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Your Game Plan For Sole Custody

Winning Sole Custody: The Game Plan To Succeed

Getting sole custody may seem like a daunting task, but it’s definitely possible. In general, Arizona has a preference for equal parenting time and joint legal decision making. But don’t worry, I’ll walk you through the differences between legal decision making and parenting time, and give you valuable advice on how to approach each of them.

Understanding Legal Decision Making

Let’s start with legal decision making. If you want to have the final say in important decisions regarding your child’s upbringing, then you’re aiming for sole legal decision making. Now, if there are issues of domestic violence or substance abuse involved, there’s a presumption against joint legal decision making. In such cases, you’re more likely to be granted the final decision-making authority. But remember, even with the presumption, the judge can still order joint legal decision making. So, it’s important to present your case effectively.

Crafting Your Argument

When presenting your case, it’s crucial to go beyond simply highlighting issues like alcohol problems or past violence. Instead, focus on the other reasons why the other parent may not be suitable for legal decision making. Explore the factors outlined in statute 25.403, which detail the best interests of the children. These factors will guide the judge’s decision on custody matters. For instance, you can discuss the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community, their relationship with each parent, and their wishes if they are of suitable age and maturity. Additionally, emphasize the importance of both parents encouraging frequent and meaningful contact, as well as their ability to work together in decision making.

Highlighting the Best Interests of the Children

If you’re seeking sole legal decision making, it might be because you want your child to receive specific medical or mental health treatments, or attend a particular school. These decisions fall under legal decision making, and if there’s a deadlock between parents, someone has to make the final decision. In court, you need to explain why the changes you propose are in the best interests of the children. Present all the efforts you’ve made to reach an agreement and objectively demonstrate to the judge why your preferred choices are essential for your child’s well-being. Remember, it’s important to align your argument with mainstream views rather than going against the grain, as that approach tends to be less effective in family court.

Understanding Parenting Time

If you want your child to primarily reside with you, several factors come into play. If both parents don’t live close enough to have equal parenting time, the court will designate a primary parent. To establish this, analyze factors such as the child’s location, their relationship with each parent, and their ties to the community and school. Creating a chart that outlines these factors, along with any relocation considerations, can be highly effective. However, if you and the other parent live in the same town and equal parenting time is feasible, you’ll need compelling reasons to justify why it’s not in the child’s best interests. Remember, the default assumption is that both parents should be involved in the child’s life as much as possible.

Making a Strong Case

When seeking sole custody or challenging the other parent’s suitability, you need to prove that the child would be better off without a relationship with the other parent. This involves demonstrating that the other parent is neglectful, abusive, or creates an unsuitable environment for the child. Child Protective Services (CPS) guidelines can provide insights into what is considered detrimental to a child’s well-being. Keep in mind that your goal is to present a convincing argument, so gather any evidence that supports your case, such as documented incidents or witness testimonies.

Follow The Statutes To Win

Winning sole custody requires a deep understanding of legal decision making and parenting time. By aligning your arguments with the best interests of the child factors outlined in the statute, emphasizing the importance of encouraging contact with the other parent, and presenting a strong case based on the child’s well-being, you can greatly improve your chances of success. Remember, each case is unique, so consult with an experienced family law attorney for personalized advice.

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