Child custody and visitation is probably the most contentious area of family law and a Phoenix family attorney is crucial to help you protect your rights as a parent. It is an unfortunate fact that divorce occurs all too often and we have all heard horror stories of parents fighting over children during and after a divorce. It is your responsibility to protect your rights and your children’s interests by hiring the best attorney to present your case.
Custody and visitation rights can be decided by the courts or by the parents if they are able to negotiate an amicable and mutual agreement that is in the best interest of the children.
There are two primary forms of custody
- Physical custody – this type of custody determines where and with whom the child will live
- Legal custody – this form of custody determines who has legal decision making authority on behalf of the child. For example, the parent with legal custody is able to determine which school the child will attend or what medical procedures the child may have.
As a parent, it is possible for you to be granted one form of custody but not the other. That is, the child may live with you for part of each week, but the other parent has the ability to make decisions for the child. It is most common for both parents to have legal decision making authority for the child, but only one parent will have primary physical custody.
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There are other factors that figure into any custody decision by the courts and parents. Some things to consider include, but are not limited to:
- Joint custody – under joint custody both parents have legal decision making power for the child and either or both parents may have physical custody rights.
- Sole custody – this type of custody places legal and physical custody in the hands of only one parent.
- Grandparent’s rights – in cases where one parent has sole custody, the parents of the parent without custody may still have the right to visit the children.
- Relocation by one parent – if you are a parent who has either sole or joint custody, you may need legal approval in order to move and take the children with you to a new state or country.
- Visitation – under Arizona law, “visitation” usually refers to the rights that a third party may have to see the children. Most often this term is used in relation to grandparents but it may refer to the time a parent is allotted with their child in a joint physical custody setting.
One of the most common areas of disagreement between parents is the amount of time that the child will spend with each parent. As a parent you want to be with your kids as much as possible, especially during important events such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and birthdays. This can create a great deal of stress and anger. An experienced child custody lawyer can help you avoid these conflicts and solve them when they arise.
Can we have each child live with a different parent?
If you and the other parent can mutually agree on a plan to raise your children, the courts do not have to intervene. In fact, they would prefer that parents decide these issues without involving the judicial system. If you cannot decide with the other parent how to share custody of the children, the court may examine the best interest of each individual child and grant custody accordingly.
As outlined above, there are numerous ways a court could decide who gets custody of which child.
- For example, if one child is a teenager and the other is a toddler, the teenager may want to live with the parent who lives closer to a particular high school or with the parent who will give them more freedom. If you, in conjunction with the other parent or with the assistance of the court, decide this is in the teenager’s best interest, it is likely allowable.
Perhaps circumstances have changed since the initial custody agreement between you and the other parent. If so, child custody agreements may be modified if the parents mutually agree or if the court deems that modifying the custody agreement is in the best interest of the child.
Can I be denied custody or visitation with my children?
It is unlikely that you would be totally denied access to visit your children. In the event that the court has concerns about your ability to safely interact with your children, the judge may require that your visits be supervised by a social worker. As a matter of public policy, it is in the best interest of a child to have access to both of their parents and the courts recognize this. However, if you have violated a protective order and have a committed a “significant” act of domestic violence, it is more likely that you will be denied access to your children or forced to undergo supervised visitation.
Can’t we just settle our custody issues without going to court?
Yes, it is possible for you to avoid dealing with a judge. In fact, unless there is abuse or domestic violence concerns, the courts in Arizona prefer that custody disputes be settled out of court. An experienced family law attorney will work with the other parent’s lawyer to craft a mutually agreeable custody arrangement. Avoiding litigation saves you time, money and stress. Your attorney should recognize that making some concessions to the other parent is most often preferable to fighting in court.
Attorney Judd Nemiro believes that every client deserves access to empathetic and vigorous legal representation. He understands that child custody decisions are very stressful. He has vast knowledge of Arizona family law and the court systems in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area and he can put your fears to rest. Judd will evaluate the particular facts of your case, answer any questions you have and provide a clear explanation for how you should proceed. Call his office today for a consultation of your child custody case!
Divorce Lawyer Phoenix Answers Legal Questions on Child Custody
Phoenix divorce attorney Judd Nemiro answers questions related to child custody in Arizona. If you have some questions for Judd you may post them in the comments section below. If you would like to …