Any family law case involving children must be handled carefully by attorneys and courts. In fact, judges are required by law to consider many factors when determining the best interests of a child in Mesa for any parenting time or legal decision-making disputes. Our team members are familiar with the way local judges interpret the law and are available to help you develop a tactful and effective strategy in your case.
If you’ve been painted out to be a person that shouldn’t have time with their kids, you should contact a local child custody attorney. This is one of those scenarios where you simply cannot afford to represent yourself because it can be hard to dig out of that hole by yourself. Not all judges will give you a fair shot or listen to you once you have been painted out to be dangerous or unfit or if you have procedurally messed up in the past, so it is advisable to retain legal representation before going to court.
What Factors Does the Court Consider?
The best interests of the child are outlined in Arizona Revised Statutes §25-403. The factors specifically considered by the court include:
- The past, present, and potential future relationship between the child and the parent
- The interactions and the relationships between the child and their parents, siblings, and any other person who affects their best interest
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
- The wishes of the child as to decision making and parenting time if they are of suitable age and maturity
- The mental and physical health of all the individuals involved
- Which parent is more likely to allow frequent meaningful contact
- Whether or not there’s been domestic violence
- Whether or not there’s been false reporting
A judge is required to make findings under each of the categories before he or she awards legal decision making and parenting time to either parent on a final basis. It is worth noting that whether one parent cheated on the other is not considered in custody determinations as part of the best interest analysis in Mesa. In other words, a parent’s infidelity will not be weighed against their parental rights.
Suitable Living Environment
A family law judge must look at whether a parent has a suitable home. If they’re homeless or don’t have a bed for their child, their parenting time and legal decision-making rights will be impacted.
You are not required to live in a mansion, but kids need their own beds and places to put their things. If the suitability of a parent’s living environment is contested, there might be a court appointed advisor or best interest attorney to actually check out the home, visit with the kids, and talk to the significant other and anyone else who lives in the home.
Impact of a Child’s Wishes
If a child is of suitable age and maturity, their wishes will be considered, but a judge almost never speaks to a child directly. Instead, children in family law cases are almost always interviewed by a third party such as a counselor. Those interviews can be confidential or non-confidential.
However, if a child’s wishes go against what is in their best interests, the judge is not bound by their preferences. Typically, the older the kids are, the more heavily the judge will weigh their opinions.
Evidence of a Child’s Best Interests
Any evidence related to the best interests of a child is always admissible in a family law case. Text messages, photos, and videos are commonly used to indicate a parent’s fitness and capacity.
Even if evidence is hearsay or it might not be admissible under another circumstance, anything relevant is admissible when it comes to the best interests of the child. For the Mesa family court, there’s simply nothing that is more important than determining what is in the best interests of a child.
Changes over Time
What is in a child’s best interests can change over time for all sorts of reasons. For example, if a child changes schools, a parent gets remarried, there are new kids in the house, or the child is struggling in school, the child’s needs may require reassessing in court.
Fortunately, you can file to modify your child-sharing arrangement any time after the original decree has been in effect for 12 months. While parents can always decide between themselves to reevaluate and modify custody, they would need to take the case to court to make their decisions legally binding.
Learn More about Determining the Best Interests of a Child in Mesa from an Attorney
If your custody case gets off to the wrong start, it can really hurt you later on and could be a very difficult hole to dig yourself out of. You should seek legal counsel sooner rather than later. Call our firm today for more details on what goes into determining the best interests of a child in Mesa.