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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Child Custody in Arizona

Custody in legal terms refers to the person a court has appointed as the parent or guardian of a child. The person retaining child custody manages the well-being of that child. The legal custodial parent will have the right to make decisions about the child’s education, religious teachings, and healthcare. There are different types of custody, but courts in Arizona do not favor one over the other. The decisions will be based on what’s ultimately good for the child. If you are a parent currently seeking custody of the child, or if you are already a custodial parent, here are answers to some of the questions frequently asked on the subject:

What is the different between “sole,” “joint,” and “legal” decision making authority?

These are three ways in which a court can grant custody of a child. Sole Legal Decision Making means that one single parent has complete legal custody of the child’s legal decision moving forward. The court has granted this parent the express authority to make major decisions regarding the child’s life. Parents can discuss these issues together, but the sole Legal Decision Making parent will always have the final say.

In contrast, in Joint Legal Decision Making situations, both parents have legal decision making authority over a child. However, in order to reach a final decision, both parent must agree—or divert the case to mediation or back to the court if no agreement can be reached. 

Can the court declare one parent’s rights superior to another’s in a Joint Legal Decision Making case?

No. Generally, when a court grants joint Legal Decision Making authority, both parents have equal rights to make decisions regarding the child’s well-being. No one parent is deemed superior to another. However, in special cases, one parent may get the sole right to make decisions regarding a certain aspect of the child’s life if the court decides it’s the best for the child. You should refer to an attorney to seek more family law and child custody information with regards to your situation.

Is there a difference between legal decision making powers and physical custody?

Absolutely yes.  Legal Decision Making authority relates to granting a parent the authority to make decisions about the child’s wellbeing, e.g. where the child goes to school. Physical custody, also called Parenting Time, determines where the child lives from day to day. A parent can have legal custody, but not physical Parenting Time, although this is rare. If a child is to live with both parents for equal amounts of time, then the court will have to grant both parents joint physical Parenting Time. Some parents may prefer for the child to live in one place without moving around, and have one parent with physical virtually all Parenting Time. But both parents, in this case, can have legal custody as well. Refer to Family Law help in Scottsdale, or your local area, for specific information.  Legal assistance is recommended to navigate these complex legal channels. 

Are court custody orders final?

The court decides custody when the parents cannot agree upon themselves, how to share custody of a child. A court may grant early custody orders when divorce or separation filings are in process. Once the divorce or a legal separation becomes final, the court may make modify prior orders which are dramatically changed at the time of trial. This custody decision by the court will stand, subject to certain exceptions, for at least one year, or upon a showing of a substantial and continuing change of circumstances thereafter.

If you want a custody ruling to be modified after trial, you can petition the court to make changes to the order. You will have to present strong evidence that the changes requested are in the best interest of the child. You are very likely going to need the able assistance of legal counsel at that time. 

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Scottsdale Family Attorneys at Canterbury Law Group

The Scottsdale family attorneys at Canterbury Law Group handle all types of Phoenix and Scottsdale family law matters including divorce, child custody, paternity, prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, spousal maintenance, Decree enforcement, child relocation, father’s rights, mother’s rights and grandparents’ rights.

If you are not sure whether or not you need a family law attorney in Scottsdale, here is an outline of what our lawyers can likely help you with:

  • Divorce – Whether you are considering filing for divorce or you’ve already been served with a divorce petition, it is critical to speak with an attorney immediately to assess your legal rights and take the necessary steps to protect them. Every situation is unique and our attorneys are well equipped to provide you with the tools to make the best decision that suits your particular situation.
  • Prenups/Postnups – Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can be smart financial planning tools for all marriages but are especially common in second and third marriages, for business owners and/or when one partner has a large inheritance (received or expected in the future
  • Father’s Rights – Our attorneys are experienced in helping Fathers get fair and equitable treatment by the courts in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Arizona.
  • Child Custody – Typically when parents cannot mutually agree on a child-rearing plan, the court will often establish a plan that both parents must follow concerning the children’s health and welfare. Arizona law requires that the best interest of the child be the lead consideration above any other.
  • Alimony – Spousal maintenance is where one spouse pays the other spouse monthly support payments for a defined term of months or years after the divorce is final to help the less wealthy spouse transition to the next phase of their life and ideally for them to be come self-sufficient.
  • Paternity – When a couple has children without being married, they should still legally establish who the lawful father of the child is, as well as determine what rights and obligations exist toward the child. Get your court orders now, while the child is young—do not wait until later.
  • Relocation – Out of state relocation by parents and children has become a common issue in family law and is taken extremely seriously as it often has a profound impact on all involved. As a result, Arizona has very detailed laws which outline specific requirements and guidelines for cases involving a parent who wishes to relocate the child or to prevent child relocation out of state.
  • Grandparents – Once a grandparents’ rights petition is filed, the court will consider several specific statutory factors to determine whether a court-ordered grandparent visitation is in the best interest of the child. These rights cannot be pursued unless at least one parent is dead or the parents are divorced.

Ultimately, we realize that hiring a Scottsdale family attorney can be a challenging task. Call the lawyers at Canterbury Law Group today to schedule you consultation. 480-240-0040

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Child Custody After Divorce

At Canterbury Law Group, our Scottsdale divorce lawyers fight to protect the future and well-being of children affected by divorce. While winning your case, we also work diligently to secure a sound emotional and financial outcome for children of divorced parents.

If you are starting to consider a divorce or if you were recently served with a divorce petition, the Scottsdale divorce lawyers at Canterbury Law Group suggest immediately consulting with a trusted attorney to assess and protect all of your legal rights. Delays may limit your child custody options.

Divorce can be a delicate and painful experience for all involved. Our attorneys will work diligently to ensure the children remain a priority throughout and after the divorce, and strive to remedy sensitive issues including custody arrangements and parenting plans with concern and attention, striving to reduce the possible future damage divorce can have on children and relationships.

If you have children that will be affected by divorce, here are some important custody arrangements you should understand. The standard types of Legal Decision Making (child custody):

  • Parenting Time (physical custody) — Determines which specific days of the week that the minor child will be in the physical custody and control of the parent or his or her agents
  • Legal Decision Making — Grants one parent or both parents the right to make important decisions about how a child will be raised with regard to religion, medical care, education, etc.
  • Joint Legal Decision Making — Grants joint legal decision making to both parents assuming the parents can jointly agree on all issues of their child’s upbringing, if disagreements arise, the parties can divert to a court appointed Parenting Coordinator or return to Court to litigate.
  • Sole Custodial Parent — Grants one parent both legal decision making and full parenting time (custody) rights over the child (rare).

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) 240-0040.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Understanding Divorce and Custody Terms in Arizona

A component of any Arizona divorce when children are involved is a court enforceable parenting plan. When parents cannot mutually agree on a child plan, the court will often establish a plan that the parents must follow for the children’s health and welfare. In some situations, unmarried parents, relatives or other court approved persons can obtain custody or parenting time. Regardless of the facts presented, Arizona law requires that the best interest of the child be the lead consideration above any other.

The family law attorneys at Canterbury Law provide legal strategies throughout the Phoenix area to protect what matters most in divorce – the long-term welfare of the children. Here are common custody terms that one can expect to hear when children are involved in divorce.

Sole Custody – This term is used when one person has sole legal custody of a child. In this situation, the court orders that one parent be responsible for making the major decisions regarding the child’s care or welfare. Although both parents may discuss these matters, the parent designated by the court has authority to make final decisions in the event the parents do not agree.

Joint Custody – Often referred to as joint legal custody or joint physical custody, this type of custody requires that both parents submit a parenting plan to the judge. Canterbury Law in Phoenix can guide you on all the steps in your divorce and custody needs.

Legal Custody – Legal custody is the status where one or both parents are responsible for making the major decisions regarding the child’s care or welfare. When legal custody is awarded to one parent, it is called “sole legal custody.”

What is “Joint Legal Custody”? – When the court grants joint legal custody, each of the parents has the same rights to make decisions about the child’s care and welfare and neither parent’s rights are superior to those of the other parent.

Joint Physical Custody – When the court grants joint physical custody, the place where the child lives (the child’s physical residence) is shared between the parents in a way that the child will have essentially equal time and contact with both parents. Joint physical custody may be granted in situations where parents share joint legal custody or when one parent is granted sole custody.

Let our dedicated family law team help with protecting the security of your children. Contact us today for a consultation.