Child Custody Attorney in Arizona
Child custody is one of the most important points of any divorce or legal separation agreement. Ideally, parents prioritize their children’s needs and cooperate in creating a custody plan that is in their best interest. Unfortunately, oftentimes the reality is that your spouse is unwilling to cooperate, may be unfit to be involved in raising your children, or may have different views on how to resolve custody disputes. Arizona child custody laws can be highly complex and confusing. An attorney can play an important role in helping a parent understand his or her custody rights in regards to a divorce or legal separation. It is important that you have an Mesa family law attorney on your side to protect your rights and represent your interests.
Types of Child Custody
In Arizona’s family court, parents who are going through a divorce or legal separation must decide on child custody. Child custody refers to the rights and responsibilities of a child’s parents and who will care for the child. There are two types of child custody: legal and physical custody. Legal custody of a child means that a parent can make important decisions on that child’s behalf such as medical or schooling decisions. Physical custody determines who the child will live with.
Custody may be awarded to both parents jointly, or if one parent is deemed unfit in some way only one parent will be awarded custody. Ultimately, a judge decides the specifics of custody and visitation rights according to the best interests of the children. In making decisions about child custody, the court will look to do what is in the best interests of the child. As such, the court may look to such factors as the parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs and provide a safe environment, the physical and mental health of the parents, the income of each parent and, in some cases, the child’s preference
The Preliminary Injunction
When a new Arizona divorce case is filed, the Clerk of the Court issues a preliminary injunction that prohibits both parties from taking certain actions while the divorce is still pending. An injunction is a court order. This means that if either party does anything forbidden by the Preliminary Injunction, he or she is violating a court order. As it pertains to child custody, the preliminary injunction includes specific orders applicable to both parties and includes the following:
- You may not harass or bother your spouse or children, AND
- You may not physically abuse or threaten your spouse or the children, AND
- You may not take the minor children, common to your marriage, of the State of Arizona for many reasons, without a written agreement between you and your spouse or a Court Order, before you take the minor out of the State.
- You may not remove, or cause to be removed, the other party or the minor children of the parties from any existing insurance coverage, including medical, hospital, dental, automobile and disability insurance. Both parties shall maintain all insurance coverage in full force and effect.
Arizona family law court judges take the preliminary injunction very seriously and parents are strongly cautioned to do the same. A violation of any of the restrictions itemized in the Preliminary Injunction can be expensive and can result in significant sanctions from the family law judge. If either spouse violates the Preliminary Injunction, he or she may be found in contempt of a court order.
If you find yourself involved in an Arizona divorce, seek the help of an experienced Arizona family law attorney before making decisions regarding community assets or taking actions involving minor children.
A challenge some parents face is when one parent wants to relocate far from the other parent or even out of Arizona altogether. Even when there are very good reasons for the proposed move, problems can arise when one parent wants to move far from the other parent. The non-moving parent is likely to have his or her parenting time with the children reduced or significantly limited. A drastic reduction in parenting time can be difficult and traumatic for both the non-moving parent and the children.
A parent who wishes to relocate his or her children more than 100 miles from the other parent must follow the procedure found in A.R.S. §25-408, Arizona’s relocation statute. Under this relocation statute, if both parents are entitled to joint legal decision making or unsupervised parenting time and both parents reside in the State of Arizona, then, the parent who wishes to relocate must provide the non-moving parent forty-five (45) days written notice before that parent will be allowed to: 1) relocate the child outside of the state or 2) relocate the child more than 100 miles within the state. Then the non-moving parent will have an opportunity to petition the court to prevent the relocation.
If the non-moving parent does file a petition to prevent the relocation within the time allowed under the statute, the Arizona family law judge will set an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the relocation will be in the children’s best interest. The parent who is seeking to move has the responsibility to provide evidence to the family court judge that the relocation is in the child’s best interest. This evidence may include such factors as the age of the child, which parent the child/children have primarily lived with, where the children will be most comfortable living and even the child’s desires.
A decision to move out of Arizona or more than 100 miles from another parent should not be taken lightly. Because of the complicated issues involving relocation, consulting with an experienced Arizona family law attorney is very important.
Child Custody Mediation
Divorce and parenting do not come with a set of instructions. Seeking help from a professional custody mediator can help you deal with the unexpected issues that arise from a divorce, ease the emotional heaviness you may be experiencing, and give compassionate advice to help you work towards more peaceful solutions. Child custody mediation provides parents an opportunity to resolve disagreements, decide on a parenting plan that prioritizes their children, negotiate child support and specify visitation rights.
Child custody mediation is always a great option for parents or divorcing couples to have because a third-party professional can give advice and guidance as to what decisions are typically best for the children. Additionally, using the services of a professional mediator to resolve disputes will almost always be less costly than litigating those same issues in court. Non-partial mediators can offer their assistance to seek the best possible outcomes based on the needs and rights of everyone involved, instead of leaving those decisions up to a judge. Judges typically have very little empathy. Instead, parents work with professional custody mediators who help parents establish a healthy dialogue between one another to agree upon what best serves the interests of their children.
You may feel that inviting someone else into your family issues could seem invasive and uncomfortable. However, Jensen Family Law can help. Our legal team is highly experienced and confidential, and we stand by your side during your Arizona custody mediation. We can offer neutral, practical, and beneficial legal guidance that is specific to your custody situation. Contact us for a consultation today with a divorce attorney.
Jensen Family Law – Mesa
3740 E Southern Ave #210, Mesa, AZ 85206