent or the other sole physical and legal custody for the child or children in question.

The order gives all the power to make decisions to the person or party who has the physical custody of the child or children for a limited amount of time until the court can hear the full case. Normally, the court only advances these orders into place when the child or children is facing potentially irreparable or significant harm.

Is Emergency Custody Something I Qualify For?

Emergency custody is not easy to obtain because the burden of proof must be carried by the person or party who petitioning for the temporary order.  The chances of obtaining emergency custody orders are exceptionally low, and you should expect to lose your motion.  Most judges will deny the initial ‘emergency’ motion for custody orders and instead set the matter for a normal hearing schedule where both sides can brief the issues and present live testimony at an evidentiary hearing.

Therefore, it is important the petitioner presents evidence that is substantial in order to document the situation to show it is a true emergency. This is where the services are of a family law attorney can be invaluable. Filing for temporary custody orders is not something you should take lightly. However, it is certainly a valid option if you think a child or children are at risk of imminent bodily harm or the welfare, safety, and health of a child or children is in serious jeopardy.

Another qualifying factor is you must also be concurrently filing a petition that would change the custody of the child or children. For example, a concurrent parenting time modification request, paperwork for a divorce or a change in legal decision-making responsibilities. The paperwork may already be pending, or it can be filed at the same time as your motion for temporary orders.

Penalties For False Claims

All filings to the Court are filed under penalty of perjury.  Petitions to the court are considered to be very serious by the court system. Frivolous filings will result in short-shrift from the system if there is not a genuine emergency. It is not acceptable to file a motion on the grounds that you may just be mad at the other parent. Indeed, the judge may find you in contempt of court and order you to pay the court costs as well as the costs and legal fees the other party has had accrued if the reason for the petition turns out to be false or unsubstantiated.

What Is The Length Of Emergency Child Custody In Arizona?

If your motion for temporary custody orders is granted, the order will only last until the court can schedule a more lengthy hearing that will decide custody on a more permanent solution.  While courts will usually host the next hearing within 30 days, and sometimes as quickly as 2 weeks, depending on the availability of the Court. See Title 25-404 for more details.

Guidelines For Filing For An Emergency Custody Order Of A Child Or Children In Arizona

In Arizona, there is a rule known as “Rule 48.” The rules say if two conditions are met, emergency custody of a child or children may be granted without the need to notify the other party. The two rules are:

  1. The person making the emergency custody request or the child or children may be at risk of harm if notice is given to the other person.
  2. There have been unsuccessful attempts at giving notice.

Temporary Filing Custody Steps

1. Filling Out The Paperwork

You can obtain the forms and instructions for filing them in Maricopa County here.

When you read the paperwork, it will clearly explain why the order is needed and to explain why there is an emergency situation. You do need to make sure this situation is truly an emergency before proceeding – you have to include as much evidence and factual detail as you possibly can. During this process of assembling facts to prove there is an emergency, the assistance of an attorney can be very important.

The form must be signed and dated in front of a notary public. You will be able to take care of this at the court.

2. Copy The Paperwork

All told you will have four copies of the paperwork. The original that you keep and three copies that you leave behind with the Clerk of Court after you file.

3. Filing The Papers At The Court

Take the four copies of your paperwork to the clerk of the court. You can use this website to find out where your paperwork must be filed or if you need to ask further questions regarding the process.

What Takes Place In A Hearing For Emergency Custody?

The court will usually schedule the initial hearing with very little delay – often without the other parent being present. You will have to present the evidence you have been able to gather and present it under penalty of perjury. Examples of this can include:

  • Photos
  • Sworn statements
  • Testimonies from agencies such as Child Protective Services
  • Medical Records

The judge will have to decide if there is sufficient evidence and if so, they will then issue an emergency order. The order will stand until a follow-up hearing where the other party is able to present evidence that defends against the allegations made against your evidence. This timeframe will differ from court to court depending on how busy the court dockets are.

Resources:

Sources:

“How Do I Get Emergency Custody In Arizona?” Arizona Legal Center, 5 Nov. 2018, arizonalegalcenter.org/emergency-custody-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 we 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 fiercely 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 used as legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs. 480-240-0040 or [email protected]

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How Can a Father Prove a Mother Unfit?

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Judges see parental fitness as an essential part of a child custody decision. Deciding what is in the best interest of the child factors in looking at the standing of the parents. If one of the parents is more stable than the other, judges can choose to award sole custody (sole legal decision making) to the more stable parent. And as a result, parental suitability is often instrumentally used in custody battles. Each state has its own set of rules as regards to what makes an unfit parent. Despite that, there are some generally accepted grounds that a parent can use to prove that the other parent is unfit. These include neglect, mental illness, abuse, drug or alcohol abuse and incarceration.

How Do I Find a Father’s Rights Attorney Near Me?

If you are in the Scottsdale area, our Father’s Rights Attorneys can help! Our Child Custody lawyers will address your case with concern and personal attention, and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions.

1. Research the Criteria for Your State

Research your state’s statutes to find the criteria to deem a parent unfit. Usually, these statutes are found in the family or juvenile codes. Visit your states court website or other online service providers to find the requirements for your state.

2. Collect Evidence to Prove the Mother is Unfit

Collect evidence proving that the other parent is unfit. Evidence that can be submitted in court can include pictures, video and/ or audio files of verbal physical or abuse, recorded medical files that document injuries, the parent’s criminal history and direct communication between the petitioner and the other parent. The evidence needs to be strong and impartial. Courts are inclined to protect the parent-child relationship and will not rule a parent unfit without substantial and hard evidence.

3. Schedule an Appointment with Medical and Mental Health Professionals

Schedule an appointment with medical and mental health professionals for an evaluation of your child. Depending upon any current custody (legal decision making) requirements, this step may need to wait until there is a court-ordered evaluation. In certain cases, the consent of each parent may be necessary for such evaluations.

4. Locate and Download your Appropriate State Forms

Locate and download the appropriate forms from your states court website or another online document provider. State child custody laws have strict rules in regard to what court holds jurisdiction over such matters. You will need either a Motion to Modify Child Custody order or a Petition for Custody form, depending on if there is already an order currently in place or not.

5. Fill Out the Forms

Fill out and complete the forms. Enter the information that includes parental contact information, any related court cases, the child’s name, birth date, and current living situation and the reason for petition or modification. Include the grounds for their unfitness and the evidence collected to back up your claim. Sign the form and make sure to make a copy for your records.

6. File the Forms with the Appropriate Court

File the forms and any attachments with the correct court. Review your state regulations to find out whether this will be a family or juvenile court in the county where the child lives or some other type of requirement. Jurisdiction over child custody cases will vary from state to state. If it is a petition for revision, file the papers where they were originally filed. The clerk will then assign a case number.

7. Have the Documents Served to the Other Parent

Have the documents personally served on the other parent by a licensed process server. Go over the service of process rules for the appropriate court. Service rules differ by their jurisdiction, but typically requires in-person service by a law enforcement agency, a private process server or an adult over 18 and that is impartial to the suit. Provide proof of services form for the individual to complete. Deliver the proof of service form back to the court clerk.

8. Go to the Hearing and Explain Why you Requested the Hearing

Go to the hearing. Explain why you are requesting the hearing and provide an explanation for the petition. Make sure to be concise and clear. Produce original copies of the evidence proving your unfit parent claim. Bring the original copies of the evidence you collected against the parent that backs up your claim. This will include any witness testimony, medical or school records validating your claim that the parent is unfit and that it’s not in the child’s best interest to remain in her care. After hearing both sides, the court might rule or order a child custody evaluation. The evaluation will include a comprehensive review of both parents and the child. The evaluator is an impartial party who will evaluate each home environment, interview friends and family and schedule psychological testing for everyone involved.

9. Participate in the Child Custody Evaluation

If necessary, participate in the court-ordered child custody evaluation.

10. Attend the Hearing

Attend the hearing for the judge’s ruling.

Source:

Stevens, Alisa. “How to Prove a Parent Unfit in Child Custody Cases.” LegalZoom Legal Info, 21 Nov. 2017, info.legalzoom.com/prove-parent-unfit-child-custody-cases-21345.html.

Read More About:

What Are The Chances Of A Father Getting Full Custody?

How Can a Father Get Full Custody?

Child Custody Rights For Mother’s

Family Law & Child Custody Information

Tips For Fathers Trying To Get Custody

Tips For Fathers Going Through Divorce In Scottsdale

Understanding Parenting Time Under Arizona Law

Speak with Our Father’s Rights Attorneys in Scottsdale

Our Father’s Rightschild custody, and guardianship attorneys in Phoenix and Scottsdale address 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!

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

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How Can A Father Get Full Custody?

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In 2013, new statutes and child custody laws were introduced by the Arizona Legislature. From January 1 of that year, some popular terms (still frequently used) were changed. In our article, there are still references to the more popularly used terms. For example, the terms, “child custody,” “sole custody”, and “joint custody” became “legal decision making”, “sole legal decision making” and “joint legal decision making.” This new statute also changed “child visitation” to “parenting time.”

This means parents now get “sole legal decision making” with “parenting time” rights. or they may get “joint legal decision making” and “parenting time.” “Sole legal decision making” may be given by a court to one parent – so that parent, for example, can be responsible for making major decisions regarding the medical care of the child – at the same time, the other parent has “sole legal decision making” giving them authority to make educational decisions for the child or children.

How Do I Find a Father’s Rights Attorney Near Me?

If you are in the Scottsdale area, our Father’s Rights Attorneys can help! Our Father’s Rights lawyers will address your case with concern and personal attention, and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions.

Can A Father Get Full Custody In Arizona?

Generally speaking, most courts will prefer that both parents share child custody (legal decision making). However, there are some situations where a court might grant full custody to the father. But, you should be prepared for a child custody battle if the mother is also seeking sole legal decision making.

It is understandable to procrastinate from filing because of concerns with child custody. Custody laws in Arizona are applied by one judge, not a jury, who will make a determination if joint custody or sole custody will be awarded to the parents of the child or children. The initial step in this process is accepting that you are filing for divorce or responding to a petition for a dissolution of marriage is to examine the various scenarios that can arise with child custody and developing an understanding of child custody laws in Arizona. From that point, you can then make a determination as to how you may be able to win full custody of your child or children and know how you can prepare for the upcoming child custody case.

Getting Full Custody In Arizona

Under child custody laws in Arizona, sole custody is now known as “sole legal decision making” – meaning one person has the sole legal custody of the children or child. This specific individual has the responsibility for making major decisions regarding the care of the child or children for medical care, academics, religion and personal care (e.g. tattoos, piercings).

Arizona child custody laws permit both parents having input into issues that arise but the designated parent (by the court) is the “sole legal decision maker” and makes the final decision if both parents cannot come to an agreement. Child support and legal decision making are totally unrelated under Arizona law. Obtaining sole custody of the child or children does not alter the obligation of child support – that is decided (in part) by the amount of time you spend with your child or children. What are the chances of a Father Getting Full Custody?

Joint Custody vs Sole Custody In Arizona

Under Arizona law, there is no legal presumption favoring one parent or one gender. This means the court often decides both parents should make decisions 50%/50%.  In these cases, “Joint Legal Decision Making” means both parents share the important decision-making for the child or children on an equal footing. In turn, most courts will view a 50%/50% “Equal Parenting Time” arrangement the most common solution for most divorces.  The physical custody (including control of the child or children) are equally distributed between the parents holding joint physical parenting time or on some other agreed schedule of parenting that best serves the interests of the child or children.

It is understandable for people to be concerned about the outcome of the case when they are in the middle of the divorce process. Obviously, one of the most significant disputed issues is child custody. However, once you understand the kinds of custody the court may consider- it is vitally important to recall the law has no preference to a single form of custody over another. Neither does the court prefer one parent ahead of the other because of the gender of the parents.

What You Need to Prove to Get Sole Custody

Sole legal decision making, or sole legal custody, sometimes known as full custody will be considered when it is in the best interests of the child or children in Arizona. You can file for sole custody when you think joint custody is not appropriate for your situation. If sole custody is granted by the court, it would mean you have the authority to make all post-decree decisions regarding educational, religious and medical issues for the child or children concerned in the divorce.

Here are some reasons the court may grant sole custody:

  • History of child abuse
  • History of alcohol or drug abuse
  • History of domestic violence
  • History of and current mental health problems.
  • Criminal history.

When your spouse has any or all of those issues, you may want to think about a request for the sole custody of your child or children. Taking into account the best interests of your child or children, the court will then make a determination to decide whether to award sole custody. Read more about how to get custody of a child in Arizona.

Source:

  1. How to Get Sole Custody in Arizona | Hildebrand Law, PC.” Scottsdale Arizona Family Law & Divorce Attorneys, www.hildebrandlaw.com/child-custody-laws-in-arizona-2/how-to-get-sole-custody-in-arizona.aspx.
  2. Rau, Alia Beard. “New Child Custody Law Begins Jan. 1.” Azcentral.com, 25 Dec. 2012, archive.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20121220new-chidl-custody-law-january.html.

Speak with Our Father’s Rights Attorneys In Scottsdale

Our Father’s Rightschild custody, and guardianship attorneys in Phoenix and Scottsdale address 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!

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

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How to Win Child Custody

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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.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Modification of Parenting Time in Arizona

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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]

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

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

If you’re looking for how to get custody of a child in Arizona, this post should help. Here is a step by step guide on the process of getting custody of a child in Arizona.

If this is the first time you are meeting with an Arizona family attorney about child custody, paternity matter, or child support, you absolutely want to know what to expect throughout the legal process. To help get yourself ready for what lies ahead, you should at least get a comprehensive idea of how long the process will take, what costs it might entail, what is required of you, and what you ought to expect. Not all these things can be decided precisely this early in the process but the more information you collect up front, the better off you will be in the end.

In Arizona, establishing a child-custody case take at least three months but, in some cases can take up to a year and occasionally even longer. The “even longer” part is likely not what you want to hear, but it is essential to be realistic and know that these matters are going to take time. The largest variable on the length of time and cost is whether you and the other parent can come together to reach full agreement on everything that needs to be decided. If you can do that, then you can get an uncontested decree and parenting plan usually within 90 days (judge’s order). If the other side fails to reply or be involved in the process, or doesn’t do so in a timely manner, you might be able to obtain a default judgment. If not, the case becomes a contested affair with evidentiary hearing(s) and/or a trial, this can take 6 to 24 months.

Listed below is a high-level step-by-step outline of usual establishment proceedings in Arizona family courts. Some of these steps may not apply, subject to the nature of the matter and the direction it is going take.

Fill Out And File The Papers To Start The Case

You must start with the somewhat tedious exercise of filling out the many forms the court requires to start a case. These documents include:

  • The Family Court cover sheet/Sensitive Datasheet, which includes confidential data commonly wanted by identity thieves, like birthdates and Social Security numbers. The court will retain this information and will never share it with the other party.
  • The cover sheet (an individual one may not be needed, depending on the county).
  • The Summons to Appear/Respond.
  • A Petition to Establish Paternity, Child Support, Child Custody (Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time), usually depending on the nature of the case.
  • The Notice of Appearance. This is only filed with the court if an attorney is representing you from the start of the matter.

Although it can change, the present filing fee for a Petition in Maricopa County is $349.00. For a Response, the filing fee in Maricopa County is $269.00. The total fees may differ in other counties in Arizona.  If you cannot afford the filing fees, you can apply for a fee-waiver by using the fee waiver form.

Process Serve The Other Party

The fastest, easiest, and most affordable way to serve the other party is through certified mail with a return receipt and restricted delivery. You absolutely need to use restricted delivery if anyone else lives with the other party who might unknowingly sign for the delivery, which would void the service. The cost for certified mail is around $10.00 to $15.00, depending on the weight and whether you ask for a postcard to be returned and/or electronic verification.

If the other party denies or fails to sign for the certified mail, with the knowledge or suspect they are being served legal papers, then you will have to hire a licensed process server. This will usually cost you from $75.00 to around $125.00, depending on the provider, how far away they must drive to find the person, and how hard he or she is trying to avoid service.

If you are incapable of serving the other party by certified mail or process server, you can petition the court for approval to serve by different methods. You must prove you have depleted all reasonable ways first or have no idea where to find the person. Service by posting is one alternative. This involves a process server physically attaching a posting and court papers in a prominent place on the person’s last known residence. Service by publication is an additional option. It requires placing a legal notice in a newspaper of general distribution in the county where the person was last known to reside, for at least four weeks in a row. The cost is typically between $100.00 and $200.00, depending on the type of publication. The publication will give you a price up front, get the legal notice prepared, and provide confirmation of publication.

Take A Parenting Class

If the court requests that you to take a parenting class, don’t take it personally. This doesn’t mean you are a lousy parent. It is just another required step in the process.  Most counties require mandatory parenting classes, many of which can be satisfied online.

You must take a verified parenting course within 45 days after the Respondent’s papers are served. The cost is $50.00. If you’re in Maricopa County, visit the Arizona Superior Court’s website on the Parent Information Program or Approved Parent Information Program Classes. Or give the Family Court Conciliation Services a call at 602-506-1448.

Wait To File A Consent Decree

If you and the other party come to an agreement on all conditions of the child custody concerns that the court requires you to resolve, and if you both entirely agree with each other even after the filing of the petition, all you need to do is wait at the mandatory 60 days “cooling off period” after service is affected to submit a proposed consent decree that both parties have signed. You may need to wait a couple of days up to a couple of weeks for a judge to get around to signing it—usually they have up to 60 days to sign—but you should get the order no more than three months or so after beginning the process.

It is plausible you may need to attend at least one court hearing. The law says a hearing is the judge’s choice if it involves one or more children. But judges are always busy, they may not make you do so. Every case is different.

Wait For A Response

If the other party is served in Arizona, he or she has 20 days to respond (usually 25 days if the other party was served by mail). If the other party is served out-of-state, he or she has 30 days to respond (35 days if served by mail). You don’t count the day the other person is served. You start counting from the day after that and includes weekends and the holidays. Additionally, if the last day falls on a holiday or weekend, then the other party has up until the end of the next business day to file a response.

File For A Default Judgment

If the other party doesn’t ever file a written response, you can ask the court to start default proceedings against him or her for failure to appear on time or file a response. He or she will get another 10 days’ clemency period after that to file a response without penalty. If the other party still doesn’t file a response, then you would file a final petition for a default judgment along with a suggested default decree. It’s possible you will get everything you asked for in the petition, as long as it is within reason. Nevertheless, you still have to wait at least 90 days from the filing date to petition before a judge will sign off on the default decree.

Go To Court

If the other party files a written response, the clerk’s office automatically refers the case to the appointed judge’s division for his or her assistant to set up a Resolution Management Conference. At this initial hearing, the judge needs to hear from both parties as to whether any kind of agreement has been reached on any of the terms of the subject. He or she may also refer both parties to Conciliation Court for mediation if there are any leftover terms that need to be addressed. If this doesn’t end up in a full agreement, the court eventually sets a date for trial.

If you must go to court, make sure you get represented by a knowledgeable and experienced Arizona family law attorney. You and your family are way too important for you to try by yourself.  Going to trial without a lawyer is like going golfing without clubs, or going shopping without money—it just does not work.

*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 One Of Our Child Custody Attorneys In Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group’s child custody  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 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]

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Child Custody Battles Between Unmarried Parents

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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.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Child Custody Laws in Arizona

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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

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*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]

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