The top priority during all family law matters should be the ongoing care and custody of children. A local family court must keep the best interests of a child in mind whenever making decisions that could affect them. Giving your child a voice in court could be easier with the help of a Scottsdale child custody lawyer from our legal team.
Ideally, your parenting plan will keep your kids in a healthy environment and promote consistency in their lives. One of our skilled family law attorneys could offer valuable insight and help ensure you achieve an arrangement that meets the needs of your children.
Children’s Rights in Custody Cases
Arizona Revised Statutes §25-403 requires a judge to determine the best interests of the children involved in any custody case. The courts must evaluate many factors when making custody decisions, such as:
- Relationships within the family
- The children’s right to consistency and stability at home, school, and extracurricular activities
- The mental and physical health of all parties
- Any history or indication of household violence
- The wishes of the children
Typical Child Custody Arrangements
There are several types of parenting time schedules that can be granted to either parent. Arizona no longer uses the term “custody” and instead refers to “legal decision making” and “parenting time.” Legal decision making refers to how major decisions will be made for your children and gives you the right to make choices like whether your child should change schools or get counseling. Parenting time refers to whatever time a child is to spend with both parents.
Local judges typically start with a preference for equal parenting time to both the mother and father when practically and logistically possible, or both parents in a same-sex relationship, but that’s not always the final outcome. The court also starts with a preference for joint legal decisions making, where parents make major decision jointly about school, sports, what religion to follow and traveling decisions.
If agreement between the parents isn’t reached, a judge will ultimately choose an arrangement. For example, an arrangement where the kids spend weekdays at one parent’s house and weekends with the other may be the best solution for keeping the children in same school if parents live too far away to share parenting time jointly. However, more often than not, judges want to see both parents involved in both school and weekend parenting.
Factors That Can Influence Parental Rights
While both parents presumably maintain these rights under the law, a judge can dissolve those rights if either parent is unfit to care for their kids. A parent with a history of violence, abuse, or drug addiction could have their legal and physical access restricted or revoked. A custody arrangement lawyer in the Scottsdale area could provide more information about the different types of parenting plans and how they can impact a child’s future.
What is the Significance of a Parent’s Living Environment?
Another situation that the court is going to look at is the living environment of both parents. Even the greatest parent may not be in a position financially to provide a suitable living environment for their children. That’s where issues of spousal maintenance and child support come in, as these can help mitigate that to some extent. If a parent of three lives in one bedroom or studio apartment with a roommate, the courts may be unlikely to allow overnight time – especially in the case of teenagers who need privacy.
A parent’s work schedule is also important. Although, it’s maybe not as important to some judges as it used to be. We often see cases where one parent alleges that other’s work schedule would prevent them from having equal parenting time, or if they did have equal parenting time, they would have to put the children in daycare.
However, more and more often we find that the judges are less concerned with that, as long as the children are in a good environment it doesn’t matter whether they’re with a parent or in daycare. The idea is that many parents work and use childcare when they are together, and a parent should not be deprived of parenting time simply because they work.
What Happens if Either Parent Relocates with their Child?
When you file for divorce, legal separation, or the initial establishment of parenting time and legal decision making, there is something that goes into effect called the preliminary injunction. This prohibits either parent from leaving the state with a child.
If you’re concerned that the other parent is going to leave the state imminently, you should file sooner rather than later. If they’re served with the preliminary injunction and they leave the state without the court’s permission, they can be held in contempt, which makes it a lot easier for the court force them to come back.
Call a Scottsdale Child Custody Attorney for Help Today
The issue of child custody is a sensitive but essential topic in family court. Whenever two parents no longer live together or are divorced and cannot agree on a plan, a court must step in and facilitate their transition into a co-parenting plan that promotes their kids’ best interests.
A Scottsdale child custody lawyer could help you establish that you can provide the best environment for your children. In other situations, they could also argue that an existing child custody order is no longer appropriate for your family. Reach out to our firm today to schedule an appointment with our qualified team of legal experts.