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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Types of Child Custody Orders

Child custody orders determine the legal authority and responsibilities of parents or guardians regarding the care, upbringing, and decision-making for their children. These orders can vary depending on the specific needs and circumstances of the family, and they may include various types of custody arrangements. Here are some common types of child custody orders:

1. Legal Custody

  1. Joint Legal Custody:
    • Both parents share the authority to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing, including education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities.
    • Joint legal custody does not necessarily require equal parenting time or physical custody.
  2. Sole Legal Custody:
    • One parent has the sole authority to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing without input from the other parent.
    • Sole legal custody may be awarded if one parent is deemed unfit or if there is a history of conflict or inability to cooperate between the parents.

2. Physical Custody

  1. Joint Physical Custody:
    • The child spends significant time living with both parents, and they share physical custody of the child.
    • Joint physical custody arrangements may be equal (50/50) or substantially shared, depending on the specific needs and circumstances of the family.
  2. Sole Physical Custody:
    • The child primarily resides with one parent, and the other parent may have visitation rights or parenting time according to a schedule determined by the court.
    • Sole physical custody may be awarded if it is determined to be in the best interests of the child or if one parent is unable to provide a stable and suitable living environment.

3. Split Custody

  1. Split Custody:
    • In split custody arrangements, siblings are divided between the parents, with each parent having primary physical custody of at least one child.
    • Split custody arrangements are relatively rare and may be considered if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the children involved.

4. Bird’s Nest Custody

  1. Bird’s Nest Custody:
    • In bird’s nest custody, the child remains in the family home, and the parents take turns living with the child according to a set schedule.
    • This arrangement allows the child to maintain stability in their living environment while the parents rotate in and out of the home.

5. Temporary Custody Orders

  1. Temporary Custody Orders:
    • Temporary custody orders may be issued by the court during the pendency of a divorce or custody dispute to establish custody arrangements until a final decision can be made.
    • These orders are intended to provide stability and structure for the family while the legal process is ongoing.

Conclusion

Child custody orders are tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of each family and are designed to promote the best interests of the child. The type of custody order issued by the court will depend on factors such as the child’s age and preferences, the parents’ ability to cooperate, and any history of abuse or neglect. It’s essential for parents to understand their rights and responsibilities under the custody order and to work together in the best interests of their children

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Virtual Visitation

Virtual visitation, also known as electronic visitation or virtual parenting time, refers to the use of technology to facilitate communication and interaction between a non-custodial parent and their child. This method is particularly useful when physical visitation is not possible or practical due to distance, work schedules, health issues, or other constraints. Here are key aspects of virtual visitation:

Key Components of Virtual Visitation

  1. Technology Used:
    • Video Calls: Platforms like Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Meet allow for face-to-face interaction via video.
    • Phone Calls: Regular phone calls are a basic form of virtual visitation.
    • Text Messaging: Regular text messaging can help maintain daily communication.
    • Email: For longer, more detailed communication, sharing photos, and staying updated on events.
    • Social Media: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks can be used to share updates and stay connected.
    • Apps: There are specific apps designed for virtual visitation that provide secure communication and interactive features (e.g., OurFamilyWizard).
  2. Legal Recognition:
    • Court Orders: Virtual visitation can be included in custody agreements and court orders. It ensures that both parents have agreed to its use and establishes guidelines for frequency and duration.
    • State Laws: Some states have laws specifically recognizing and supporting virtual visitation. These laws ensure that virtual visitation is considered a legitimate form of maintaining parent-child relationships.
  3. Benefits:
    • Flexibility: Allows parents and children to connect despite geographical or logistical barriers.
    • Frequency: Can facilitate more frequent contact than traditional visitation schedules.
    • Emotional Bond: Helps maintain and strengthen the emotional bond between the non-custodial parent and the child.
    • Safety: Useful in situations where physical visitation might pose safety concerns (e.g., during a pandemic or if a parent is deployed).
  4. Challenges:
    • Technology Access: Requires access to reliable technology and internet connections for both parents and the child.
    • Technical Issues: Potential for technical difficulties that can interrupt communication.
    • Quality of Interaction: May not fully replace the benefits of in-person interaction, especially for younger children.
    • Scheduling Conflicts: Coordinating schedules for virtual visits can still be challenging.
  5. Best Practices:
    • Regular Schedule: Establish a regular schedule for virtual visits to provide consistency for the child.
    • Preparation: Ensure that both the technology and the environment are set up in advance to minimize interruptions.
    • Engagement: Engage in interactive activities during the virtual visit, such as reading together, playing online games, or helping with homework.
    • Respect: Both parents should respect the scheduled virtual visitation times and facilitate a positive experience for the child.

Virtual visitation is an effective tool for maintaining parent-child relationships when traditional in-person visitation is not feasible. By leveraging technology, non-custodial parents can stay connected with their children and participate in their lives more actively. Legal recognition and clear guidelines in custody agreements can help ensure that virtual visitation is used effectively and benefits all parties involved.

Many fathers assume they won’t have a fair trial when trying to obtain legal custody of their child. This is not true, although it is crucial to have experienced and trusted child custody help in Phoenix. The family law attorneys at Canterbury Law Group have years of experience recognizing and building formidable cases that will protect your interests and maximize your parenting time.

If you’re a father hoping for custody of your child, we have tips that may help you and your case:

1. Pay Child Support: A father who wants custody of a child should prioritize making regular child support payments. If he has an informal arrangement with the child’s mother, it is crucial to maintain records such as check receipts or a written letter from the child’s mother detailing the support arrangements. If a father is struggling with child support payments, he should request a modification rather than sacrificing a payment.

2. Maintain a Strong Relationship: Even if the child is not in the custody of the father, a relationship can still consistent. The dad should call the child frequently and check in on their day, schedule a time to stop by the child’s school and introduce himself to the administration and ensure the child knows that he’s there to offer any assistance necessary. A father who wants custody should also attend the child’s social, educational, religious and other important events as evidence of a continuing relationship with the child.

3. Keep Precise Records: A father should maintain an accurate visitation schedule record to help obtain child custody. A father can capture accurate visitation records by developing and maintaining a parenting plan.

4. Prepare a Space for Your Child At Home: A father should make a special place in his home for the child, regardless of the size of the home. A court will inquire about adequate living accommodations during all child custody hearings, so a father should be prepared to respond to the judge’s inquiry.

5. Consider Mediation: A father who wants custody of a child should consider mediation or arbitration, prior to undergoing an adversarial court hearing. In mediation or arbitration, cases are decided by a neutral third party. For a father, custody proceedings in a courtroom may be difficult to handle, so he may prefer the smaller, friendlier setting associated with mediation or arbitration.

Our legal team has extensive experience in child custody help in Scottsdale. We help fathers get fair and equitable treatment by the courts. Recent changes to Arizona law mandate that the court treat both mothers and fathers equally in the eyes of the law. If a man fears that his wife may leave and take the children, it is his obligation to ensure he takes steps needed to protect his role as the father. That may mean consulting an attorney before his wife has the opportunity to file for a divorce. The family law attorneys at Canterbury Law Group have significant expertise in father’s rights issues and can capably guide you through. Your children are counting on you to make the right decisions both before and after the divorce case has been filed.

Fathers Rights During Pregnancy
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Fathers Rights During Pregnancy

The rights of fathers during pregnancy can vary depending on legal jurisdiction and the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy. In general, fathers typically have certain rights and responsibilities during pregnancy, including:

  1. Legal Paternity Rights: If the father is legally recognized as the child’s father, he may have certain rights regarding custody, visitation, and decision-making regarding the child’s upbringing. Establishing paternity can vary depending on the laws of the jurisdiction.
  2. Support Obligations: Fathers are typically obligated to provide financial support for their child, including during pregnancy. This can include expenses related to prenatal care and childbirth.
  3. Medical Decision-making: In some jurisdictions, fathers may have the right to be involved in medical decisions related to the pregnancy and childbirth, particularly if they are married to the mother or if paternity has been legally established.
  4. Emotional Support and Involvement: Regardless of legal rights, many fathers choose to be actively involved in the pregnancy and childbirth process, providing emotional support to the mother and participating in prenatal appointments and childbirth classes.
  5. Parental Leave: Some jurisdictions provide paternity leave or other forms of parental leave that allow fathers to take time off work to support their partner during pregnancy and to bond with their newborn child after birth.

Does A Father Have Rights To An Unborn Child?

The extent of a father’s legal rights to an unborn child can vary depending on jurisdiction and specific circumstances. Generally, fathers do not have legal rights to an unborn child in the same way that they do to a child who has been born. However, once the child is born, assuming paternity is established, fathers typically have rights and responsibilities related to custody, visitation, and support.

Before the child is born, fathers may have limited legal rights, but they may still have certain responsibilities, such as providing financial support for the mother’s prenatal care and childbirth expenses. Some jurisdictions allow fathers to seek custody or visitation rights before the child is born through legal processes such as paternity establishment or seeking court orders.

In cases where the father and mother are married or in a legally recognized partnership, the father may have more rights and involvement in decisions related to the pregnancy and childbirth. However, if the parents are unmarried and paternity has not been established, the father’s rights may be more limited.

Establishing Legal Parenthood For Fathers

Establishing legal parenthood for fathers typically involves a few key steps, which may vary depending on the jurisdiction:

  1. Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity: In many places, if the parents are unmarried, they can establish paternity voluntarily by signing a legal document called an Acknowledgment of Paternity. This document is typically available at hospitals, birthing centers, or vital records offices. Both parents must sign the document, and it is usually filed with the appropriate government agency to establish the father’s legal rights and responsibilities.
  2. Genetic Testing: If there is a dispute about paternity or if the mother disputes the father’s claim of paternity, genetic testing may be required. DNA testing can conclusively determine whether a man is the biological father of a child. Courts may order genetic testing if paternity is in question, and the results of the test can be used to establish legal parenthood.
  3. Court Order: In some cases, particularly if paternity is disputed or if one parent is unwilling to acknowledge paternity voluntarily, it may be necessary to seek a court order to establish legal parenthood. This typically involves filing a petition with the court requesting a determination of paternity. The court may order genetic testing and, if the results confirm paternity, issue an order establishing the father’s legal rights and responsibilities.
  4. Marriage: If the parents are married at the time of the child’s birth, the husband is typically presumed to be the legal father of the child. However, this presumption can be rebutted if there is evidence to the contrary, such as proof of infertility or evidence of another man’s paternity.

Once legal parenthood is established, the father typically has rights and responsibilities regarding custody, visitation, and financial support for the child. It’s important for fathers to understand their rights and obligations under the law and to seek legal advice if they have questions or concerns about establishing legal parenthood.

What Is A Father’s Financial Responsibility During Pregnancy?

A father’s financial responsibility during pregnancy can vary depending on factors such as legal jurisdiction, the relationship between the parents, and individual circumstances. However, some common financial responsibilities that fathers may have during pregnancy include:

  1. Medical Expenses: Fathers may be responsible for contributing to the costs of prenatal care, including doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds, lab tests, and medications. This can also include expenses related to childbirth, such as hospital bills and delivery costs.
  2. Health Insurance Coverage: If the father has health insurance that covers dependents, he may be responsible for adding the mother and unborn child to his insurance policy to help cover medical expenses related to the pregnancy and childbirth.
  3. Supporting the Mother: Fathers may be expected to provide financial support to the mother during pregnancy to help cover living expenses and other necessities. This can include contributing to rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, and other household expenses.
  4. Childbirth Classes and Other Preparations: Fathers may be responsible for sharing the costs of childbirth classes, prenatal vitamins, maternity clothes, and other expenses related to preparing for the baby’s arrival.
  5. Unforeseen Expenses: Fathers should also be prepared to help cover any unexpected expenses that arise during pregnancy, such as medical emergencies or complications that require additional financial resources.

It’s important for both parents to communicate openly about financial responsibilities during pregnancy and to work together to ensure that the needs of both the mother and unborn child are met. In cases where the parents are unmarried or separated, legal agreements or court orders may be necessary to establish financial obligations and ensure that both parents contribute appropriately to the costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

Can You Not Tell The Father You Are Pregnant?

Deciding when and how to share such news can be a deeply personal matter, and there might be various reasons why someone may choose not to tell the father about a pregnancy right away. It’s essential to consider the circumstances and implications carefully.

If you’re in a situation where you’re hesitant to tell the father, it might be helpful to reflect on why that is and whether there are concerns that need addressing. Keeping such news from the father could potentially lead to complications down the road, so it’s essential to approach the situation with care and honesty, whenever you feel ready. If you need advice or support, don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted friends, family, or professionals who can provide guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.

Can You Have A Baby And Not Tell The Father?

Yes, it is possible for someone to have a baby and choose not to tell the father about the pregnancy or the child. There could be various reasons for this decision, such as concerns about the father’s involvement, personal safety, or other complex circumstances.

However, it’s important to consider the potential long-term implications of such a decision, both for the child and for the relationship between the child and the father. In many cases, maintaining open communication and transparency can lead to better outcomes for everyone involved, even if the situation is challenging.

If you’re considering not telling the father about a pregnancy or a child, it might be helpful to seek guidance from trusted friends, family members, or professionals who can offer support and perspective on your specific circumstances.

After the baby is born, you are not entitled to make decisions regarding the child if you are not the biological parent or do not have custody. However, if you have sole or joint legal custody, you are in a position to decide on important aspects of their upbringing. Create a newborn custody agreement to specify the responsibilities of each parent. Make use of a parenting plan template as a reference. It can be drafted while you are pregnant, and once the baby is born, the court can approve it.

Signing Over Parental Rights Of An Unborn Child

Signing over parental rights of an unborn child is a complex legal matter and the specifics can vary greatly depending on jurisdiction. In many places, it’s not possible to sign over parental rights to an unborn child because legal parental rights generally come into effect after the child is born. However, there might be options for relinquishing parental rights after birth through processes like adoption or termination of parental rights.

If you’re considering such a step, it’s crucial to seek legal advice from a qualified attorney who specializes in family law. They can provide guidance on the relevant laws in your jurisdiction and help you understand your rights and options. Additionally, it’s important to consider the potential emotional and practical implications of such a decision, both for yourself and for the child. Talking to a counselor or therapist can also be beneficial in navigating these complex issues.

Father’ Rights In Abortion

The topic of fathers’ rights in the context of abortion is complex and intersects with legal, ethical, and social dimensions. Here’s an overview of the key aspects:

Legal Perspective

  1. Current Legal Framework:
    • In most jurisdictions, the legal right to decide whether to have an abortion resides with the pregnant woman. This stems from the recognition of bodily autonomy and privacy rights.
    • The landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade (1973) established the constitutional right to privacy, which includes a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. This decision was modified by the 2022 case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which returned the power to regulate abortion to individual states, but did not explicitly grant fathers any decision-making power.
  2. Paternity Rights:
    • Fathers generally have rights concerning their children once they are born, including custody, visitation, and child support. However, these rights do not typically extend to decisions about abortion.
  3. State Variations:
    • Some states have attempted to introduce laws requiring that fathers be notified of or consent to an abortion, but these have generally been struck down as unconstitutional.

Ethical and Social Considerations

  1. Bodily Autonomy:
    • The principle of bodily autonomy supports the idea that individuals should have control over their own bodies, which includes making decisions about pregnancy.
  2. Parental Responsibilities and Interests:
    • Some argue that fathers should have a say in abortion decisions because they have a stake in the potential life of the child. However, this interest is often seen as secondary to the pregnant woman’s bodily autonomy.
  3. Relationship Dynamics:
    • The dynamics of the relationship between the parents can also affect opinions on this issue. In some cases, men may feel they should have a say, especially if they are in a committed relationship. Conversely, in situations involving abuse or coercion, giving fathers more rights could endanger the pregnant woman.

Advocacy and Movements

  1. Men’s Rights Groups:
    • Some men’s rights groups advocate for increased paternal rights in abortion decisions. They argue for equal say in the decision-making process or at least for fathers to be notified.
  2. Reproductive Rights Groups:
    • Groups advocating for reproductive rights typically emphasize the importance of protecting women’s autonomy and ensuring access to abortion without additional hurdles, including mandatory notification or consent from fathers.

The rights of fathers in the context of abortion remain a contentious issue. While fathers have significant rights and responsibilities regarding their children post-birth, the prevailing legal and ethical frameworks prioritize the pregnant woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. This balance reflects broader principles of bodily autonomy and privacy, even as debates continue about the appropriate roles and rights of fathers in these deeply personal and complex decisions.

Can A Father Stop A Pregnant Mother From Moving?

The ability of a father to prevent a pregnant mother from moving depends on various legal and contextual factors. Generally, it is difficult for a father to legally stop a pregnant mother from relocating, especially before the child is born. Here are key points to consider:

Legal Context

  1. Rights During Pregnancy:
    • Autonomy of the Pregnant Woman: During pregnancy, the legal rights of the mother over her body and movement are typically prioritized. Courts generally do not impose restrictions on a pregnant woman’s right to move or relocate.
    • Legal Status of the Fetus: In many jurisdictions, a fetus does not have separate legal rights independent of the pregnant woman. Consequently, the father does not have legal grounds to control the movements of the pregnant mother based on the unborn child’s interests.
  2. Post-Birth Considerations:
    • Custody and Visitation Rights: Once the child is born, both parents’ rights and responsibilities come into play. If the mother moves before the child is born, custody and visitation arrangements will be established based on the location of the parents at that time.
    • Impact on Custody: If a mother relocates during pregnancy and the father wishes to be involved in the child’s life, the distance may impact future custody and visitation arrangements. Courts generally consider the best interests of the child when making these decisions, which includes maintaining relationships with both parents.

Factors Influencing Court Decisions

  1. Best Interests of the Child:
    • Courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody and visitation decisions. They consider factors such as the child’s stability, the parents’ ability to cooperate, and the child’s relationship with each parent.
  2. Mother’s Reason for Moving:
    • If the mother’s relocation is motivated by valid reasons (e.g., employment opportunities, support from family, safety concerns), courts may view the move more favorably.
  3. Father’s Involvement:
    • The father’s level of involvement and commitment to the child can influence court decisions. Demonstrating a desire to be actively involved in the child’s life can be a significant factor.

Practical Considerations

  1. Communication and Cooperation:
    • Open communication and cooperation between parents can help manage the implications of a move. If possible, discussing and negotiating terms that consider both parents’ roles can lead to more amicable arrangements.
  2. Legal Advice:
    • Both parents should seek legal advice to understand their rights and obligations. Family law attorneys can provide guidance specific to their jurisdiction and circumstances.

Before the child is born, it is generally challenging for a father to legally prevent a pregnant mother from moving. The mother’s autonomy and the absence of separate legal rights for the fetus support her freedom to relocate. However, once the child is born, custody and visitation arrangements will consider the best interests of the child, which may include maintaining relationships with both parents. Communication, cooperation, and legal counsel are crucial in navigating these situations.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Enforcing Custody and Child Support Orders

Enforcing custody and child support orders can be a complex and frustrating process, but there are steps you can take to ensure your child receives the support and care they deserve. Here’s an overview of your options:

Before taking action:

  • Review the order carefully: Understand the specifics of your custody and child support agreements, including visitation schedules, payment amounts, and deadlines.
  • Document any violations: Keep detailed records of any missed visits, late payments, or other violations of the order. Include dates, times, and any witnesses or evidence.
  • Communicate with the other parent: Attempt to resolve the issue amicably through direct communication. Express your concerns and try to find a solution that works for both parties.

If communication fails:

For custody violations:

  • Contact local law enforcement: If the other parent refuses to return your child after a visit or interferes with your parenting time, you can contact law enforcement to enforce the order.
  • File a motion for contempt of court: This legal action requests that the court find the other parent in contempt for violating the custody order and impose penalties, such as fines, jail time, or changes to the custody agreement.

For child support violations:

  • Report the delinquency to the child support agency: Your state likely has a child support agency that can help with enforcement. They can take actions like wage garnishment, tax refund interceptions, and license suspensions against the non-paying parent.
  • File a motion for contempt of court: Similar to custody violations, you can ask the court to find the other parent in contempt for failing to pay child support and impose penalties.

Additional resources:

  • Family law attorney: Consulting with a lawyer experienced in family law can provide valuable guidance and representation throughout the enforcement process.
  • Online resources: Many government agencies and legal organizations offer online resources and information on enforcing child support and custody orders.

Remember:

  • Documentation is key: Maintain detailed records of your attempts to resolve the issue and any subsequent actions you take.
  • Be patient: Enforcing orders can take time. Be persistent and follow through on all steps.
  • Seek professional help: Don’t hesitate to consult with a lawyer if you need assistance navigating the legal process or protecting your child’s rights.

Handling Custody Violations

Handling custody violations can be emotionally charged and demanding, but taking the right steps can help you protect your child’s well-being and enforce the court-ordered custody agreement.

Before Taking Action:

  • Gather Information: Clearly understand the specifics of the custody agreement, including visitation schedules, communication protocols, and exchange procedures.
  • Document Violations: Maintain detailed records of each violation, including dates, times, circumstances, and any witnesses or evidence (e.g., texts, emails).
  • Attempt Direct Communication: Try to resolve the issue directly with the other parent. Clearly express your concerns and attempt to find an amicable solution.

If Communication Fails:

Severity of Violation:

  • Minor Violations: Consider the severity of the violation. Minor inconsistencies or scheduling mishaps might warrant a more informal approach like mediation before resorting to legal action.
  • Serious Violations: For serious violations like prolonged withholding of the child, interference with visits, or endangering the child’s safety, immediate legal action is crucial.

Legal Options:

Contempt of Court:

  • File a motion for contempt: This legal action requests the court to find the other parent in contempt for violating the custody order. If proven, the court can impose penalties like fines, jail time, makeup visitation, or even changes to the custody agreement.
  • Gather Evidence: Prepare a strong case with documented evidence of the violations, witness testimonies (if applicable), and communication attempts.
  • Consider Legal Representation: Consulting a lawyer experienced in family law can provide invaluable guidance and representation throughout the contempt proceedings.

Additional Actions:

  • Mediation or Collaborative Law: Explore alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or collaborative law to reach an agreement outside of court, potentially saving time and money.
  • Report to Child Protective Services: If the child’s safety is at risk due to the violation, contacting child protective services might be necessary to ensure their well-being.

Remember:

  • Document Everything: Maintain detailed records of all communication, actions taken, and legal proceedings for future reference.
  • Prioritize Child’s Well-being: Keep the child’s best interests at the forefront of your decisions and actions throughout the process.
  • Seek Professional Help: Don’t hesitate to consult with a lawyer for personalized guidance and representation, especially in complex or serious situations.

By understanding your options, gathering evidence, and potentially seeking legal support, you can effectively address custody violations and advocate for your child’s rights.

Handling Child Support Violations

Dealing with child support violations can be frustrating and stressful, but there are effective steps you can take to ensure your child receives the financial support they deserve. Here’s a breakdown of your options:

Before Taking Action:

  • Review the Order: Thoroughly understand the specifics of the child support agreement, including payment amounts, deadlines, and communication protocols.
  • Gather Evidence: Maintain detailed records of missed or late payments, including dates, amounts, and any communication attempts with the other parent.
  • Contact the Payor: Try to resolve the issue directly. Express your concerns and attempt to find an amicable solution, like a payment plan.

If Communication Fails:

Formalizing Enforcement:

  • Report to Child Support Agency: Most states have child support agencies that handle enforcement. They can initiate actions like wage garnishment, tax refund interception, and license suspensions against the non-paying parent.
  • File Motion for Contempt: This legal action requests the court to find the other parent in contempt for violating the child support order. If proven, the court can impose penalties like fines, jail time, or even changes to the child support amount.

Additional Strategies:

  • Hire a Family Law Attorney: Experienced legal counsel can guide you through the process, navigate complex situations, and protect your rights.
  • Consider Mediation: Explore alternative dispute resolution to reach an agreement outside of court, potentially saving time and money.
  • Credit Reporting: In some cases, reporting the delinquency to credit bureaus might incentivize payment.

Remember:

  • Documentation is Key: Maintain detailed records of your attempts to resolve the issue and any subsequent actions taken.
  • Be Patient: Enforcement can take time. Be persistent and follow through on all steps.
  • Seek Professional Help: Don’t hesitate to consult a lawyer, especially in complex situations or if significant amounts are owed.

Additional Resources:

  • Your State’s Child Support Agency: Find relevant information, resources, and online tools for enforcement.
  • National Child Support Enforcement Association: Offers informative resources and guidance on child support matters.
  • Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement: Provides information and resources on federal involvement in child support enforcement.

By understanding your options, taking proactive steps, and potentially seeking legal support, you can increase your chances of successfully enforcing the child support order and ensure your child receives the financial resources they are entitled to.

Dealing with child support violations can be frustrating and stressful, but there are effective steps you can take to ensure your child receives the financial support they deserve. Here’s a breakdown of your options:

Before Taking Action:

  • Review the Order: Thoroughly understand the specifics of the child support agreement, including payment amounts, deadlines, and communication protocols.
  • Gather Evidence: Maintain detailed records of missed or late payments, including dates, amounts, and any communication attempts with the other parent.
  • Contact the Payor: Try to resolve the issue directly. Express your concerns and attempt to find an amicable solution, like a payment plan.

If Communication Fails:

Formalizing Enforcement:

  • Report to Child Support Agency: Most states have child support agencies that handle enforcement. They can initiate actions like wage garnishment, tax refund interception, and license suspensions against the non-paying parent.
  • File Motion for Contempt: This legal action requests the court to find the other parent in contempt for violating the child support order. If proven, the court can impose penalties like fines, jail time, or even changes to the child support amount.

Additional Strategies:

  • Hire a Family Law Attorney: Experienced legal counsel can guide you through the process, navigate complex situations, and protect your rights.
  • Consider Mediation: Explore alternative dispute resolution to reach an agreement outside of court, potentially saving time and money.
  • Credit Reporting: In some cases, reporting the delinquency to credit bureaus might incentivize payment.

Remember:

  • Documentation is Key: Maintain detailed records of your attempts to resolve the issue and any subsequent actions taken.
  • Be Patient: Enforcement can take time. Be persistent and follow through on all steps.
  • Seek Professional Help: Don’t hesitate to consult a lawyer, especially in complex situations or if significant amounts are owed.

Additional Resources:

  • Your State’s Child Support Agency: Find relevant information, resources, and online tools for enforcement.
  • National Child Support Enforcement Association: Offers informative resources and guidance on child support matters.
  • Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement: Provides information and resources on federal involvement in child support enforcement.

By understanding your options, taking proactive steps, and potentially seeking legal support, you can increase your chances of successfully enforcing the child support order and ensure your child receives the financial resources they are entitled to.

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! 480-744-7711 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

Parenting Coordination Pros And Cons

Parenting coordination is a process that involves a qualified and neutral third party, known as a parenting coordinator, to assist divorced or separated parents in resolving parenting disputes and making decisions about the well-being of their children. The goal is to help parents work together more effectively and reduce conflict in co-parenting relationships. Here’s an overview of parenting coordination, including its definition, pros and cons, and potential costs:

What is Parenting Coordination:

Definition: Parenting coordination is a form of alternative dispute resolution that focuses specifically on parenting issues. It is often used in situations where high conflict between parents is negatively affecting their ability to co-parent effectively.

Role of the Parenting Coordinator: The parenting coordinator acts as a mediator and facilitator, assisting parents in resolving disputes related to parenting plans, visitation schedules, and other child-related matters. The coordinator helps implement and modify existing parenting plans, facilitates communication between parents, and provides recommendations to the court if necessary.

Pros of Parenting Coordination:

  1. Conflict Reduction:
    • Parenting coordination can help reduce conflict between parents by providing a structured and neutral forum for dispute resolution.
  2. Faster Resolutions:
    • The process is designed to address issues promptly, potentially avoiding lengthy court battles and delays.
  3. Child-Centered Solutions:
    • The focus is on the best interests of the child, promoting solutions that benefit the children involved.
  4. Ongoing Support:
    • Parenting coordinators can provide ongoing support and assistance, helping parents navigate changes and challenges over time.

Cons of Parenting Coordination:

  1. Cost:
    • Parenting coordination services may involve costs, including fees for the coordinator’s time. Costs can vary based on the professional’s rates and the complexity of the case.
  2. Limited Legal Authority:
    • Parenting coordinators do not have the legal authority to make binding decisions. Their role is advisory, and their recommendations may be subject to court approval.
  3. Not Suitable for All Cases:
    • Parenting coordination may not be suitable for cases involving domestic violence, substance abuse, or other severe issues. In such cases, more intensive interventions may be needed.
  4. Mutual Agreement Required:
    • Both parents must agree to participate in parenting coordination for it to be effective. If one parent is resistant, the process may face challenges.

Costs of Parenting Coordination:

The costs of parenting coordination can vary widely based on factors such as the coordinator’s fees, the frequency of sessions, and the complexity of the issues. Parenting coordinators typically charge hourly rates, and the total costs will depend on the number of hours required to address the specific needs of the case. Generally, expect to pay hourly rates ranging from $200 to $400, with initial consultations often costing extra. Some courts may offer subsidized or pro bono parenting coordination services for low-income families.

It’s essential for parents to discuss fees and payment arrangements with the parenting coordinator upfront to ensure transparency and clarity regarding costs.

Keep in mind that the information provided here is a general overview, and the specifics of parenting coordination, including pros, cons, and costs, can vary based on local regulations, the expertise of the coordinator, and the unique circumstances of each case. If you’re considering parenting coordination, consulting with a family law professional in your jurisdiction can provide you with more tailored and accurate information

 

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! 480-744-7711 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 Child Custody Is Determined In Arizona

Children aren’t mature enough to have the same rights as parents, but they have certain protections. These ensure the best interest of the child.

 

The right to state their opinion

In some states, the court must consider the child’s custody preference when making the final custody decision. The judge usually figures this out by interviewing the child in private. The older the child, the more weight is given to their opinion.

The court won’t always go along with what the child says, even in states like Georgia, where children 14 or older can generally choose whom they want to live with. The judge must rule in line with the child’s best interest. So if a child wants to live with a parent simply because that parent lets them stay up late, the judge will only go with that if that parent is the most competent.

Children can testify during a trial if they have information that can impact the verdict. This is rare since testifying can be distressing for a child. Instead, the judge usually speaks to the child in private or appoints a professional like a custody evaluator to assess the situation.

The right to legal representation

Children have a right to their own legal representation if necessary.

Guardians ad litem represent the child’s best interest. They are usually reserved for cases involving abuse or neglect, but some states assign them in all child custody cases.

Attorneys ad litem represent what the child wants. Typically, they’re appointed on a case-by-case basis, but there are courts that require their involvement for specific case types.

These professionals speak for the child in court and advocate for their rights. Also, they might conduct a short investigation that includes interviews with each parent and a viewing of the child’s potential homes.

The right to safety, education and healthcare

Children have the right to live in an environment free of substance abuse, violence and other dangers. This is why child welfare agencies can intervene when parents put a child in danger. This right also impacts whether a parent receives physical custody.

The right to have a relationship with both parents

Research has shown that children fare better when both parents are part of their lives. For this reason, courts seek to make custody rulings that let the child build a relationship with both parents. Even if a parent isn’t fit for custody, protections like supervised visitation ensure the child can safely be around them.

Parents must also protect this right by allowing visits and not interfering with the other parent’s time with the child. Otherwise, they could lose custody.

The right to financial support

So long as the child is under 18, parents must financially support them.

When parents separate, one typically pays child support to the other. The payer is generally the noncustodial parent or the parent who sees the child less often. If the parent fails to pay support, they could faces penalties ranging from fines to jail time.

Best Interest of the Child

When a court is asked to decide on issues of custody, they will use the best interests of the child standard to do so. In other words, the primary goal of the court isn’t necessarily doing what either parent wants but instead is doing what is best for the children involved.

Courts can consider many factors to determine the best interests of the child including:

  • The recommendations made by a mental health professional after a custody evaluation
  • The preference of the child if they are old enough to have an opinion
  • Who has been the child’s primary caregiver (if either parent has)
  • The ability of each parent to provide a stable, loving home
  • Whether the child has any special needs
  • The emotional ties the child has with parents, siblings and other household members
  • The parents’ ability to provide connections with support networks, including extended family members
  • The mental and physical needs of the child
  • The presence of domestic violence in the home

The specifics vary by state. Courts do not express a preference for parents of a particular gender (such as defaulting to giving custody to a mother). Instead, the goal is to look at the big picture and see which custody arrangement would best ensure the child’s stability and security moving forward. And, in most cases, this means keeping both parents in the child’s life.

 

Source

https://www.custodyxchange.com/topics/custody/legal-concepts/children-custody-rights.php

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/legal/child-custody/child-custody/ 

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! 480-744-7711 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

Custodial Parents & Noncustodial Parents Rights

One parent is designated as the custodial parent and the other as the noncustodial parent, based on the custodial rights granted to each in the final custody order. These titles have an impact on each parent’s rights and obligations, including who is responsible for paying and receiving child support, among other things.

There are states where terms with the same meaning are used differently. Ohio, for instance, employs the terms “residential parent” and “nonresidential parent.”

A custodial parent: what is it?

The principal caregiver for the child is the custodial parent. They frequently get sole custody, which grants them complete control over all decisions pertaining to the child (sole legal custody) and most or all of the parenting time (sole physical custody).

The custodial parent may be named in a joint or sole custody agreement that the parents come to. Should that not be feasible, the judge determines the appropriate party based on:

The child’s best interests

Who has more time to devote to the child? Who was the child’s primary caregiver when the custody case began? In certain states, the child’s wishes
The opportunity to spend a lot of one-on-one time with your child is one advantage of having custodial custody. There’s also the possibility that you won’t have to pay child support.

But you bear the majority of the parental load, particularly if you’re a single parent. All or most of your child’s growing pains and frustrations must be addressed as you are responsible for their daily care. In addition, you’ll have extra responsibilities that the other parent might be able to avoid, like driving the child to and from school.

Should you and your former partner get along well enough, you may be able to co-parent and divide these duties equally between the two of you.

A noncustodial parent is what?

In most cases, the noncustodial parent has less time with the child and is the one who pays child support, though they may still be eligible for assistance if the custodial parent earns a substantially higher income.

You may remain the noncustodial parent even if you share joint legal and physical custody. Perhaps the court decides you need to pay child support, or perhaps the other parent resides in a better school district.

Even though you might not see your child as much, you play an equally important role in their upbringing as the custodial parent does; children gain the most from having both parents involved.

Rights of noncustodial parents

Noncustodial parents are entitled to visitation privileges and decision-making power, unless the court rules otherwise. The court may mandate supervised visitation if there are worries about the child being with the parent alone.

The custodial parent’s refusal to permit visits does not absolve you of your child support obligations. If you want to make sure the order is enforced, you should bring the matter before a family court.

It is your right to be informed if the parent with custodial rights plans to move. The majority of states have deadlines for the custodial parent to notify the other parent when they are moving. The noncustodial parent now has time to object. If the distance is great enough to interfere with the visitation schedule, the custody order might need to be modified.

Both parents have the right to know where their child is during visits, if specified by the court order.

Working Together

For the purpose of raising your child, you and your ex-partner remain a team, despite your separation. Among the matters you ought to work together on are:

Important decisions pertaining to children, such as the child’s schooling
Significant costs for the child (such as medical procedures)

Reliability

Getting the youngster to and from appointments

Before going to court, think about attempting an alternative dispute resolution process if you’re having problems reaching a consensus on these issues. It might be more difficult to resolve conflicts amicably in the future if litigation is brought about right away.

Divorce can be tolling on all involved so be sure to guard your kids and preserve their future. For more information on divorce and child custody, contact the Scottsdale divorce lawyers at Canterbury Law Group. We are here to protect you and your children: (480) 744-7711.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Child Custody Mediation: How It Works

Learn the basics of this dispute resolution tool for divorcing spouses and get pointers on approaching your own child custody mediation sessions.

Divorce is an inherently painful process that can be all the more challenging when children are involved. Fighting over child custody issues in court can intensify the pain for all those involved—not to mention the expense.

Fortunately, disagreeing couples can get help working toward solutions for their family somewhere other than court. Child custody mediation exists precisely so that parents who just can’t seem to agree don’t have to take on the financial and emotional costs of court battles.

What Is Child Custody Mediation?

Mediation is a method of “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) that has become a mainstay in the world of divorce. When it comes to child custody, mediation is designed to help divorcing or unmarried parents reach an agreement on legal and physical custody of their children without the pain and expense of a traditional court contest.

In a mediation session, spouses meet with a trained mediator, usually in an informal setting (such as the mediator’s office), or sometimes online. Think of the mediator as a guide, navigating the couple through the maze of marital issues they disagree on. (Sometimes the spouses work with a mediator and otherwise handle the case themselves; other times, they each have an attorney who might help them prepare for mediation, provide coaching for the negotiation process, and prepare or review any resulting agreement.)

Unlike a judge or arbitrator, the mediator doesn’t make decisions on the disputed matters. Rather, mediators use their knowledge and skill to try to facilitate a compromise that both spouses can live with. In divorce cases, a successful mediation will normally lead to the preparation of a written settlement agreement.

Although many issues in a divorce can be contentious, child custody and parenting time are often the most emotionally charged and difficult for families to agree on.

Child Custody Overview

Child custody isn’t the all-or-nothing proposition it’s often thought to be—one parent gets the kids, the other doesn’t, end of story. It’s well established that children fare better when both parents are an integral part of their life, and that’s the goal the courts strive for in custody cases.

At its core, child custody includes two basic concepts: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody relates to who will make the decisions regarding the important matters in a child’s life, such as education, religious upbringing, and non-emergency medical treatment. Unless one parent is unqualified for some reason, courts prefer to have parents share legal custody.

Physical custody has to do with where a child will primarily reside. To a large degree, determining physical custody depends on where each parent lives, with the aim being to provide for an arrangement that best suits the child’s needs.

In all custody matters, doing what’s in the child’s best interest is the court’s guiding principle.

Child Custody Mediation Basics

Although many issues in a divorce can be contentious, child custody and parenting time are often the most emotionally charged and difficult for families to agree on. Child custody mediation is intended to help tone down the hostility, for the sake of both the parents and their children.

Court-Ordered vs. Private Child Custody Mediation

Child custody mediation can be either ordered by a court or private and voluntary. Court-ordered mediation is often free, low cost, or priced on a sliding scale based on the parents’ incomes. But even if a judge has ordered you to participate in custody mediation, you almost always have the option of choosing private mediation instead of the mediation program offered through the court.

If you can afford it, private mediation allows you to have more say in the process, and it tends to be more successful than court-ordered mediation (in part because of the time restrictions on most court-sponsored custody mediation). Because of that, private mediation might actually save you money because of the court costs and lawyers’ fees that come when there’s no agreement.

Child custody mediation is also typically more cost effective than going to court, because you’re paying one mediator to help you come to an agreement, rather than both of you paying hourly fees to separate attorneys. Also, you have a say in when the sessions will take place. That’s a luxury that is practically nonexistent in the court system.

Most states (and many counties) require courts to order parents to participate in mediation in any case that involves a custody dispute. So even when couples who can’t agree haven’t opted to pursue mediation before filing for divorce, they’ll usually have to attend mediation at some point. In light of this, it’s important to learn how to approach mediation.

How to Prepare for Child Custody Mediation

First and foremost, remember that custody in general, and mediation in particular, isn’t primarily about the parents. It’s about the children. You have to make a commitment to do whatever is best for them, and that starts with being prepared.

Here are some quick tips on getting ready for a mediation session:

Try to get plenty of sleep the night before. Mediation can be stressful, so be sure to take care of yourself. It’s much easier to stay calm and think clearly when you’re rested.

  • Resolve to keep an open mind. Remember, it’s not about getting everything you want. Your spouse may have a different perspective on what’s best for the children. Try to understand where your ex is coming from instead of immediately digging in. The mediator may also have suggestions for custody and parenting time that you haven’t thought of.
  • Sketch something out. Write out a proposal of what you believe would be a fair custody and parenting time arrangement. Sketching out a plan can help organize your thoughts and provide a starting point for discussion. Include a checklist so you don’t lose track of issues that are important to you. Remember to include things such as:
    • how to handle transitions, meaning picking up and dropping off the children when it’s time for them to be with the other parent
    • how to share the cost involved in travel if that’s a factor (such as when the parents live far away from each other)
    • how to divide holidays throughout the year (for example, whether the schedule will be the same each year or will alternate)
    • vacation sharing, for school breaks and summer
    • how to deal with minor changes to the agreed-upon schedules, like when a child or parent is sick
    • the best way for parents to communicate with each other (phone and/or email, for example), and
    • anything you feel could be a potential problem, such as a parent having substance abuse issues that need to be addressed.

Keep in mind that software programs and smartphone apps can help parents coordinate all aspects of custody and parenting time, including communications.

When Custody Mediation Might Not Be Appropriate

Custody mediation is generally not appropriate in cases involving ongoing domestic violence or emotional abuse. In many states that require mediation for custody disputes, you may get out of this requirement if you’re experiencing abuse or there’s a protective order in place. Other states, like California, won’t excuse you from participating in custody mediation, but you may request special procedures to protect your safety.

As long as you have the choice to participate in mediation (or not), you should be aware that custody mediation might not be the best option in some other circumstances, such as when

  • there’s a history of abuse in your relationship, or the other parent bullies or dominates you
  • you have such a high level of conflict in your relationship that cooperation and effective communication is basically impossible, or
  • the other parent has an untreated substance abuse disorder.

5 Tips for Your Child Custody Mediation Sessions

Even if both spouses come with the best intentions, mediation can hit rough patches. When that happens it’s important to take a breath and refocus your energy on what’s best for the children.

Here are some more tips to achieve a successful mediation:

  1. Don’t bring up marital issues unrelated to the children. Remember that this isn’t a general divorce mediation, so don’t muddy the waters by bringing up anything not specifically related to custody and parenting time. Reciting a laundry list of things you don’t like about the other parent is a prime example of what not to say in child custody mediation.
  2. Be thoughtful with your language. When you reference your children, talk about “our” kids, not “my” kids. It’s more inclusive and less confrontational. And try to couch your remarks in terms of what you as parents can jointly do to make the situation as positive and painless for your children as possible.
  3. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Expect that—despite everyone’s best efforts—there will be times when your discussion can become heated. Don’t use that as an excuse to unload on the other parent, which will only undo progress that’s been made up to that point. Mediators are adept at calming the waters, but if you feel your emotions are getting away from you, ask to take a short break.
  4. Don’t subject yourself to abuse. If you choose to mediate your custody dispute despite a history of physical or emotional abuse, you might consider online mediation, mediation with separate sessions for you and the other parent, or both (meaning that you’ll meet virtually with the mediator in separate “break-out” sessions). So-called “shuttle mediation” usually costs more—because it takes more of the mediator’s time—but it can help level the playing field by offsetting the imbalance of power that frequently exists in abusive relationships. A successful outcome is worth the additional cost, which is still likely to be considerably less than heading to court. Virtual or separate mediation sessions are also useful if the degree of hostility between you and the other parent is so high that you can’t be in the same room.
  5. Remember, you always have options. In the event mediation doesn’t work, you can still turn to the courts. Even in that case, your mediation sessions will probably have highlighted the issues you can’t agree on, which will show you what you need to focus on going forward.

Finding a Qualified Mediator

Mediation has become such a popular method of settling legal issues that there’s no shortage of qualified mediators. Your state court’s administration office may have a list of approved mediators. There are also mediation organizations that offer lists of mediators along with their training and experience.

When researching, be sure to pay particular attention to each mediator’s qualifications. You want one who’s taken mediation courses specifically geared to divorce cases, including custody and parenting time. Also, be aware that a child custody mediator doesn’t necessarily have to be a lawyer—many trained child custody mediators are licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, or social workers who have experience in child custody issues in their state.

Of course, firsthand knowledge and word-of-mouth referrals are always helpful. Recommendations from friends or family members who’ve been through custody mediation are often the best referrals you can find.

Source: https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/understanding-child-custody-mediation.html

Divorce can be tolling on all involved so be sure to guard your kids and preserve their future. For more information on divorce and child custody, contact the Scottsdale divorce lawyers at Canterbury Law Group. We are here to protect you and your children: (480) 744-7711.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Differences Between Legal and Physical Child Custody

When you’re splitting up with your child’s other parent, you’ll need to address the issue of child custody, either as part of a divorce or in a separate custody proceeding. Whether you’re preparing for a custody case or hope to reach a parenting agreement, you should become familiar the basic principles of child custody.

The first thing to understand is that there are two elements to child custody: legal custody and physical custody. It’s not unusual for legal and physical custody to be set up differently. For example, parents might have joint legal custody but not joint physical custody. But with both legal and physical custody, judges base their decisions primarily on what would be in the best interests of the child, not necessarily what the parents want.

What Does Legal Custody Mean?

Legal custody refers to parents’ authority to make the important decisions about their children’s lives, such as:

  • medical and other health care, including the choice of doctors and whether the kids will get vaccinations or go to therapy
  • schooling and other educational resources like tutoring and special education
  • religious activities and instruction, and
  • whether they’ll take part in extracurricular activities like team sports, school band, or music lessons.

A few states use different terms for legal custody, such as decision-making or parental responsibility (in Colorado and Florida) or managing conservatorship (in Texas).

Joint or Shared Legal Custody

Most married parents make important decisions about their children together. And when they divorce or separate, judges usually prefer to keep this arrangement—generally called joint or shared legal custody. That preference is based on the longstanding recognition by courts that fit parents have a fundamental right to decide how their children are raised.

But even when both parents have the legal decision-making authority for their children, one of them—typically the primary residential (or custodial) parent—will often make routine decisions like scheduling doctor’s appointments or authorizing emergency medical treatment. Just as when they are still living together, it’s up to divorced parents to work out the practicalities of how to handle these decisions.

The best way to do that is to put it in writing ahead of time (whether in a separate custody agreement or as part of a complete divorce settlement agreement). For example, you may agree that you’ll follow the advice of your child’s pediatrician if there’s a dispute about vaccines, medication, or authorizing a medical procedure.

When Do Judges Award Sole Legal Custody?

Despite the built-in preference for giving both parents a say in how their children are raised, judges may grant sole legal custody to one parent when that would be best for the children, such as when the other parent:

  • has a history of domestic abuse (toward either a child or the other parent) or child neglect
  • has serious mental illness or a substance abuse problem that hinders the ability to make good decisions, or
  • isn’t involved in the child’s daily life.

Judges might also order sole legal custody in high-conflict cases where it’s clear that the parents won’t be able to agree.

Some judges may order joint legal custody while designating one parent as the tie-breaker in any disagreements. This isn’t that different from sole legal custody, but it does encourage both parents to be involved in the decision-making process.

Joint legal custody can sometimes turn into a constant battleground, with the parents going to back court to try to resolve disagreements. If this keeps happening—especially if one parent makes decisions about a child’s life over the other parent’s objections—the judge might modify custody by changing the existing arrangement to sole legal custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to where the children live most of the time. As with legal custody, some states have different names for physical custody, such as parenting time or time sharing.

Sole Physical Custody With Visitation

With sole physical custody, the children live with one parent while the other parent has visitation time. This traditional arrangement isn’t as common as it used to be. But it still might be the best solution for the children in certain situations, especially when:

  • the parents live far enough apart that it would be difficult for the kids to go back and forth frequently, or
  • one parent isn’t able to provide proper care for the kids because of housing instability, mental health issues, or substance abuse.

Even when one parent has sole physical custody, judges will usually try to make sure that the other parent can have frequent and continuing contact with the children—a goal that is explicit public policy in some states. For instance, noncustodial parents who live far away from the custodial parent might have the children during summer vacations and other long school breaks.

Joint or Shared Physical Custody

With shared physical custody or parenting time, children split their time between their parents. This way, they can have two engaged and involved parents, with two real homes.

Some states require judges to start out with by presuming that joint physical custody is better for the children. Then, any parent who disagrees must provide convincing evidence that shared custody wouldn’t be good for the kids.

Joint physical custody doesn’t always mean an exact 50-50 split. For instance, it often works best for the children to spend school nights with one parent (often called the primary residential parent) and weekends with the other parent. Of course, this kind of arrangement isn’t very feasible if the parents live far apart.

Shared Parenting Plans

Shared parenting plans usually involve detailed schedules, including provisions for issues like:

  • when, where, and how parents will pick up and drop off the kids
  • how the parents will communicate and deal with unforeseen changes to the schedule, and
  • where the children will spend birthdays, holidays, and other school vacations.

In most cases, parents work out their own parenting plan—either on their own or with the help of custody mediation, their lawyers, or both. In fact, many states and courts require parents to participate in mediation of any legal custody dispute. Once the parents have agreed on a plan, they’ll submit it to the court. Judges usually approve these agreements as long as they appear to be in the children’s best interests.

When Parents Can’t Agree on a Parenting Plan

If parents aren’t able to reach an agreement about physical or legal custody of their children, each of them will typically submit a proposed parenting plan to the court. A judge will then review those plans along with all the other evidence—which might include a report from a custody evaluation—before deciding on a custody arrangement that will be best for the children.

If you find yourself in this situation, you should speak with a family law attorney who can help you gather and present the kind of evidence you need to win your custody case.Source

https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/divorce/divorce-and-children/legal-and-physical-custody-children

Divorce can be tolling on all involved so be sure to guard your kids and preserve their future. For more information on divorce and child custody, contact the Scottsdale divorce lawyers at Canterbury Law Group. We are here to protect you and your children: (480) 744-7711.

Custodial Parent Moving Out of State
Written by Canterbury Law Group

Preference for the ‘Primary Caregiver’

Physical custody of a child may be requested and granted to parents who are divorcing. In a perfect world, the parents would resolve their differences out of court. However, disputes over child custody and divorce are frequently complicated. They can be challenging for the pair to resolve independently. The duty of determining the best custody arrangement for the child may fall to the court.

When deciding how to manage child custody in a divorce, the court must take a number of considerations into account. Courts are becoming less inclined to support the child’s “primary caregiver.” Instead, they prioritize the “best interests of the child.” This norm frequently promotes an equal level of parental involvement in the child’s life. Some states, like Kentucky, have even enacted legislation that codifies the 50/50 custody arrangement.

This article provides a summary of the criteria the court considers when deciding on a child custody arrangement.

‘Child’s Best Interest’ Standard

Most governments prioritize the “best interests of the child” in custody disputes. This standard takes a holistic approach to the child in order to safeguard their general well-being. The majority of states now hold the opinion that it is best for both parents to play a significant role in their children’s lives. The court does not automatically favor one parent over the other when using this criteria. However, the court may decide that one parent will have less than 50/50 custody if that parent engages in destructive activities that injure the kid.

What is in the child’s best interests will be determined by the court after considering a number of various considerations. To determine custody and issue a custody order, the court will take into account the following factors:

  • Age of the child and the desires or preferences of the child (if they are old enough)
    Relationship of either parent to the child
    The state of mind and body of the parents
    The child’s and parents’ preferred religion
    Maintaining a stable home environment is necessary.
    Assistance and chances for interaction with either parent’s extended family
    Relationships and interactions with other family members
    Adaptation to the community and school
    Too strict punishment from parents, emotional abuse, or domestic violence
    Evidence of drug, alcohol, or sexual abuse by your parents

The family court judge may grant single custody to one parent if the court decides that shared custody is not the best option for the child. This parent will likely be given primary physical custody of the child and may be deemed by the court to be the child’s primary caregiver. Additionally, they may be granted legal possession of the child. In order to provide for the kid financially, the judge may require the noncustodial parent to pay child support.

The ‘Primary Caregiver’ Doctrine:

The “primary caregiver” notion is becoming less prevalent in court decisions. According to this idea, judges would favor the parent who took care of the children the most of the time. The following are some of the criteria used to identify the primary caregiver:

  • Grooming, dressing, and bathing
    Organizing and making meals
    Obligations for laundry and clothing purchases
    Health care policies
    Encouraging involvement in extracurricular activities
    Teaching reading, writing, and math concepts and providing homework assistance
    conversing with educators and going to open houses
    Together with the youngster, plan and partake in leisure activities.
    The court may take these things into account. But today’s courts place more weight on other considerations (including what is in the best interests of the child). View a list of state custody summaries to find out how your state handles child custody.

In fact, since contemporary families embrace shared parenting, courts all over America have shifted toward equal 50/50 parenting. More and more courts are coming to the conclusion that giving the kids time with both parents is in their best interests.

Protect Your Child’s Interests With the Assistance of an Attorney

The custody of the child is one area where there is frequently disagreement, even in amicable separations. In order to decide who gets custody, the court will consider a number of issues. The court is, however, ceasing to take the primary caregiver into consideration. The best interests of the kid are instead the focus of the court.

You can get assistance from a skilled family law attorney in your child custody dispute. They can help you by providing insightful legal counsel and taking child custody laws into consideration. If you are a noncustodial parent, they can aid in advocating for your parenting time or visitation rights. Additionally, they can aid in your representation in custody disputes before the family court.

Speak to a family law professional about your custody dispute right away. Many law firms provide free initial consultations.

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