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Legal decision making for a child (commonly known as child custody) is often the most heated part of a divorce. Litigation surrounding child custody can happen at any time, and can flare up when one parent decides to move, get remarried, or even when a child goes to a new school. In order to protect the child’s best interests and safeguard your parental rights, we staunchly advocate for our clients, utilizing years of experience to determine the best approach for you and your child.
Mediation is available in cases involving issues pertaining to child custody or parenting time. In some instances, you may be able to settle a disagreement before trial. Your local court should be able to tell you where you can seek mediation services, as well as if and when the court offers it.
Legal custody and physical custody are two very different forms of parental responsibility. Legal custody is the right to make important decisions pertaining to a child’s upbringing, such as religious affiliation, education, healthcare, and so on. Physical custody refers to the actual living arrangements of the child; whichever parent has physical custody of the child will have rights and responsibilities necessary to manage every aspect of the child’s day-to-day care.
When awarding legal custody of a child, the court considers the best interests of that child. Fathers and mothers have equal opportunity for custody, although more women than men are awarded primary custody. Even so, fewer fathers are discriminated against on the basis of their gender in regard to their presumed lack of nurturing skills. The assumption that female caregivers are more competent than male caregivers is gradually fading away.
Many fathers work outside the home today. In reality, many families have only one parent working outside the home. It is becoming more common for both parents to work, however, and this often leads to a situation in which both parents are away in the same way. It is not unusual for spouses to share responsibility for raising children, especially when both are employed outside the home. This means that contemporary fathers are much more knowledgeable about child care and have real-life practical experience.
Yes, if sole legal custody is appropriate. In Arizona, there is no legal presumption favoring one parent over the other. Meaning that the Court starts with the presumption that parents should have joint custody. With joint custody, both parents share the responsibility of major decision-making, as well as physical custody and control of the child.
If you do not believe joint custody would be the best option, you can request sole custody. If there are concerns about addiction or mental health issues with the other parent, it is probably best to request sole custody. The Court will then consider what is in the best interest of the child and make a custody decision accordingly.
You must seek permission from the court and give notice to the other parent if you plan on relocating more than 100 miles from your child’s current location. If you are the custodial parent, you are under a custody order and you cannot simply decide to move away with the child without court permission. If the noncustodial parent is not given 60 days advance notice, then he or she will also be deprived of access to the child during that time period as well.
No, a child does not have the right to participate in custody proceedings. However, judges may consider a child’s wishes at any point during the process. Specifically, it is up to the judge to decide whether or not to interview a child directly or go through one or both of the parents about what their child’s wishes are. In most cases, a mental health professional will be interviewed to help determine what is in the best interests of the child.
According to Rule 68 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, a custody evaluation may be ordered by the judge assigned to your case if you and the other party are unable to reach an agreement on custody. If a custody evaluation is ordered in your case, the court’s conciliation services will arrange for a professional child custody evaluator to assess what is in your child’s best interests.
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