Dealing with the myriad details and decisions of separation and divorce is challenging mentally, emotionally, and financially. When children are part of the picture, as is common, legal decisions must be made in their best interest. These decisions frequently include child custody, especially when one parent experiences a life event such as a new marriage, the decision to move, or even a new job. If you are facing a child custody decision, finding a top child custody attorney in the Phoenix area can greatly increase your chances of a favorable outcome for your children’s health and well-being.
Determining the best approach for you and your child as you navigate separation and divorce proceedings and consequent child custody arrangements is a daunting task to attempt on your own. It involves stressful decision-making and intense future planning. Understanding the basics of the various challenges you will face is essential for your success in Arizona Family Court. While facing the prospect of many potential outcomes is often emotionally draining, a top custody lawyer and legal team can help explain the ins and outs of every scenario, draft essential court documents, handle contact with the other parent and their attorney, and ease the burden so you can focus on what is important for you and your family.
Responsibilities of a Family Law Attorney
Family law is much more complex than many people realize. Not all attorneys in the state of Arizona are trained in its specifics or have years of experience, as well as hundreds of 5-star reviews and testimonials from former clients. Even more significantly, most law firms do not employ multiple award-winning attorneys – but The Valley Law Group is proud to do just that.
The Valley Law Group’s Jonathan Roeder and Cory Keith were both named Rising Star Super Lawyers from an organization that creates a yearly list of attorneys across the country who demonstrate outstanding skills. The list is populated by up-and-coming attorneys who show consistently excellent results and craft unique, client-specific representation that affords them the most favorable outcomes possible in court. Rising Stars are recognized within the state of Arizona as the top legal minds with the knowledge, determination, dedication, and experience to give their clients peace of mind and an advocate they can continually rely on during their child custody case. In fact, fewer than 3% of lawyers in Arizona earn this recognition, so it is a truly impressive feat for The Valley Law Group to offer the services of two such individuals.
Read on to learn more about what one of our custody lawyers in Phoenix or Gilbert will take on if you choose to become a client.
Helping You Understand Arizona’s Legal Framework for Child Custody
Child custody involves navigating and understanding your options when it comes to the various types of custody, both parents’ visitation rights and the laws that apply to future plans such as relocation and other life events. In addition, not all parents realize that the judge will be examining the potential arrangements in great detail to determine whether each possibility is in the best interest of the child or children. A skilled child custody attorney and their legal team will be on hand to advise you regarding these and other factors that the court will take into consideration when it arrives at a custody decision.
Helping You Negotiate With the Child’s Other Parent
Your child’s health, well-being, and happiness are the most important things to you as a parent, and they are of utmost importance to our legal team as well. A top child custody attorney will help you craft a custody plan that will serve your child in all the ways that matter. The attorney will be on call to perform negotiations with the other parent and their legal representation, attend any required mediation sessions, and assist you in drafting a parenting plan to present to the court.
Helping You Establish the Right Kind of Custody Arrangements
A top custody attorney will outline and explain your parental rights to parenting time (physical custody) and legal decision-making (legal custody), as well as how you can ensure your ability to plan and provide everything that will keep your children safe, healthy, and emotionally stable. Your rights not only address where your child lives and how often you will be able to see them but also include details like religious upbringing, education, and extracurriculars all the way to vacation time and school holidays. Your desires and input are crucial in creating the right custody arrangements and ensuring they come to fruition by demonstrating that they meet your child’s best interests.
Helping You in the Courtroom
It is extremely common for custody cases to require extensive litigation, but even if you and your child’s other parent agree regarding the custody terms, the court must issue its final approval. A top custody attorney in Arizona should have the ability to present a solid case to a judge in family court, illuminating why your proposed arrangement is indeed the most beneficial to your child’s wellbeing. A dedicated attorney and their team will spend time gathering all the evidence they deem essential to ensure your argument is rock solid.
You can expect your attorney to perform the following tasks:
- Preparing all necessary legal documents
- Gathering evidence for discovery, which included witness statements, expert reports, and other essential information
- Presenting expert testimony as needed
- Cross-examining the other parent and any other witnesses as needed
Helping You Change and Enforce Child Custody Orders
Even after a child custody ruling becomes official, modifications may be necessary as other life decisions and events occur. If you find you need to make changes to your custody agreement in Arizona, a top child custody attorney can guide you through the process every step of the way. Relocating, remarrying, changing jobs, and other occurrences can be overwhelming enough without attempting to alter your agreement with an ex-spouse on your own.
Moreover, if the other parent is resistant to making any alterations or simply does not comply with the legal agreement, an experienced lawyer can help you utilize the court system to compel them to follow the ruling.
Helping You Navigate Child Support
Child support is typically an integral component of custody arrangements. The most difficult part is calculating the appropriate amount of support your child or children will need. As such, this calculation is performed by the state and takes several factors into consideration, from the unique needs of your children to your and your former spouse’s financial capabilities and more. Typically, the higher wage earner with the least parenting time must pay child support to the child’s primary caregiver, though there are certain situations in which this is not the case. Your attorney can help you estimate the expected child support and either negotiate with your child’s other parent to make alternative arrangements or include the state-mandated child support in your parenting plan.
Our Child Custody Lawyers Explain AZ Child Custody
Child custody cases are often the most contentious family law cases handled by our award-winning family law attorneys. After all, separation and divorce are life-changing events, and your children are a major component of all decisions that must be made. The stress of determining your child’s future along with your own well-being can be overwhelming, but a top child custody attorney from The Valley Law Group can help you ensure all decisions you make account for your children’s future.
Your Child’s Best Interests
In Arizona, you can expect the court to weigh a number of factors while determining your child’s best interests. This may include insights regarding:
- Both parents’ abilities to care for their children financially
- The parents’ abilities to support the children emotionally
- Both parents’ relationships with the child, each other, and other family members
- The child’s current connections to their home, school, and neighborhood
- Physical and mental health of both parents and the child
- Special needs of the child
- The parent’s willingness to cooperate with one another and with the judge’s ruling
- Any physical, psychological, or substance abuse,
- Both parents’ preferences
- The child’s preferences,
- And more.
Our experienced attorneys are skilled at anticipating how the court will make decisions, giving you a greater chance of achieving the outcome you desire for yourself and your family.
Your Rights as a Parent
The US Supreme Court has ruled that parents should have the right to determine the care and custody of their children, and this may only be interfered with if the child’s welfare is at risk. For that reason, natural parents are typically entitled to custody before other family members may be considered or if the parent is deemed unfit by the court.
Our top Arizona custody attorneys would like to stress that there is no legal requirement to favor one parent because of their sex or the child’s sex. Arizona does not recognize maternal preference even when it comes to rearing younger children and infants unless this situation is determined to be the best solution for the child’s well-being. Unmarried parents must establish paternity before official child custody rulings that consider both parents can be drafted.
Your Physical and Legal Custody
Developing an understanding of parenting time and legal decision-making rights is an essential part of understanding child custody in Arizona. A top child custody attorney will work tirelessly with you to help you comprehend the differences between these crucial terms and how they will impact the choices you make regarding child custody.
Understanding Legal Decision-Making
Parents make decisions for their children every day, and the term legal decision-making refers to a parent’s right to make the multitude of non-emergency decisions that guide child-rearing. In other states, this is known as “legal custody.”According to the State of Arizona, the four pillars of legal decision-making are “education, health care, religious training, and personal care decisions.” A.R.S. § 25-401(3).
Depending on your custody agreement, these responsibilities may be shared jointly between both parents or may remain the sole responsibility of one parent only. Even if parents are granted joint legal custody, they may still disagree; in this situation, one parent may be granted responsibility over one of the four pillars noted above. For instance, the mother may be given the responsibility to make final decisions about education, while the father may be tasked with determining the child’s religious affiliation and upbringing. Our top Arizona child custody attorneys can help you determine the best way to arrange decision-making rights to ensure your child’s best interests.
Understanding Parenting Time
Parenting time – referred to as physical custody in other states – generally refers to the amount of time your child is physically in your care, but also includes caring for your child with food, clothing, shelter, and other physical necessities as well as making routine child care decisions like playdates, extracurricular activities, family outings and much more. Parenting time is not automatically equal, even if joint legal decision-making is established.
In fact, just as each family is unique, so is each custody agreement. A top Arizona child custody attorney will help you evaluate all potential scenarios, including 50/50 parenting time, sole parenting time, and every possibility in between. Keep in mind that the child’s other parent must also have access to their child in accordance with the law unless the court determines that there is a substantial risk of danger or harm befalling the child due to a parent’s drug or alcohol abuse, criminal habits, history of child abuse and neglect, domestic violence or mental health problems.
If a parent has any of the above issues, they may still be granted parenting time or visitation but may require supervision by a social worker, family friend, relative, or mental health professional. It may also be necessary to hold parenting time at a location outside the parents’ homes. Restrictions are usually in place with the expectation that they will eventually be lifted partially or completely as the parent establishes their reliability.
A top child custody attorney in Arizona will help you create a parenting plan that not only benefits your child’s best interests but is also amenable for both parents. Often, parents are able to arrive at mutually beneficial parenting plans outside of court, whether in negotiation or mediation. However, every plan must be submitted to the family court judge for approval, and it is not binding or enforceable until it is legally approved.
In circumstances where parents cannot agree, a custody trial becomes necessary. This is undesirable because the outcome is now in the hands of an Arizona Family Court judge. It is best to secure the help of a seasoned family law attorney to help you reach mutually beneficial terms before proceeding to court or during litigation in court.
Our top custody attorneys in Arizona can help you create a parenting plan that adheres to the following legal requirements:
- Designate if one parent will have sole legal decision-making responsibilities or if both parents will have joint authority
- Outline each parent’s rights and responsibilities regarding the child’s personal care, healthcare, education, and religious upbringing
- Create a schedule for parenting time which includes regular recurring events as well as school holidays and vacations
- Develop a procedure for exchanges of the child or children, which includes locations and people providing transport
- Outline a procedure for resolving changes that arise, including potential disputes or possible alleged breaches, which may include mediation, private counseling, or court conciliation
- Designate a procedure for parental communication regarding the child
- Conclude with a statement ensuring each party has read, understands, and will comply with Arizona state law regarding convicted or registered sex offenders or dangerous crimes against children
Let Our Top Custody Attorneys in AZ Help You
If you have children and are in the midst of navigating complex child custody arrangements, we understand that your children are your first priority. The fact that the well-being of your children rests in your hands is a burden you should not bear alone. A top child custody attorney in Arizona will dedicate their time and energy to ensuring you fully understand the legal issues that arise when making child custody arrangements with your child’s other parent. At The Valley Law Group, our award-winning attorneys can help you craft air-tight litigation strategies or reach an amicable agreement that ensures your children receive everything they need to support their growth, education, and social-emotional needs.
Whether you are just beginning to research the process in Arizona, find yourself embroiled in a dispute with the other parent, or need to modify an existing child custody agreement, our seasoned attorneys and legal experts will work with you every step of the way. Our compassionate, diligent attorneys are well-versed in negotiation and the intricacies of family law and have earned recognition as some of the top child custody lawyers in Phoenix, Gilbert and the surrounding area.
Contact The Valley Law Group today to request a free consultation about your child custody case.
Jonathan Roeder, Founder/Director of Marketing of The Valley Law Group, is an Arizona native who has dedicated his life and career to the service of others. After graduating salutatorian of his high school class, Jonathan attended beautiful and prestigious Pepperdine University, where he majored in Political Science. During his tenure at Pepperdine University, his passion for helping others grew after securing a clinical position with a residential treatment center for juveniles with substance addictions. Post-graduation, Jonathan returned to Arizona and served as a residential manager for mentally and physically disabled homes.