Child custody describes the hands-on relationship between a parent and their kids and is divided into two separate parts that involve legal decision-making and parenting time. However, it is important to note that state law does not use the word “custody” to refer to a parent’s rights. Instead, it uses the words “parenting time” and “legal decision-making authority.” Those two concepts encompass the entirety of what used to be considered child custody.
Parenting time deals with a parent’s visitation rights or physical access to a child, including the schedule of when either parent gets to see them. Legal decision-making authority concerns who makes important decisions for the child, including personal care, religious upbringing, education, and medical needs. For help with understanding child custody in Mesa, it is best to work with a skilled lawyer from our well-versed legal team.
Custodial Versus Non-Custodial Parents
Attorneys, online articles, and even court documents refer to a custodial parent or a non-custodial parent. Under state law, however, there is no such thing as a custodial or non-custodial parent.
In terms of how parenting time is divided between parents, one may assume that the custodial parent has their child more often than the non-custodial parent. Even when there is equal parenting time, though, one parent still pays child support to the other.
Only legal parents are recognized by state law, which are parents who have legal obligations to a child – whether biological or adopted. Biological parents may not be legal parents if their rights are terminated. Sometimes, a biological parent’s rights are terminated when it is in the best interests of the child to do so. There are several grounds for which a parent could have their rights terminated, such as neglect, abuse, or abandonment.
The Purpose of Child-Sharing Arrangements
The purpose of a parenting plan is to define the roles and responsibilities of each legal parent. For example, a child-sharing arrangement that is signed by both parties or ordered by the court defines both parents’ rights with respect to legal decision-making authority and parenting time.
An order for financial support related to child-raising costs may be issued separately. Child support can be adjusted based on the amount of parenting time either party has with their children. If one parent cares for the child more often, that may place them at an advantage when the courts are calculating child support. For this reason, understanding child custody in Mesa is crucial for obtaining the support you need from your child’s other parent.
Factors That Can Impact Custody
In Mesa, parenting time and legal decision-making authority are determined based on the best interests of the child in question. The Mesa family court located at 222 N Javelina Dr must look at the facts and evidence and make a determination on what is best for the child in any given custody case.
That could be joint legal decision-making rights, which means the parents make decisions about their kids together, or sole legal custody, which means one parent makes the decision without any input or consideration from the other. Additionally, it could be a combination of the two, which would be joint legal decision-making rights where the parents consult with each other and reach a consensus.
In the event that they are unable to do so, one parent can be designated as the final decision-maker. For example, if two parents disagree on where their child should attend school, whoever was given final decision-making authority can make the choice, which cannot be challenged by the other parent.
An Attorney Could Improve Your Understanding of Child Custody in Mesa
Our steadfast attorneys add value in a number of ways. One of the biggest ways to add value in a custody proceeding is to help the client tell their story. When someone goes to court, they have a limited amount of time in front of a judge and a limited amount of time to present evidence. If they are unfamiliar with the system, it is likely that they will run out of time. They may be uncomfortable and unable to do a good of a job telling their story.
Family court focuses on credibility, and many cases involve two parents with two different points of view about the same set of facts. One party may think it is in the child’s best interests for the parents to share equal parenting time. Another party may think it is in the child’s best interests for the other parent to have every other weekend.
A judge listens to both parties’ testimony and reviews the evidence and facts. When there are disputed facts and testimony, the decision comes down to the best interests of the child. We could assist you with understanding child custody in Mesa and help you present your story in the most effective way possible to increase your chances of success. Call us today to get started.