Maricopa County Child Custody Attorneys
Whether you are just now splitting from your child’s other parent, or custody issues have been a part of your lives for years, you always have a choice when it comes to family law matters- represent yourself or hire an attorney. Each comes with benefits and disadvantages, although the list of benefits for self-representation may be shorter than for hiring a skilled family law attorney. Every family’s custody situation is unique and therefore should be treated with special care. If you’re in Maricopa County, our firm offers dependable representation with fair pricing for custody issues and more. Have your situation assessed to see which course of action will be best for you and your children. Schedule your initial consultation today for free by calling 480-680-9126 or clicking here.
Types of Custody Matters
Not every custody issue is two parents battling it out in court over sole custody of the children. Every type of custody issue requires careful examination and a legal plan based on the specific factors that are present. Ideally, custody matters can be worked out through patient and skillful negotiation. If you need additional assistance with your family law matter, click here or call 480-680-9126 for your free consultation.
Establishment of Custody
When parents are together or split amicably, the court might not need to be involved in their custody plan. Many parents get by just fine with an informal custody agreement, or some type of arrangement that isn’t on paper. Other parents agree on how custody should be sorted out when they first split up for example, they may be in agreement that the child will switch off weeks with each parent to keep the relationships equal. Here, divorcing parents can use a consent decree to make the agreed-upon parenting plan official with the court.
When child custody is first established, both physical and legal custody need to be determined. Physical and legal custody doesn’t need to be the same- for example, one parent could have some physical custody while the other parent has all of the legal custody.
Just because a parenting plan has been ordered by the court doesn’t mean that it’s set in stone. Arizona family law allows for the post-decree modification of both physical and legal custody. However, in Arizona, a parent must wait at least 12 months from the previous orders before requesting that the court modify physical or legal custody. There is an exception for emergency custody hearings if the child is in danger. These hearings can be held at any time. Otherwise, the parent must be able to show that there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances to warrant a custody modification.
Establishment of Paternity
When parents are unmarried, it may later become necessary to establish paternity for child custody and child support purposes. The parents can sign an affidavit to establish paternity, but DNA testing may be necessary if one or both parents aren’t in cooperation. Establishing paternity can guarantee a father his parental rights, while also creating a foundation for child support obligations.
Arizona’s Child Custody Factors
A.R.S. § 25-403 lists 11 factors that Arizona family law judges should use when deciding upon a custody matter. These factors affect both physical custody and legal custody. The factors listed in this statute include:
- The past, present, and potential future relationship between the parent and the child
- 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
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
- If the child is of suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child as to legal decision-making and parenting time
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
- Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact with the other parent? This 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
- 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 parenting time preference to that parent
- Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse
- The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding legal decision-making or parenting time
Child Custody FAQ’s
What is Physical Custody?
In Arizona, physical custody is also called parenting time. It is the time physically spent with the child.
What is Legal Custody?
Legal custody is also known as legal decision-making in Arizona. This is a parent’s right and authority to make important decisions for their child, like where they go to school or which doctor they see for medical treatments. One parent can maintain legal custody of a child while the child is in the physical custody of another parent or guardian.
Will the Court Split Custody Between the Parents?
The courts have a preference to give the parents split custody, which is also known as joint custody. The courts will deviate from 50/50 custody if it is in the child’s best interest.
Do I Need to Pay Child Support If I Lose Custody of My Child?
Losing custody of your child doesn’t eliminate your responsibility to financially provide for your child. Your child support obligation may need to be increased if your parenting time is reduced. Abandoning your parental rights is a separate process from establishing or modifying custody.
Does Child Custody Affect Child Support?
Child support is calculated using the parents’ financial resources and parenting time as the two primary factors. When one parent has more of the parenting time, it is more likely that the other parent will be ordered by the court to pay child support. However, child support orders won’t automatically change to reflect a change in custody. Either parent can file to modify child support after there has been a change in physical custody, or any other change affecting the parents’ child support obligations.
Do I Need to Pay for my Consultation with a Family Law Attorney?
Many family law firms in Arizona will charge you for your initial consultation, which makes affording quality representation even more difficult for families on a budget. If you’re looking for a free initial consultation with experienced family law lawyers, call our firm at 480-680-9126 or click here.
Consider Our Maricopa County Custody Lawyers for Your Family Law Matter
Custody orders determine parenting time and legal decision-making for your child, and the process of overturning orders is lengthy and expensive. The best solution to this issue is to make sure your first custody orders are as ideal as your circumstances permit. Our dedicated Arizona family lawyers will help you formulate a plan to achieve a custody resolution that serves your family’s needs. Hire our firm so you can rest assured knowing that your case is in good hands. At AZ Family Law Lawyers, your initial consultation with one of our experienced custody lawyers is entirely free of charge. The sooner you call, the sooner you can get your legal matter resolved- we usually have same-day consultations available. Get scheduled by contacting us through our online form or calling 480-680-9126.
20325 N 51st Avenue Suite #134, Building 5
Glendale, AZ 85308
Office: (602) 509-0955
2 East Congress St., Suite #900-6A
Tucson, AZ 85701
Office: (520) 441-1450
12725 W. Indian School Rd., Ste E, #101
Avondale, AZ 85392
Office: (623) 399-4222
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