When getting a divorce, many issues could be contested and that could serve as sources of conflict. One of the most heart-wrenching is when children are involved. Parents often argue over the custody of their children.
It’s important to understand the terminology used in Arizona, as it differs from some other locations. Parenting time is what a lot of people in other states refer to as custody. It is the physical time that a parent gets to spend with a child. There is a schedule, and parents will split the parenting time between them. The amount of parenting time each one receives varies, but the courts will often try to make it as equal as they can. Of course, this is not always possible.
Legal decision-making, on the other hand, refers to the legal responsibility and right to make non-emergency legal decisions for the children. This includes their healthcare, religious training, education, personal care, etc. Again, the courts want to ensure that the best interests of the children are met. Sometimes, this means both parents have equal decision-making. That’s not always the case, though, as with parenting time.
The courts will consider a range of factors when it comes to how the parenting time and legal decision-making will be split. One of the most disturbing factors that may be involved is when one of the parents has been convicted of a sexual offense or a parent has been accused of molesting or having inappropriate contact with a child. Although you may believe—or hope to believe—that these types of cases are rare and isolated, they occur far too frequently.
In those cases, what happens with parenting rights? The judges and courts don’t take these accusations lightly. They feel that it’s better to act first to protect the children and then to get to the bottom of those accusations later. Sexual abuse causes long-term effects on children, not just short-term effects. This can sometimes lead to the wrong decisions being made, but there is recourse in cases where it happens.
Additionally, if one parent wants to try to hurt the other parent by making false accusations, the court will find out. The parent that falsely accuses another of these types of actions can face serious legal consequences.
Making the Right Decisions
The courts want to protect the children, and they want to make sure that they don’t make a mistake in their judgment. To help ensure this, they will often appoint mental health professionals and psychologists who specialize in the field. They may also engage the services of a medical doctor or other professionals in the field.
They will perform evaluations on the parents involved and/or the children to get more information about certain events and incidents. They want to determine just how dangerous or potentially dangerous the parent could be. The last thing the court wants to do is put the children in harm’s way.
Additionally, if a parent is a registered sex offender, the court cannot provide any legal decision-making rights to them unless they are determined not to be a risk to the child. The parent is not allowed to have parenting time with the children unless it is supervised. The laws in this area are evolving and getting stronger for the protection of children, as they should be.
The Use of Psychosexual Evaluations
Sometimes, parents or a judge might request that a psychosexual evaluation be done on the other parent. This is often only requested while in a custody dispute when one party has been accused of sexually inappropriate conduct on a minor child or another person.
These evaluations are used to help let the court know whether a parent is at risk of engaging in this type of terrible sexual misconduct in the future. The court will take the information from the psychosexual evaluation and then determine what will be happening with the parenting plan. Sometimes, this means that there will be supervised visitations. Other times, it could mean that one parent will not have any visitation rights to their children, as well.
The evaluations are thorough, and they can be intense. The testing and questioning can last for a period of several days. They are meant to probe into the mind of the parent to get a better understanding of their mental health and whether they will be a risk. They can include a range of different types of tests, and in some cases could even include penile monitoring.
Once the tests are performed, a professional will create a report that lays out the parent’s risk of further immoral and illegal behavior.
Keep in mind that before these types of tests are performed, there needs to be a good reason to have them administered. It can’t simply be because there’s a hunch or belief that a parent might be a risk. There needs to be some sort of evidence that backs up the need for the psychosexual evaluation before it will be given.
Get Help for Complex Custody Situations
You want to make sure that your children are safe from those that would cause them harm. This includes their other parent. Just because someone is a parent doesn’t automatically make them a good person. If they perform deviant acts and are sexual predators, it doesn’t mean that they will stop when it comes to their children. Kids need to be protected from these types of people, and this means that those parents may no longer have the right to see their children, at least not without supervision.
If you are going through a complex custody situation of any sort, including if there is an issue of sexual abuse, it’s a good idea to have an attorney working with you. They can let you know the actions that you can take and will give you a better idea of what you can expect from the court. Take the time to get in touch with a reputable attorney today.