Phoenix Child Custody
Phoenix Child Custody Assistance
In the past, the term “child custody” was used to explain the parenting time and legal decision-making arrangement between two parents. Typically, one parent was granted primary custody and the other granted visitation. In some cases, parents shared custody, which included both physical time with the children and the capacity for legal decision-making in their best interests.
In order to better define the process and make sure that custody cases are handled with the best interests of the children in mind, Arizona adopted new laws in 2012 that now award legal decision-making and parenting time separately. It was designed to increase the likelihood that both parents would get fair time with the children, with an emphasis on awarding these two elements based on what is in the best interests of the child or children.
What the Law Says
In addition to these other changes, Arizona has also mandated that courts don’t give preference to a parent based on their gender. Judges are directed not to choose a parenting plan based on the gender of the parent, nor are they to rule on custody matters based on gender alone.
Arizona allows both parents to submit a proposed plan for custody. Then, the court will consider several factors in determining how to award parenting time and legal decision-making. Under the law, courts are supposed to award joint authority when it’s in the child’s best interests and maximize each parent’s time with the child. This is, of course, provided that there aren’t extenuating factors that might influence the decision.
For example, if a parent is abusive or willfully neglectful, it’s unlikely that they will be awarded either of these elements in regard to their children. Conversely, if there are parents who can agree to a parenting plan, the courts don’t necessarily need to intervene or require them to mediate the issue.
What Determines Phoenix Child Custody?
In Phoenix, child custody matters are based on several factors. Since the term “custody” is now split into two areas, the judges may determine each element separately. The factors that can influence this include:
- The past, present, and potential future relationship between parent and child
- The relationship between the child and parents, siblings, and others involved
- The child’s wishes (if they are of a sufficient age and maturity level)
- The adjustment to school, home, and community
- The mental and physical health of all parties
- Whether one parent is more likely to encourage visits and a positive relationship with the other parent
- Whether a parent delayed the case or misled the courts in an attempt to win custody
- If domestic violence is involved in any capacity
- Whether parents signed the agreement for parenting time and decision-making willingly
- If one parent has been convicted of filing a false report claiming child abuse by the other parent
Because the courts are working in the best interests of the children, parents who have been charged with domestic abuse or who have a history of domestic issues will usually not get as much consideration for custody or legal decision-making. Furthermore, if a parent has been convicted of a drug offense or abused drugs or alcohol within the 12 months prior to the divorce or custody hearing, they will not be awarded sole authority for legal decision making.
What Happens When Parents Aren’t Married?
When parents aren’t married, the court still uses the same factors to determine who gets parenting time and legal decision-making authority, as well as how it is divided. Unmarried fathers do need to prove that they are the biological parent, but they can do this in several ways. A birth certificate that’s signed by both parents, for example, would be acceptable. Fathers can also take a DNA test to determine biological relationships.
The courts presume paternity in cases where the father and mother were married at anytime in the 10 months before the birth of their child. If the parents are still getting along, they can also agree to sign a notarized statement that claims the unmarried father is indeed the biological parent.
What About Emergency or Temporary Custody?
Some Phoenix child custody filings are temporary orders designed to address issues like who will make decisions and how they will be made, as well as where the children will live during the divorce case. A temporary order is designed to be executed with as little disruption to the daily life of the children as possible.
It can take a couple of months to get these orders approved.
Emergency custody requests can be granted within 24 hours when the court presumes that the children may be in danger to some degree. In order to get an emergency custody order, the parent needs to prove that there are mental health problems, child abuse, or drug abuse.
Hire an Attorney to Help with Your Phoenix Child Custody Case
As you can see, the laws surrounding child custody, now known as legal decision-making and parenting time, can get quite complex. Fortunately, when you have a dedicated Phoenix child custody lawyer on your side, you will be able to get through the process with ease and peace of mind. Lawyers know the law and they know how to handle cases so that things work out in the best interests of the children and everyone involved.
For example, if one parent wants to move out of state, they have to file a petition with the courts and the other parent can file an objection if they don’t agree. Then, the matter needs to go through the courts—it’s a long process that can be stressful and arduous for those involved. Courts attempt to work in the best interests of the child at all times, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Contact the Modern Law team to discuss your Phoenix child custody issues. Our experienced attorneys know the laws in Arizona and Maricopa County and will be able to ensure that you get a fair outcome and that parenting time and legal decision-making are determined based on the best interests of your child(ren).