You have questions about child custody, we have answers.
Not every child custody case requires an attorney. If the parents generally agree, but just have a few questions about the law or the process, we believe that information should be freely available without the hassle of talking to an attorney. Below we try to answer the most common questions about parenting time and legal decision-making (together "child custody" in Arizona). We also include some information about family court, the process, and some of the most important statutes. If you can't find your answer or need additional information, schedule a complimentary consultation with our Arizona child custody attorneys.
1. The past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.
2. 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.
3. The child’s adjustment to home, school and community.
4. If the child is of suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child as to legal decision-making and parenting time.
5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with the other parent. This paragraph 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.
7. 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 a parenting time preference to that parent.
8. Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse pursuant to section 25-403.03.
9. The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding legal decision-making or parenting time.
10. Whether a parent has complied with chapter 3, article 5 of this title.
11. Whether either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect under section 13-2907.02.
The child support calculator credits both parents with the time spent with the children. So, the more time a parent spends with the children, the lower that parent’s child support obligation will be.
Pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-411, a parent generally must wait at least one year from the previous child custody order before modifying parenting time. Then, depending on the exact nature of the desired modification, other requirements may need to be met.
Contact our child custody attorneys for a free consultation to discuss whether your circumstances warrant modification.
Supervised parenting time can occur with a designated third party, sometimes a trusted family member or mutual acquaintance, or it may be ordered to be professionally supervised by a court appointed supervisor or facility.
This gives the judge considerable discretion to determine the parenting schedule in each Arizona child custody case.
Under this schedule, one parent would have parenting time every week on Mondays and Tuesdays, the other parent would have parenting time every week on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and the parents would alternate weekends.
It is called a 5-2-2-5 because the first week one parent will have five days of parenting time while the other has two. The next week the first parent will have two days while the other parent has five.
For example, in even years Parent A may receive Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day while Parent B receives Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.
In odd years, the parents may flip schedules, where Parent A receives Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, while Parent B receives Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.
Emergency orders, usually filed without notice to the other party, are also available pursuant to Rule 48. Emergency temporary orders are available when a parent can show that irreparable harm (physical, emotional, mental, or moral) will occur if the family court does not enter emergency orders.
There is no bright line age for when a child is suitably mature, but for most judges that age starts around ten years old.
Paternity can be established through family court or by executing an acknowledgment of paternity, pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-812.
If your case is contested, however, it will benefit you and your children to hire a professional who can protect your rights.
Not all child custody lawyers are unaffordable. Our firm offers convenient flat fees to protect our child custody clients against the uncontrollable billable hour and minimize client costs.
It is very important to note that a parent’s obligation to provide child support does not terminate even if the parent’s rights are terminated, unless the child is subsequently adopted by a third party.
We emphasize the underlined portion because a family court cannot prevent a parent from relocating. However, it can prevent the relocation of children subject to child custody orders or agreements.
If the non-moving parent opposes the relocation, the moving parent will need to petition the family court for an order to allow the children to relocate. These cases are extremely contentious and should be handled with special attention. Our experienced child custody attorneys have litigated for and against numerous custodial relocations. Contact us for a complimentary consultation to build the strongest case possible.
A long distance plan for a child who attends school may give the non-custodial parent several weeks of parenting time during the summer and portions of extended academic breaks, such as winter break or spring break.
Primary caretaker does not necessarily reflect the parenting time or legal decision-making arrangement and does not confer superior parental rights to either parent.
Enforcement actions can seek make up time and other sanctions, pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-414. Interference of parenting time may also be grounds for future modification.
Examples of major legal decisions include educational, religious, and non-emergency medical decisions.
Contact our Arizona child custody attorneys for a complimentary consultation to discuss modification of legal decision-making or any other family law issue in greater detail.
When the parents cannot agree, the order may direct the parties to attend mediation. If they still cannot reach an agreement, they may have to ask the family court to decide the issue.
Family law judges are increasingly reluctant to make coparenting decisions like this for the parents, so the parents may need to petition the court for modification of legal decision-making if they cannot agree.
Arizona Family Court
A simple establishment or modification may only take 4-6 months, while a vigorously contested custody case may take much longer.
For example, the filing fee to establish paternity, legal decision-making, parenting time, and child support is currently $268.00.
The filing fee to modify an existing order is less expensive, currently $84.00.
Beyond the filing fee, the family court may order the parents to attend a parenting conference or appoint other professionals to aid the judge in child custody cases. A parenting conference costs each party $300.00, though payment plans are available. Other services, like a best interests attorney or a court appointed advisor may be cost the parents even more.
In larger areas where there are multiple courthouses, like Maricopa County, the specific court is determined by the address (zip code) of the filing party or the filing party’s attorney, if represented.
When fathers are disappointed with the results of their family law cases, it is usually because they were poorly represented or because their facts were truly worse than they believed.
Our child custody attorneys have a tremendous record of success representing fathers in child custody cases. View our case results or contact us for a complimentary child custody consultation.View Results
Child interviews may be conducted by conciliation services, a division of the family court, or by an appointed professional such as a parenting conference provider or a court appointed advisor.
It is important to remember that children’s wishes are not outcome determinative, but they may be an additional factor the family court may consider when deciding legal decision-making and/or parenting time, pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-403.
Parents may also request emergency orders, pursuant to Rule 48, if irreparable harm (physical, mental, emotional, or moral) to the child would occur if the family court did not issue emergency temporary orders.
Our top rated child custody attorneys do everything we can to ensure that hiring an attorney is not cost-prohibitive. We offer affordable flat fees to all of our family law clients. Contact our attorneys for a complimentary consultation.
Awards of attorney’s fees usually occur when there is a significant disparity between the parties’ financial resources or when one party acts unreasonably during litigation, pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-324 and/or A.R.S. § 25-403.08.
The family court may also order sanctions, including attorney’s fees, for other types of misconduct during family law litigation.
The parents jointly meet with a third party neutral, appointed by the family court, for about three hours to discuss the contested issues and the parties positions. Ordinarily, the parenting conference provider will go through each of the factors in A.R.S. § 25-403 and prepare a formal report for the family law judge. The parenting conference provider will probably encourage the parties to settle and, if settlement cannot be reached, may make recommendations regarding legal decision-making and/or parenting time.
The judge does not have to accept the parenting conference report’s recommendations, but some evidentiary weight may be given.
The parenting coordinator may serve as a type of communications ‘referee’ while acting as an intermediary between the parents. The parenting coordinator can make recommendations that the family court can discretionarily adopt as orders.
The best interests attorney participates in the litigation just like the parents attorneys would, including examining witnesses and introducing evidence at trial, if one is required.
Pursuant to Rule 76, the litigants are ordinarily required to file Proposed Resolution Statements detailing the issues in the case and desired resolutions.
Absent an agreement between the parties, the family court will not make any orders, including temporary orders, at a resolution management conference.
An AFI presents the party’s comprehensive financial picture by listing all income and monthly expenses the party incurs. Parties generally must attach tax returns and paystubs as part of the AFI.
1. A copy of any past or current protective order and underlying petition involving a party or member of the party’s household.
2. The name and address of each treatment provider and period of treatment involving any party for psychiatric or psychological issues, anger management, substance abuse or domestic violence, for the period beginning five years prior to the filing of the petition.
3. The date, description, location and documentation of any criminal charge against or conviction of any party or member of the party’s household occurring within ten years of the filing of the petition.
4. The date, description, location and documentation of any Department of Child Safety investigation or proceeding involving any party or member of the party’s household occurring within ten years of the filing of the petition.
If the case also involves child support, the parties must also disclose:
1. a fully completed affidavit substantially similar to Form 2, Affidavit of Financial Information;
2. proof of income of the party from all sources, specifically including complete tax returns, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and K-1 forms, for the past two (2) completed calendar years, and year-to-date income information for the current calendar year, including, but not limited to, year-to-date pay stub, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, recurring gifts, prizes, and spousal maintenance;
3. proof of court-ordered child support and spousal maintenance actually paid by the party in any case other than the one in which disclosure is being provided;
4. proof of all medical, dental, and vision insurance premiums paid by the party for any child listed or referenced in the petition;
5. proof of any child care expenses paid by the party for any child listed or referenced in the petition;
6. proof of any expenses paid by the party for private or special schools or other particular education needs of a child listed or referenced in the petition; and
7. proof of any expenses paid by the party for the special needs of a gifted or handicapped child listed or referenced in the petition.