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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.

Preference for the 'Primary Caregiver'
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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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Sole Custody

When a divorce involves children, Canterbury Law Group fights to protect their future and well-being both emotionally and financially.

Our Scottsdale divorce lawyers work diligently to ensure your children remain a priority throughout and after the divorce, and strive to remedy sensitive issues including custody arrangements and parenting plans. Our primary focus is to reduce the possible future damage divorce can have on children and relationships.

We often see parents who hope to win sole child custody and “take the kids”. However, it is important to realize that the court’s priority is the best interests of the child, which frequently mandates a ruling of joint custody. Many parents go into a child custody hearing with the intention of seeking sole custody. For some parents, this is because they believe that the other parent is “unfit” to raise their child. Any parent hoping to be awarded sole custody should realize that there is a higher burden of proof for the parent seeking sole custody. You will have to literally prove in a court of law that the other parent is an unfit parent based on substance abuse, criminal history or acts of domestic violence.

To award sole custody, the courts have to establish one parent as the “better parent,” which can be difficult to do, particularly if both parents have been involved up until this point. In addition, most judges are reluctant to prevent either parent from having a relationship with their child because the implication is that both parents, together, are best able to care for a child. As a result, any parent seeking sole custody has to prove that he or she is best able to care for a child, with or without the assistance of the other parent.

In addition, from a judge’s standpoint, parents should not be trashing one another during a child custody hearing. Instead, the parent seeking sole custody should focus on proving that he or she is the better parent without attacking his or her counterpart. When seeking sole custody, one should focus on the physical and psychological well-being of the child. Physical well-being includes your child’s routine, sleeping habits, eating schedule and activities. Judges tend to notice parents who encourage a healthy lifestyle. The factors of psychological well-being may include making sure that the child has access to liberal visitation with the other parent. Judges tend to favor parents who openly support the child’s the ongoing relationship with the other parent. Whether hoping for sole custody or joint custody, the legal team at Canterbury Law Group in Scottsdale can effectively represent you. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Joint Custody

When parents divorce or separate, they come across new legal jargon like “joint custody.” But what does that actually mean in a legal and practical sense?

In contrast to solo custody, where one parent has sole legal custody of their kid, joint custody involves both parents sharing these rights.

Depending on which parent has the child’s legal custody, either joint custody or solo custody may apply. Parents who share custody have equal say over important life choices for their children. Parents do not share these rights in single custody cases.

Joint custody arrangements and legal custody

It is crucial to mention legal custody in any conversation about child custody agreements. When a parent has legal custody, they are able to make important choices that will effect their child’s future. Major choices are frequently made in relation to extracurricular activities, health care, extracurricular schools, and religious instruction. However, other facets of your child’s life might also be considered to be such. When trying to ascertain the areas of your child’s life over which you possess decision-making authority in a joint custody arrangement, it is crucial to verify with your attorney regarding what technically qualifies as “major.”

Parents who share custody have an equal say in such important choices. You risk being found in contempt of court if you try to stop the other parent from taking part in this decision-making. Any custody agreement is joint only if there is an equal division of the legal authority to make such significant choices.

Every state has its own laws on the matter, and joint custody can take many different forms.

Official Language for Spending Time with Children

In the majority of states, time spent with your child when you share custody of them is formally known as “timesharing,” “parenting time,” or “visitation.” While many may refer to such a situation as having “joint physical custody,” the term is not legally recognized to describe features of visitation in custody situations where joint legal responsibility for important life decisions is allocated.

One Standard Arrangement for Custody
One popular form of joint custody is one in which both parents are entitled to an equal amount of time with their child while also sharing the responsibility for all significant life decisions for that child. In these arrangements, the child will live with each parent for a certain amount of time, and the parents will work together to make choices regarding the child’s welfare and upbringing in a manner akin to when they were married (legal custody).

Example: Mother and Father agree to jointly decide on all significant matters pertaining to the welfare and upbringing of the child (legal custody) and set up a timetable where the child spends one week at a time with each parent.

Additional Types of Joint Custody

There are further joint custody situations that parents can come upon. One involves equal physical contact with the child but unequal legal custody. This could imply that the child will only live with one parent while both parents agree to work together to make parenting decisions.

Example: Mother and Father agree to jointly resolve all significant matters pertaining to the welfare and raising of the child (legal custody), however the child will reside with Mother, with the Father being granted visitation rights. A parent who has visitation rights is allowed to spend a specific amount of time with their child.

There are several forms of joint custody. For instance, even though the child spends time with both parents on a rotating basis, one parent can be given the entire authority to decide on the child’s educational options.

Get Legal Assistance from a Professional in Your Child Custody Dispute

It can be advantageous to have a knowledgeable attorney defending and guiding you in a custody dispute. Whether you want shared custody or some other arrangement, a child custody lawyer can help you get the best outcome for you and your child. Get a jump start right now by getting in touch with a local child custody lawyer.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Explain Child Custody to a Child

In Arizona family courts, judges often do everything in their power to keep divorce proceedings from negatively impacting children’s emotional well-being, especially when there are contentious custody proceedings taking place. Most judges discourage parents from even speaking to the children about custody disputes. However, at some point parents getting a divorce will eventually have to explain the divorce and custody arrangements to the children. It will have to be done regardless of the type of custody arrangement the court ultimately orders.

Explaining custody to a child can be a bit difficult if the child is still quite young. The process may be easier for an older teen, but they are still emotionally vulnerable as well. You can always ask for family Law help in Scottsdale to get pointers in explaining custody arrangements to children. Here are several tips from divorce experts who have navigated these waters before you:

Tell Them the Important Facts of the Custody Arrangement

You don’t need to explain the intricate legalities of joint or sole custody to children. However, you will have to explain terms of the custody arrangement as simply as possible, because it will affect them more profoundly than you. Here are the things you should tell children:

  • With which parents the kids will stay, or how much time they will have to spend at each parent’s house. These courts ordered parenting time allocations are not optional and must be followed by both parents, and the children.
  • The parent who will drop them off and pick up from school.
  • The parent who will handle transportation.
  • Repeatable schedules with each parent.
  • Living arrangements for the summer or annual vacation times (e.g. Spring or Fall Break).

Avoid Distressing Subjects

You don’t have to explain to children why the custody arrangement is the way it is, or why the parents went through a divorce. Do not bad mouth the other parent in front of the children, either. Doing some of these things may even land you in trouble with the court. Do not discuss child support, alimony or other money issues with the children either. If something is not of immediate concern to the wellbeing of the child, avoid the subject.  Money and property and other adult issues should remain discussed between counsel and the parents, not the minor children.

Let Them Know They are Loved

Children of divorced parents may experience a host of negative emotions, including feelings of abandonment or guilt. Some children feel like it is “their fault” that Mom and Dad split up.  It’s important to let the children know that both parents love them even if the parents are now divorced. Don’t leave any room for them to be alarmed about the custody arrangement. Show them that it is in their best interest. If the children have to spend time at two locations, tell them it is so because both parents want to take part in both their lives. Explain custody in a positive note so children are not unnecessarily distressed and worried with the new realities post-Decree.

Let them Feel Comfortable with Lawyers and Mediators

Children in the middle of contentious divorces may have to put up with strangers whom they keep encountering like lawyers and court-appointed advisors or interviewers. It’s important that children become familiar with these people and this process and not feel ambushed.  If explaining custody is too much for you, you can ask your lawyer to gently break the news to them. The lawyer will be familiar with what information is allowed by the court and what is not, to tell directly to the children.

It’s never easy to discuss divorce or custody with children. Hopefully, the above suggestions will help.  Regardless, you should rely on your chosen legal professional to help you navigate these critical and choppy waters.

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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

Family Law and Child Custody Information

Determining the custody of a child when divorcing is not easy. Child custody and the related laws are largely determined by state law, though certain federal policies may apply. Here are some basic facts to know about child custody if you are filing for a divorce:

Working out the Custody of a Child

There are two ways to decide which parent gets custody: by trial or private mutual negotiation outside of court. Some parents who divorce amicably can discuss among themselves regarding with whom the child may live after the divorce, and who can visit and when. Divorcing couples can also hire a third party mediator to ensure that these discussions go well. If the parents are unable to reach a mutual agreement, then the case would go to trial where a judge (not a jury) will decide custody and visitation rights.

Types of Custody

There are different types of custody family courts grant.

Physical custody: Also known as “parenting time”, this is the type of custody that decides which parent the child lives with majority of the time. Courts usually grant physical custody to both parents on a joint and equal basis absent parental fitness issues. 

Legal custody: Also known as “legal decision making”, if the court has already appointed a physical custodian, then the other parent might get legal custody. It’s the right of a parent to make decisions about the child’s welfare, education, health, religion even when the child is not living with him or her.

Joint custody: This is an arrangement where the child spends equal amounts of time with both parents following a divorce. There are both proponents and detractors of this type of custody. It’s ultimately something the divorcing parents have to decide. Getting joint custody requires showing cooperation between the divorcing couple and the willingness to make decisions about the child’s welfare together.

Split custody: If the divorcing parents have multiple children, the court may decide to “split” up the custody of the children among the parents. For example, if there are two children, the court may grant custody of one child to only one parent. Courts, however, do not usually separate siblings in this manner.

To determine the type of custody best suited for your case, you will need an attorney’s help. Hire a local attorney from your county, for example family Law help in Scottsdale if you live in Arizona.

Unmarried Parents

Not only divorcing parents need to decide the custody of the child. There are different laws that determine the custody of the child if the parents are unmarried. Most states have laws requiring the granting of physical custody to the biological mother of the child as long as the mother is fit to be a good parent. Unmarried fathers often do not get custody of the child, but Fathers are typically preferred for custody over other relatives like grandparents, or prospective foster or adoptive parents.  Unmarried parents can sometimes be awarded 50/50 custody.  Every case is different. 

How Custody is Granted

The courts take into account various factors when granting custody. Mainly, the court will decide which parent is best suited to be a child’s main caretaker. The child’s wellbeing is always considered above the desires of the parents or others who have filed for custody.

Different states evaluate the “best interest” standard differently. But, most take into consideration the mental and physical fitness of the parents, the child’s relationship to parents or others in the household, the need for a stable home, religious or cultural issues at play, the child’s treatment at the hands of parents, possible history of abuse, and so on. If the child is old enough, his or her wishes will also be taken into consideration.  Each state has different rules of how old a child must be before his or her ‘wishes’ regarding custody will be heard by the Court. 

The parents in any case should hire a good attorney to prove to the court that they are the most fit to be the child’s primary caretaker. It will be up to you to protect your parental rights, as the courts will prioritize the child’s.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Child Custody Tips for the New Year

During the New Year, many parents strive to improve child custody situations. As authorities in Scottsdale child custody, the lawyers at Canterbury Law Group can offer suggestions to help ensure your success:

Be Actively Involved – Make sure you are able to demonstrate that you are significantly involved in your child’s life by taking an active role in the care, development, and discipline of your child. If the child is young, participate in feeding, bathing, walking, reading, napping and medical care. As they grow older, take part in their educational development and extracurricular activities. Get to know your children’s teachers, doctors, counselors, and coaches. Your ability to demonstrate the extent and quality of time with your child prior to and post separation is critical. If the other parent is interfering with your involvement, document your attempts and the resistance that you are receiving.

Establish a Physical Custody Schedule – If you live separately from the other parent, it is critical that you negotiate a physical custody schedule that accurately represents your long-term goal of shared parenting, ideally before a custody petition or court complaint has been filed. If you currently have a visitation agreement, make every effort not to miss any of your scheduled time.

Promote Involvement of the other Parent – Show that you encourage the contact and active involvement between your child and the other parent. Unless clear evidence shows the child is in danger while in their care, the Family Court will frown upon your interference with the child’s relationship to their other parent.

Provide a Healthy, Stable Environment – Present a safe, nurturing and stable environment. Demonstrate that you provide a healthy environment by maintaining a steady, clutter free home with a bedroom for your child and a safe play space. Provide regular, nutritious meals and keep a record of your grocery receipts. Get those kids to bed early and to school on time.

If you need assistance with your custody or joint parenting plan, contact the Phoenix divorce attorneys at Canterbury Law Group! We can help ensure the New Year is enjoyable for all.

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