Who gets the kids? The Arizona Guide To Custody

When it comes to custody of the children in divorce, the first question is often “Who Gets The Kids?” It can be an explosive point in a difficult divorce, so your first order of business is to determine your game plan based on the rules in your home state.

This article will give you the big picture in the battle for custody.

From Custody To Legal Decision Making

In 2013, the Arizona legislature changed the term “child custody” or “legal custody” to “legal decision making.” These terms will be used interchangeably within this article.

“Parenting time” now replaces the term “visitation” for parents. All parents have “parenting time” regardless of whether they are the “custodial parent.”

The Legislature also removed the terms “custodial parent” or “primary residential parent.” The idea is that one parent should not be undermined by being given “visitation” or being deemed the “non-custodial parent.” Times have changed and many parents do not live in the same household. A parent should not lose their status simply because they do not live under the same roof.
Sometimes a parent actually becomes more involved after a divorce or the parents have split up, because each parent must develop their own routine. In a marriage, it is easy to divide duties between the spouses. One often takes the primary role for the children, whether that is for morning routine, baths, homework, doctors’ appointments, etc. When parents split up, this changes.

This is certainly the case with Jim and Monica. While they lived in the same household Monica did the vast majority of the parenting, and Jim felt undermined whenever he tried to parent. His attempts to set boundaries and routine with his children were thwarted by Monica, who felt he was being too strict. Jim was simply trying to instill routine, responsibility and discipline for his children. If the court only looked to who was doing the majority of the parenting while married, Jim would be forever doomed to be a second-class parent. He hopes that the divorce will allow him to become a bigger part of his children’s lives and teach them values that he and Monica no longer share.

Jurisdiction (UCCJEA)

A state must have jurisdiction over all the parties and the children in order to make any orders affecting them. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is a law that has been adopted by 45 states, including Arizona, in order to make sure that only one state has jurisdiction over a minor child at any given time. This helps avoid “forum shopping” and competing orders.

Forum shopping is the concept that a person may take their children to a state most favorable to their particular position. For instance, in Oregon, courts will award joint custody only if both parents agree. If they do not agree, one parent will be given sole custody. In Arizona, there is a strong presumption to award joint custody, even if both parents are seeking sole custody.

In our hypothetical case, Monica may choose to move the children to Oregon, wait for the appropriate residential time frame to pass, and then file for divorce there, seeking sole custody. Poor Jim would have few options as Monica would most likely be granted sole custody. But the UCCJEA prevents that from happening.

The general rule is that the children’s home state is the state where they have resided for the last six months. Each and every petition for divorce or for custody must contain provisions about where the children have lived for the last six months in order to determine whether the state has proper jurisdiction. If the court lacks jurisdiction, any order is void.

There are several other ways that Arizona could become the children’s home state. And there are emergency jurisdictional provisions built into the UCCJEA.

  • Arizona is the home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of the child within six months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from Arizona but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in Arizona; or
  • A court of another state does not have jurisdiction, or a court of the home state of the child has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that Arizona is the more appropriate forum under R.S. §§ 25-1037 or 25-1038 and both of the following are true:

(1) The child and the child’s parents, or the child and at least one parent or a person acting as a parent, have a significant connection with Arizona other than mere physical presence, and

(2) Substantial evidence is available in Arizona concerning the child’s care, protection, training and personal relationships; or

(3) All courts having jurisdiction have declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that an Arizona court is the more appropriate forum to determine the custody of the child under R.S. §§ 25-1037 or 25-1038; or

(4) A court of any other state would not have jurisdiction under the criteria specified in the above provisions.10

The UCCGA can be tricky. If there are special circumstances you will definitely want to consult with a lawyer who can analyze the situation for you and determine if Arizona has jurisdiction.

In the event that two states are fighting over jurisdiction, or both parents have filed in different states, a specific hearing will be held to determine which state is the more proper forum for jurisdiction. The judges from both jurisdictions will get on the phone, and the attorneys and parties will be able to present a case for why their particular jurisdiction is the proper or most convenient forum, or if some other exception applies.

Legal Decision-Making (legal custody)

There is much confusion over the actual legal meaning of legal decision-making or legal custody. That may be why the Arizona Legislature changed the term to legal decision-making, which is arguably a more accurate description of the rights involved. Arizona supports parents who reach legal decision-making (custody) and parenting time (visitation) agreements without the intervention of the courts, and do everything in their power to facilitate an agreement. This includes sending parents to parenting conferences, mediation, and court-ordered alternative dispute resolution.

When parents share joint legal decision-making, both parents have equal rights and responsibilities, and neither parent has superior rights. The court assumes that parents will agree about major life decisions such as:

  • education,
  • personal care,
  • schooling, and
  • health care.

Anything outside of the major decisions does not fall under the term legal decision-making. Instead, during their parenting time each parent has a wide berth to make decisions about what happens with their children and their day-to-day activities.

The law presumes that divorcing parents will work as a team to raise their children. If either parent feels the joint legal decision-making is not in the children’s best interests, they can petition the court to have the status changed to sole legal decision-making.

Sole Legal Decision-Making

Like many jurisdictions, Arizona tends to favor joint legal decision-making over sole legal decision-making. Before 1979, it was a statutory preference to give custody to the mother of young children. That preference has been abolished, and the court is strictly forbidden from making a custody determination due to gender alone.

Sole legal decision- making means one parent is granted the custody of the children as well as the power to make decisions for their benefit. It does not mean the other parent loses all parental rights—they still are entitled to parenting time. A typical situation could be where the court has found evidence of domestic violence or recent drug or alcohol convictions. When the court has found that significant domestic violence has occurred, the evidence of that domestic violence is considered contrary to the best interest of the child. The court must then make arrangements for parenting time that protect both the child and the spouse. Most often in those cases, the courts may award sole decision-making to the victimized parent, with supervised visits for the other parent.

If a parent has been convicted of a drug or alcohol offense in the last 12 months, there is a presumption that awarding either joint or sole legal decision-making to that parent is not in the child’s best interest.

See our separate section on domestic violence.

Parenting Time

Most jurisdictions refer to parenting time as visitation—the time the non-custodial parent spends with their children. When the children are with one parent, that parent has the right to make any routine decisions for the children, but must provide food, clothing and shelter. Parenting time comes with both rights and responsibilities. Transportation expenses for parenting time can be set by agreement.

Let’s look at the actual language of the law:

The court shall adopt a parenting plan that provides for both parents to share legal decision-making regarding their child and that maximizes their respective parenting time. The court shall not prefer a parent’s proposed plan because of the parent’s or child’s gender.

Just a heads-up for all you parents: Courts in Arizona are overwhelmingly ordering JOINT LEGAL DECISION-MAKING. For example, just this month joint legal decision-making was ordered when one parent was in jail. In that case, the judge gave one parent the final decision-making authority.

When creating your parenting plan the primary question is: What is in the best interest of the children?

Without a finding after a hearing that parenting time would endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health, both parents are entitled to reasonable parenting time to ensure the child has frequent, meaningful, substantial, and continuing contact with both parents.

custodyWhat is the best interest of the child?

The court will determine legal decision-making and parenting time in accordance with the best interests of the child, and will consider all factors that are relevant to the child’s physical and emotional well-being, including:

  1. The past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.
  2. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest.
  3. The child’s adjustment to home, school and community.
  4. If the child is of suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child as to legal decision-making and parenting time.
  5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
  6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with the other parent. This paragraph does not apply if the court determines that a parent is acting in good faith to protect the child from witnessing an act of domestic violence or being a victim of domestic violence or child abuse.
  7. Whether one parent intentionally misled the court to cause an unnecessary delay, to increase the cost of litigation or to persuade the court to give a legal decision-making or a parenting time preference to that parent.
  8. Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-403.03.
  9. The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding legal decision-making or parenting time.
  10. Whether a parent has complied with A.R.S. §§ 25-351 et seq. (addressing domestic relations education on children’s issues).
  11. Whether either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect under A.R.S. § 13-2907.02 . The court may order sole legal decision-making or joint legal decision-making; however, joint legal decision-making generally will not be awarded in cases of domestic violence or other unfavorable circumstances. If the child’s parents cannot agree on a plan for legal decision-making or parenting time, each parent must submit a proposed parenting plan, and the court will determine unagreed issues. In addition, the court will make an order regarding child support, and may specify one parent as the primary caretaker of the child and one home as the primary home of the child for the purposes of defining eligibility for public assistance.

What this means is that the facts you want to present must be tied to a specific factor. For instance, if you want to present evidence that mom is materialistic and self-centered, you may offer this evidence under factor 5 (see above), the mental and physical health of the parties.

Parenting Plans

The Arizona statute on parenting plans continues by saying “if the parents cannot agree on legal decision-making or parenting plans, then each MUST submit a proposed parenting plan.”

At the very least, Arizona requires that you include:

  1. Each parent’s rights and responsibilities for the child’s personal care, health care, education and religious training.
    Personal care is a new term courtesy of the January 1, 2013 changes. We can surmise that personal care relates to haircuts, clothing style, piercings, and hair dye. Now, with this fourth category of legal decision-making, we can give final authority of certain categories to mom, and other final decision-making authority to dad. If religion and education are important to you, why not let the other parent have the “final decision-making authority” on health and personal care? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing anymore.
  2. A schedule of parenting time, including a holiday and school break schedule.
    Many parents do not want a specific schedule. They are afraid if they make changes or do not exercise all parenting time that they may be subject to sanction, and would therefore prefer a plan calling for “reasonable” or “liberal” parenting time. This won’t really work under the statute. The court wants a well-thought-out, specific plan. With that being said, there is nothing stopping parents from agreeing to modify the plan or be flexible with the plan.
  3. A procedure for exchanges, including who provides transportation, and where and when exchanges will take place.
    Who, what, where, when and how details are all important when figuring out exchanges. However, understand the spirit of the plan. Just because the plan says mom and dad are to exchange at McDonald’s doesn’t mean you can withhold the children when Aunt Alice comes on behalf of dad. It’s his time, and he gets to choose who transports on his behalf as his agent, unless the court has specified otherwise.
  4. A procedure by which proposed changes, disputes and alleged breaches may be mediated or resolved, which may include the use of conciliation services or private counseling.
    This is typically a generic provision requiring mediation prior to bringing an action for modification.
  5. A procedure for periodic review of the plan’s terms by the parents.

This is a great idea. It encourages the parents to talk about what’s working for their children and them and what isn’t. It encourages the parents to be cooperative and flexible, which is what the court wants! The Legislature also recognized that one parenting plan or legal order will rarely satisfy the needs of the children and parents over the long term as children change and relationships develop. Because of that, parents will be required to meet on an annual basis to work out parenting time schedules. When and if this meeting happens, both parents should bring all documentation to this meeting: their work schedules and the children’s school, extracurricular and vacation schedules. Both parents should be diligent about sending school reports and medical records to the other parent and encouraging the children to communicate with the other parent. Each parent should show respect for the other in front of the children—constant sniping or criticism of the absent parent might be construed as alienating behaviors, which sometimes warrants a change in parenting time in favor of the non-alienating parent.

  1. A procedure for communicating with each other about the child, including methods and frequency.
    More and more, judges are ordering parents to communicate prior to each exchange, either with an email, a notebook that goes back and forth, or a worksheet similar to what a day care might provide after a day with a child. The theme here is that courts want parents CO-PARENTING. They want both parents fully engaged in the daily activities of their children’s lives and they are moving away from the once-typical Disney dads who have every other weekend. Instead of deciding where a kindergartener should attend school, Florence with dad or Gilbert with mom, the court is telling parents to send the child to school in Queen Creek! The court wants each parent to have time with a child during the week and on weekends.

This can be very difficult for some parents. My advice here is that no one is better able make decisions about your children than you are. If you know that equal time isn’t good for your child, I urge you to work with the other parent to reach an agreement.
In sum, the court will order a plan that is in the best interest of the child, but they assume that the best interest of the child is equal parenting time. If that isn’t the case for you, we need to gather strong evidence to prove that is the case. Please give us a call to discuss your particular situation.

Temporary Custody

The court can make an order for temporary custody whenever a Petition for Dissolution or Petition to Establish is pending with the court. Many times, a separated spouse will call and let us know they have been cut off from the children by their spouse. They may have even called the police looking to get assistance with seeing their children. However, until a Petition is filed in court, the court has absolutely no jurisdiction to tell you and your spouse how to parent, and they will not enter a temporary order.

Without a temporary order, both parents are deemed to be custodial parents, yet neither of them can remove the child from the state, due to the immediate and automatic preliminary injunction that goes into place when the initial petition is filed. This injunction also prevents the parents from interfering with one another, harassing, threatening, molesting or disturbing the peace of the parent or the child. This won’t help a parenting time dispute or help determine where a kiddo should go to school. If there is disagreement on major issues or parenting time, a temporary order is the only thing that will help.

In Jim’s case, he wants to eventually be given equal time with his children. Monica has spent the vast majority of the time with the kids as he spent long hours working to support their lifestyle. He wants a temporary order of equal parenting time so that he doesn’t go into a final hearing being deemed an “absent father.” He also wants to give Monica plenty of time to go out and look for a job. She will probably claim she can’t work if she still has the responsibility for the three kids. Jim will need to make sure that he has adequate housing to have the kids during the pendency of the hearing. He wants to move in with his parents. They have plenty of room and can help him make the transition. His mom would love more time with the kids and both of his parents can offer him support through the transition. So, we decided to file for a temporary order regarding custody.

When requesting a temporary order, you must file a motion with an accompanying affidavit laying out the facts of why you need a temporary order. If the court is not convinced that a temporary order is necessary, they may deny the motion without a hearing. If the court does believe that the motion warrants a hearing, both parties will be ordered to appear and present their case.

Child CustodyChild Interviews

The court may interview children in chambers of the court. However, most of the time children are interviewed by a professional, either through conciliation services or by a court-appointed professional. When that is the case, the professional must meet requirements of education and training. They may be appointed to interview the children to get their opinion or they may interview the child and use the information, among other things, to make recommendations. In Jim’s case, the two older girls, Katie and Sarah, will likely be interviewed and the youngest, Josh, probably will not be interviewed due to his age.

Custody Evaluations 

Custody evaluations are now called many different things in Maricopa County. The following is a list of potential procedures and experts that may be involved when there is a custody dispute:

  • Parenting conferences
  • A psychological evaluation
  • A comprehensive family evaluation/ assessment
  • A limited family evaluation/assessment
  • Reunification therapy
  • Court-appointed adviser

The cost of the services can be divided between the parties, or borne by the party requesting the services, the parent with more resources, or by the court.

Sealing the record

For confidential or sensitive matters or when parents have a high-profile case, they can request that the court seal the record. The court isn’t obligated to do so, but the parents may benefit from asking when there are significant issues going on with the kids.

For Jim, his oldest daughter Katie is battling an eating disorder. This will certainly come up in the hearings and in order to protect Katie’s privacy, we will ask the court to seal the record.

School Choice/Private School

The court does have the ability to order a child to attend a private religious school and order that both parents pay for it, if it is determined that the school is in the child’s best interest.

The court MUST make findings under each of the best interest factors in order to make a determination on legal decision-making and parenting time.

Model Parenting Plans 

You can find model parenting plans developed by various counties all over the Internet. These plans are usually offered as examples and for guidance only. In Arizona, the court must make specific findings and create a parenting plan in the best interest of the children based on those findings. With that being said, these model guides provide information as to the developmental needs of children based on their age, the distance between the parties, siblings, and the relationship of the children to each parent. These guidelines can be used as evidence to the court of why your parenting plan might be in the best interest of the children. Alternatively, below is an excellent guide for parents who want to develop their own parenting plan for their children. This is the comprehensive guide offered by the Arizona courts:

http://www.azcourts.gov/portals/31/parentingtime/ppwguidelines.pdf

What is reasonable Parenting Time?

At least one judge has found on the court of appeals case that when a reasonable parenting time is not specified, the model guidelines can provide the parameters for what constitutes reasonable parenting time.

Parenting time and child support

Previously, the court conditioned parenting time on the payment of child support. That is no longer the case. Now, a child is entitled to parenting time with each parent. Parenting time is for the primary benefit of the child and not the parent. With that in mind, it would be inappropriate to condition parenting time upon the payment of child support.

With that being said, the court has required a parent to bear the cost of transportation in order to exercise out-of-state parenting time, and in another case, has required a parent to post a bond prior to removing the child from the state for parenting time.

Supervised Parenting Time

Sometimes the court will order supervised parenting time. In that case, the standard of proof is not whether it is in the best interest of the child that the parenting time be supervised. Instead the court must determine that without supervision the children’s health or emotional development would be significantly impaired or the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health would be seriously in danger.

Supervised parenting time may take place anywhere. Many times the judge will order that a family member or close friends provide supervision.

For instance, it’s not unusual for a judge to order that a parent have supervised parenting time where their parents act as the supervisors, when a child has an established relationship with the grandparents and the court has no reason to doubt that the child will be safe and healthy under the supervision of grandparents.

Alternatively, if the parties cannot agree on an appropriate supervisor or there is no friend or family member willing to supervise parenting time, the court will order that an agency provide supervised parenting time. The court will determine who will bear the cost of the supervision. It may be split between the parties, paid by one party, or paid by the court.

Video or Skype parenting time

In this day and age it is not unusual for a court to order Skype or other video parenting time, especially for young children or when the parents live in different states. This can prove very difficult for the party expected to facilitate the Skype parenting time. It is not unusual for young children to be resistant or rambunctious or rowdy during scheduled Skype parenting time. It can also be difficult to coordinate a time when a parent always must be home and available to coordinate the video parenting time.

Custody to nonparents

The court may order visitation or custody to nonparents, like grandparents or other third parties, in unusual and appropriate circumstances. Third-party visitation is not considered parenting time. Third-party visitation cannot be granted during a divorce or paternity proceeding. To be eligible for third-party custody or visitation, the grandparents or other third party must file a petition to establish third-party rights (either custody or visitation).

The petitioner requesting custody must prove that they have stood “in loco parentis” or in the shoes of the parent and that they have acted as the child’s parent. This relationship does not have to be to the detriment of the actual parents’ relationship to the child, but the petitioner must prove that their relationship with the child was a meaningful parental relationship for substantial period of time.

In addition to proving that the person filing stood in loco parentis, they must also plead facts that indicate it would be significantly detrimental to the child to remain or be placed in the care of either legal parent, that a court has not entered or approved a conflicting order of legal custody within one year, and that one of the following conditions has been met:

  1. One of the legal parents is deceased;
  2. The child’s legal parents were not married to each other when the petition was filed, or;
  3. A proceeding for divorce or legal separation is pending and petition for third party rights is filed.

There is a presumption that legal parents are fit to have custody and to make decisions about who their child sees and when. Grandparent or third-party visitation is not granted immediately or as a matter of pride. In fact, the third party must show clear and convincing evidence that granting custody to the parents is not in the children’s best interest.

For getting third-party visitation the standard is a bit lower. A third party may petition the court for visitation if any of the following conditions have been met:

  1. One of the legal parents is deceased or has been missing for three months or more,
  2. The child was born out of wedlock and the child’s legal parents are not married to each other at the time the petition for visitation is filed,
  3. For grandparent or great-grandparent visitation, the marriage of the parents of the child needs to have been dissolved for at least three months.

When filing a petition for third-party custody, official notice needs to be provided to the children’s legal parents, a person or agency that has physical custody of the child or claims any sort of custodial rights, or any other person or agency that has previously appeared in a court case.

Parents are granted special weight to their opinions when the court decides cases involving third parties. The court is also instructed to consider the historical relationship between the child and the third party seeking visitation, the motivation of the person who is seeking and requesting visitation, and the motivation of the person objecting to the visitation. Additionally, the court is instructed to look at the child’s customary activities and weigh the potential benefits and risks of harm to the child’s customary activities, such as sports or other extracurricular activities.

When one parent dies, the court is particularly concerned with protecting the child’s relationship to his or her deceased parent’s parents—the grandparents. The court wants to preserve that extended family relationship. When these facts are present, it seems easier to get the court to grant third-party visitation.

Once visitation has been established, it is not terminated if a parent chooses to relocate out of the state. That parent is still responsible to ensure that the child gets visitation with his or her grandparents. If the order for visitation is ignored, the parent may be subject to contempt proceedings. With that being said, a parent does not need the permission of the court or the grandparents in order to relocate with the child.

Relocation

Relocation cases can be very tricky. Let’s go back to our example with Jim and Monica. If Monica wants to move to Oregon she must follow the procedures set out in ARS 25 – 408. If Jim and Monica have agreed to joint legal decision-making, and Monica wants to move out of the state, she must give Jim at least 60 days advance written notice that she wants to relocate either outside the state or more than 100 miles away within the state. If she fails to provide this written notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, she may be subject to sanctions by the court and may lose joint legal decision-making.

Once Jim has received notice that Monica wants to move to Oregon, he has 30 days to file a petition with the court to prevent the relocation of the child. If he fails to file this petition then Monica may file a petition to relocate. She will have to prove to the court that their relocation benefits outweigh the adverse impact on her children’s relationship with Jim.

Assuming the court permits the relocation, all of the other orders remain in effect. If there’s a parenting time provision that Jim gets the children for the third week of every month, Monica must deliver the children to Jim for the third week of every month, regardless of whether or not she is currently in Oregon.

Where do we count the miles?

If we are trying to count whether we are within the 100-mile radius required under the relocation statute, a necessary question is: From where do we count the miles? A recent court of appeals decision states that we count the 100 miles starting from where the relocating parent was living at that time the court order was initially entered.

Emergency Relocation

Now let’s say something has happened to Monica. She’s got a new boyfriend, Bob, who is supporting her and the kids. Let’s say Bob becomes violent and he kicks her and the children out of the home. If Monica has either sole legal decision-making or joint legal decision-making but has the children most of the time and is deemed to be their primary residential parent, she may be able to relocate on a temporary basis. The statute allows that apparently sole legal decision-making or joint legal decision-making and primary residence as required by circumstances of health, safety, employment or eviction of that parent or that parent’s spouse to relocate in less than 60 days after the written notice has been given.

Even under the emergency relocation provision, if Jim and Monica have joint legal decision-making and substantially equal parenting time, Monica may only leave before her 45-day time frame if Jim agrees.

The Relocation Hearing

If the parents are unable to agree to the relocation, and the court must make a decision on whether to allow one parent to relocate more than 100 miles away from the other parent or out of state, the parent proposing the relocation has the burden of proving that the relocation is in the best interest of the child. The court is specifically instructed to make appropriate arrangements to ensure continuing meaningful relationship between the child and both parents.

In addition to the best interest factors above, the court also looks that whether the relocation proposal is being made in good faith or whether it is intended to interfere with or frustrate the relationship between the child and the other parent. The court will also examine whether or not the move may affect the amount of child support the moving party stands to gain by diminishing the other parent’s parenting time.

The court also looks at the prospective advantage of the move to improve the general quality of life for the custodial parent or child. Interestingly, the statute also instructs the court to look at the likelihood that the parent moving the child out of state will comply with future parenting time orders, and whether the relocation will allow a realistic opportunity for parents attempt each parent.

Fundamentally, the court will assess the potential effect of the relocation on the child’s stability and the extent to which moving or not moving will affect the emotional, physical or developmental needs of the child.

The relocation statute also includes an interesting provision that has more to do with contempt then it does relocation.

Contempt of Court

ARS section 25-408J states that the court shall assess attorney fees and court costs against either parent if the court finds that the parent has unreasonably denied, restricted or interfered with court-ordered parenting time.

That means it’s not optional. If we are able to prove in a contempt proceeding that a parent has recently denied, restricted or interfered with your parenting time, you will be reimbursed for your attorney fees and court costs associated with securing the contact.

Arizona case law:

Gonzalez v. Gonzalez, 181 Ariz. 32, 887 P.2d 562 (App.1994).

The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children is a fundamental right. A.R.S. § 1-601(A).

Anguis v. Superior Court, ibid. note 1, supra.

But see A.R.S. § 1-601(B) (“This state, any political subdivision of this state or any other governmental entity shall not infringe on these [parent’s] rights without demonstrating that the compelling governmental interest as applied to the child involved is of the highest order, is narrowly tailored and is not otherwise served by a less restrictive means.”).

Sands v. Sands, 157 Ariz. 322, 757 P.2d 126 (App.1988).

In a parental rights termination proceeding the Arizona Department of Economic Security has no obligation to make an effort to reunite the family if such an effort would be futile. In the Matter of Yavapai County Juvenile Action J-9956, 169 Ariz. 178, 818 P.2d 163 (App.1991).

A.R.S. § 25-409 and In re Marriage of Herreras, 159 Ariz. 511, 768 P.2d 673 (App.1989).

When a natural parent does not consent to adoption, the adoption cannot proceed unless the court terminates the parent’s rights pursuant to the parental termination statute. In the Matter of Maricopa County, Juvenile Action No. JA 33794, 171 Ariz. 90, 828 P.2d 1231 (App.1991).

Matter of Appeal in Pima County Juvenile Severance Action No. S-114487, 179 Ariz. 86, 876 P.2d 1121 (1994). See also Kenneth B. v. Tina B., 226 Ariz. 33, 243 P.3d 636, 640-641 (Ct. App. Div. 1 2010) (Judgment denying petition by mother’s brother and sister-in-law, who had been granted physical custody of children in mother and father’s marriage dissolution, to terminate mother’s parental rights on ground that mother had abandoned the children would be vacated in part and remanded, where denial was based primarily on trial court’s finding that mother had not intentionally abandoned children, parent’s subjective intent had been removed from the statutory definition of “abandonment,” trial court considered statutory factor of whether mother maintained minimal contact with the children but did not consider statutory factors of reasonable support and normal supervision, and trial court, under unusual circumstances of case, was also required to look to see whether mother had taken steps to establish and strengthen the emotional bond linking her to her children).

In re Appeal in Maricopa County Juvenile Action No. JD-4974, 163 Ariz. 60, 785 P.2d 1248 (App.1990).

Paternity proceedings may be instituted during pregnancy or after birth of the child. R.A.J. v. L.B.V., 169 Ariz. 92, 817 P.2d 37 (App.1991).

Long v. Long, 39 Ariz. 271, 5 P.2d 1047 (1931); 154 A.L.R. 552 (1945). See also, Hurd v. Hurd, 223 Ariz. 48, 219 P.3d 258, 568 (Ct. App. Div. 1 2009) (trial court’s findings in divorce proceedings did not support grant of mother’s request to relocate with children out of state; although court found mother’s request was “legitimate” and that mother had not received adequate support from father, there were no findings that move would benefit the children, there was no finding regarding likelihood that mother would comply with parenting time orders, and there was no finding as to how move would affect children’s needs).