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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

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

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.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Is Divorce Good For

Most people who are thinking about getting a divorce are aware of what to expect. They have seen divorces in the movies and frequently have at least a few personal acquaintances who have gone through divorce. Even with this “second-hand” knowledge, going through your own divorce is one of the scariest things you can do in life.

You may be facing the end of one of your most important relationships ever, and on top of that, you have to start planning for unpleasant things like the division of assets and finding new housing. In many situations, there is also the sad possibility of losing daily contact with your children.

Divorce and predictability don’t mix. But if you go into your divorce with reasonable expectations, you’ll have the best chance of being happy with the outcome. As a result, it’s a good idea to be aware of what a divorce can and cannot achieve for you. What therefore is there to gain from divorce?

Real Estate Division

The marital property will be divided by the divorce court in the most reasonable manner. Most states will not include any property acquired before the marriage, by gift, or through inheritance in this divide.

This entails a 50/50 split of the property obtained by the partners during the marriage in some states (community property states). Other states (those without a community property system) will try to divide the property fairly by looking into the couple’s individual financial situations, the length of the marriage, the standard of living during that time, and other pertinent factors.

It is advisable to discuss the split of property with your soon-to-be ex-spouse because it is never predictable. Having legal representation will aid in the negotiation and settlement processes as well. For instance, you might decide that, while genuinely wanting to stay in the family home, you must continue running your business. As a result, you might decide to prioritize the business over the home. You can try to reach a mutually agreeable property division arrangement with your spouse in this way.

Assistance Obligations

The outcome of a divorce case can influence a couple’s support obligations. This may take the shape of spousal support and child support (also called “alimony”).

Although there may be some case-by-case variations, state law currently mainly determines how much child support must be paid. Slowly but surely, several states are working to enact laws that restrict deviance from the norm. Ordered custody arrangements may affect child support orders. In general, spousal support is heavily influenced by the specifics of each divorce and the financial situation of the separating couple. Therefore, it is once again challenging to anticipate a court’s final support decision.

Visitation and Custody of Children

When there are children between the parties, divorce can also help determine child custody, timesharing arrangements, and parenting schedules in addition to the division of assets. This is also everything but expected. The “best interests” of the child are supposedly promoted by a collection of considerations that courts frequently attempt to consider when making decisions, however these factors might differ from case to case and court to court.

Furthermore, during tense custody disputes, courts typically hear and see only the worst in people. In light of their constrained “view” of the parents’ lives, a divorce court might not necessarily decide on custody in the “optimal” way. Again, in this situation, bargaining and settlement are key choices to consider. A cooperative child custody arrangement will be advantageous to all parties engaged in the divorce, especially the kids.

Ensure Accurate and Equal Division

An exact or mathematically equal distribution of property and parenting time cannot be achieved through divorce. Since no two individuals, marriages, or divorces are alike. The judge who issues a divorce decree must choose wisely given the time and information at hand. You may need to make some concessions on some of your desires, and the choice may not always be the most just one that could have been made.

Divorce courts frequently need to make the most of bad situations. For instance, when one parent resides in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the other in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a satisfactory custody agreement is impossible.

Maintain Good Relations

Even while a court can determine the terms of child custody and visitation, the judge will not always be present when it is time for one parent to pick up the children or send them to spend the weekend with the other parent. The court will not be present to watch that they don’t insult the other parent in front of the kids. A court order is ultimately simply a piece of paper. To carry out the provisions of the custody and visitation order, the parents must continue communicate with each other civilly.

Your obligation to your children does not end with your divorce. In the best interests of the kids, this duty also entails courteous communication with the other parent. When there is significant conflict between the parents, most courts will take whatever action they can, such as limiting in-person interactions wherever possible. Examples of this include arranging for parents to pick up or drop off children at school or church so that they won’t have to interact with one another, or if a facility is available to handle exchanges when domestic violence is present.

Keep Your Current Standard of Living

You should also be aware that a divorce court cannot raise your pay in order to stop a decline in your standard of living after a divorce. Unfortunately, maintaining two separate residences is simply more expensive than living together and splitting costs with another person. Your level of life will alter after a divorce, and the court can do very little, if anything, to prevent this.

Fix Emotional Problems

Finally, a court will not be able to hold your ex-spouse accountable or ethically defend you for all the wrongdoings that took place during your marriage. Additionally, the divorce procedure won’t make your emotional wounds better or even eliminate the need for you to grieve the broken relationship. Although you can get help from therapists and support groups, that is your responsibility.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Military Divorce

While military divorces are not more complicated than civilian divorces, there are particular divorce procedures and requirements that apply to U.S. service members and their spouses. These differences may pertain to support payment compliance, service of process, residency or filing requirements, or the distribution of military pensions. The following is an outline of the laws that govern the divorce of U.S. servicemen and women.

Military Marriage Statutes

Both state and federal laws govern military divorce. For instance, federal rules may govern where divorcing spouses end up in court or how military pensions are shared, whereas state laws may govern the issuance of alimony and spousal support. The exact state laws applicable to a divorce depend on the state in which the divorce is filed.

Jurisdiction

Before a court may award military members or their wives a divorce, it must have “jurisdiction,” or the authority to hear the case. Generally, a person’s place of residence determines the court’s jurisdiction over them. However, for military personnel, jurisdiction may be the place where the person holds legal residence, even if the service member is stationed somewhere else.

Residency, Filing Requirements, and Proceedings Stays

Numerous states have decreased or removed the residency requirement in military divorces, allowing service personnel or their wives to petition for divorce in the state where they are stationed, even if they are not legal citizens.

In general, military members and their wives can petition for divorce in one of three states:

  • The state of residence of the filing spouse
  • State in which the service man is stationed.
  • The state in which a service member asserts legal residency

The reasons for divorce, including property division, child custody, and child support, are defined by the state where the divorce is filed. As a result, the specific conditions of a divorce will change based on that particular state’s laws.

It is important to note that active-duty service members have certain protections against court proceedings. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), for instance, service members are protected from default judgment and can apply for a “stay” — a temporary halt — of any civil action, including child custody proceedings, initiated against them during active duty or within 90 days of their release from active duty.

This stay is in place so that service members can devote their time and attention to defending the nation while still being subject to court orders or verdicts while they are unable to appear in court. If a servicemember desires a delay that continues beyond 90 days, he or she may petition the court to grant it, but the court has the discretion to grant or deny any additional extensions.

Pensions and Military Benefits

Like civilian retirement benefits, military pensions are subject to distribution between spouses in the case of divorce. Depending on the jurisdiction, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) permits state courts to recognize military retirement money as either sole or communal property. While the USFSPA does not specify a method for distributing retired pay, the amount is often established and distributed in accordance with state regulations.

In addition, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) pays the former spouse’s portion of military retirement immediately if there were at least 10 years of marriage and 10 years of military service overlap (known as the 10/10 rule).

However, regardless of the length of the marriage, a court may sanction an offset payment to a military spouse who has been married for less than 10 years. In such a case, payment would come from the retiring spouse, not DFAS.

In addition to pension benefits, spouses of former military personnel are eligible for full medical, commissary, and exchange privileges following a military divorce if they meet the following criteria:

  • The couple was married for 20 years or more
  • At least 20 years of service are credited toward the service member’s retirement compensation.
  • There was at least a 15 year overlap between marriage and military duty

Matrimony and Child Support

There are particular restrictions regarding spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support in the military. The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that a service member’s family support obligations continue after a divorce or separation.

A court may enforce spousal and child support obligations in a number of ways, including by:

  • Court-order
  • Garnishment
  • Willful or Unwilling Allotment
  • A court may also mandate the paying spouse to retain life insurance to cover child or spousal support payments for a predetermined amount of time.

Consult a Lawyer Regarding Your Military Divorce

Because a military divorce needs understanding of laws that do not apply to civilian divorces, it is prudent to consult with a divorce attorney who has experience handling military divorce matters. An expert, local divorce attorney can assist you understand the many laws that may apply to your situation, your rights as member of the armed forces, and more.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Divorce And Business Ownership

Eric and Ariel reached the terrible choice to divorce after 19 years of marriage. Ariel’s profession of collecting and selling various collectibles began before their marriage. However, now that she is getting a divorce, she is concerned about the future of her business. Will it be divided between her and Eric, or does she retain sole ownership as she owned it before to their marriage? Well, it depends.

A business will be evaluated as an asset in the case of a divorce. Whether it will be shared depends, among other things, on state rules, whether the business is considered marital property, and whether a prenuptial agreement is in existence. Learn more about divorce and company ownership by reading on.

Define Conjugal Property

The key determinant of whether an enterprise is subject to property division is whether it is classified as marital or separate property. The term “marital property” refers to the joint property of a married couple, which is more complicated than it may appear.

First, state rules influence the definition of marital property, which is typically community property or property susceptible to equitable division. Second, how the property is handled and even what happens to it throughout a marriage might influence how it is finally classified.

Community Property versus Equitable Distribution in Business Ownership upon Divorce

A divorcing couple must first establish whether they reside in a community property state or an equitable distribution jurisdiction. In states with community property, practically all property acquired during a marriage is considered joint property, while property owned prior to the marriage is considered separate. Obviously, the law is seldom straightforward, thus exceptions exist. Gifts and inheritances received by one spouse during a marriage are regarded separate property; however, combining them with communal property can alter their status.

In states with equitable distribution, the partition of property is less easy because a judge decides how it should be shared. Obviously, state laws establish specific standards about how property should be split. Additionally, the concept of equitable distribution is that property is divided “fairly” but not necessarily evenly.

When Is a Business Marital Property In the Context of Divorce?

The business will be considered marital property if the couples are co-owners. However, this is not the only method in which a business might be considered marital property. If a business was established after the marriage, it is likely to be regarded marital property.

Sometimes, businesses created by one spouse prior to marriage are not considered marital property. However, this is not always the case. For instance, if the non-owner spouse made contributions to the firm throughout the marriage, it may still be considered marital property. It is vital to remember that “contributed” can refer not just to direct contributions of time to the business, but also to caring for the home while the business owner ran the company.

Using a prenuptial agreement to safeguard business ownership

A prenuptial agreement is the greatest approach to ensure that a business is not subject to property division in the event of a divorce. Occasionally, a spouse may start a business after the wedding, in which case it would be impossible to include it in a prenuptial agreement. However, it is possible to obtain a postnuptial agreement to define business ownership, which is similar to a prenuptial agreement except that it is executed after the couple is married.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Inheritance and Divorce

Learn whether a court can divide your inheritance in a divorce.

Not necessarily. For purpose of divorce, the law usually categorizes property as either “marital” or “separate.” As a general rule, marital property is subject to division between the spouses; separate property isn’t. This is true whether you live in a “community property” state (like California), which divides property on a 50-50 basis, or an “equitable distribution” state (like New Jersey), which apportions property based on what the court believes is fair under the circumstances.

Is My Spouse Entitled to My Inheritance in Divorce?

That depends on a number of factors, including where you live. Each state’s divorce laws will govern how to address inheritance, in community property states and equitable distribution states as well.

In the overwhelming majority states, an inheritance is considered separate property, belonging exclusively to the spouse who received it and it cannot be divided in a divorce. That holds true whether a spouse received the inheritance before or during the marriage. But in a state like New Hampshire, for example, courts may consider an inheritance to be divisible in a divorce (unless you can persuade a judge that it shouldn’t be).

Now here’s the rub—although your state may initially view an inheritance as separate property, your actions can change it into marital property. Sometimes that happens intentionally in what is called a “transmutation of property.”

An example of an intentional transmutation of property from separate to marital is where a spouse inherits a house, then puts the other spouse’s name on the deed. The spouses move in and share the costs of living there. In that scenario, if a divorce rolls around, the inheriting spouse would be hard pressed to convince a judge that the house was never intended to be marital property.

But let’s say the inheriting spouse never puts the other spouse’s name on the deed, and neither spouse lives in the house during the marriage. At some point down the road, however, the non-owner spouse contributes to improvements which increase the house’s value. At the time of divorce, a judge might determine that—although the house itself may not be marital property—the increase in value specifically due to the improvements is a part of the marital estate, and thus subject to division between the spouses.

The most common example of converting an inheritance to marital property is when the inheriting spouse “commingles” (mixes) the inheritance with marital assets. This can be intentional, but often it happens by mistake. For example, Uncle Zeke passes on and leaves you $10,000 in his will. After you and your spouse break out the bubbly and toast the kindly gentleman, you put the money in an existing savings account that’s in both your names, and which either of you can access at will. If you did that because you wanted to share the inheritance money with your spouse . . . great! Mission accomplished.

But if you thought that putting that money in the joint account was just for convenience, and that it would always remain yours alone, you may have put yourself behind the proverbial eight-ball. By commingling the inheritance with marital funds, you’ve likely converted it into marital property. You can make an argument to the court that this was never your intention, but you’ll have an uphill climb.

Can I Claim My Ex’s Inheritance Received After Divorce?

Sharing a spouse’s inheritance after divorce is a nonstarter, unless your divorce judgment specifically addresses that topic.

That said, there is a situation where an ex-spouse’s post-divorce inheritance could come into play. If you’re receiving spousal support (alimony) or child support, you might be able to petition the court to increase the support amount, based on that inheritance or any interest income the principal is making.

Courts usually allow modification of support—both up and down—for a variety of reasons, such as a job loss, a spouse or child becoming disabled, or a spouse’s substantial pay increase (again, depending on the laws in your state).

You’d first have to see whether your state views an inheritance as a potential basis for a modification request. If it does, you may have viable grounds to seek an increase in support. Of course, this is going to depend in large measure on how significant the inheritance is. Your best bet for success is when the inheritance has substantially enhanced your ex-spouse’s standard of living.

 

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Different Types of Separation

What does the term “separated” mean? Discover the distinctions between trial separation, permanent separation, and legal separation.

When it comes to marriage, separation is not synonymous with divorce—even if you have a court-ordered “judgment of separation.” Separation is when you live apart from your spouse but remain legally married until you obtain a divorce judgment. While a separation does not terminate your marriage, it does affect your financial obligations to your spouse until the divorce is final.

Separation is classified into three types: trial, permanent, and legal. In the majority of states, only one of the three (legal separation) alters your legal status—but all three have the potential to impair your legal rights.

Separation of Trials

If you and your spouse feel the need for a break from the relationship, one option is to live apart while deciding whether to divorce—a process known as “trial separation.” Legally, little changes during a trial separation—all applicable marital property laws remain in effect. For instance, a court will consider the money you earn and the items you purchase during the trial separation to be property acquired by a married person. This frequently means that you and your spouse jointly own the property (depending on your state’s property ownership laws).

If you and your spouse separate but intend to reconcile, it’s a good idea to write an informal agreement outlining the separation rules. For instance, your trial separation agreement may address the following:

  • whether you’re going to continue sharing a joint bank account or credit cards.
  • how you intend to budget your expenditures
  • who will continue to reside in the family home
  • how you intend to split expenses, and
  • If you have children, discuss how and when you will spend time with them.
  • If you decide to divorce, you may be able to use this trial separation agreement as a template for a marital settlement agreement.
  • If you and your spouse agree that reconciliation is impossible, your trial separation becomes permanent.

Permanent Distancing

If you live apart from your spouse with no intention of reconciling but are not divorced, the law considers you to be permanently separated.

How Separation from Your Spouse Affects Your Rights

Depending on the local law, a permanent separation may alter the property rights of spouses. For instance, in some states, assets and debts acquired during a permanent separation are considered to belong exclusively to the spouse who acquired them. Once a couple is permanently divorced, each spouse assumes sole responsibility for any debts incurred. Similarly, spouses who divorce permanently lose their right to any property or income acquired by the other.

Why Does the Date of Final Divorce Matter?

Due to the fact that spouses’ rights to each other’s property and obligations to pay debts change significantly as of the date of a permanent separation, spouses frequently argue bitterly about the precise date of their permanent separation. For instance, if your spouse left in a huff and spent a month sleeping on a friend’s couch, but you did not discuss divorce until after the month passed, the date the separation became permanent may be unclear. That means that if your spouse earned a sizable bonus at work during that month, you may be able to argue that you are entitled to a portion of the bonus.

If you move out of the house and do not anticipate a long-term reconciliation with your spouse, reconsider going out or spending the night together just for the sake of old times. If you reconcile briefly, you risk changing the date of separation and becoming financially responsible for your spouse during a time when you believed you were solely responsible for your own.

After you have legally separated from your spouse and reached basic agreements regarding your joint assets and debts, you are not required to divorce immediately. You may choose to remain married for a variety of reasons, including avoiding disruption of your children’s lives or retaining insurance coverage. Or, in some cases, preserving the status quo is simply more convenient than pursuing a divorce. On the other hand, you may decide to divorce as soon as the paperwork is finalized, or when the required separation or waiting period in your state expires.

Is Separation Required Prior to Divorce in My State?

Certain states’ laws require spouses to separate before a divorce can be finalized. State laws governing required separations vary in detail—for example, many states require spouses to live “separately and apart” for a specified period of time before the court will accept a divorce petition (formal request), while others do not require separation until after the petition is filed. If you file before meeting the requirements for separation, the court may dismiss your case. Other states may require spouses to live apart during the divorce process.

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