Both legal and physical custody are determined by considering the child’s best interests. Legal custody, also known as legal decision making, is the power to have authority in decisions regarding things like the child’s education, medical treatment, and other important matters. Physical custody is time the child spends living with the parent.
The factors the court will consider include, but are not limited to: the conduct between the parents, the relationship with the child and any other siblings, the parents’ histories of abiding by the parenting plan, each parent’s home environment, and the preference of the child. The judge may consider many additional factors depending on the case’s specific circumstances.
Actually, the presumption in Arizona is that the parents should have joint custody. This is because it is usually in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents. Joint custody may not look like an even 50/50 split, but could be weekends and summers with one parent, or another alternative arrangement.
A parenting plan is a written proposal for the court of the child’s schedule with each parent. The plan will address issues like which parent gets the child for holidays and school vacations, how pickups and dropoffs will occur, and parenting rules each party agrees to.
If the parents need to deviate from the parenting plan, they can do so if they are in agreement. Otherwise, the parent that disagrees will need to go to the court to enforce the order. You should avoid getting law enforcement involved unless the other parent takes the child out of the state or country or if the child is in danger.
Sole legal custody is possible in certain circumstances. The court’s baseline is that the parents should have joint custody, and then hears factors to decide if one parent should be awarded more or less than half. The court may award one parent sole custody in situations where one parent struggles with something like a drug or alcohol problem, domestic abuse, or a mental health problem. You should gather evidence, find witnesses, and possibly take parenting classes if you want to strengthen your case for sole custody.
In Arizona, there is no preference between the genders for matters of child custody. Although historically, mothers are more often awarded custody, that trend has slowly faded away. Custody will be decided taking the child’s best interests into account, which is usually an equal relationship with both parents if they are competent.
Chances are that moving out of state with your child would be a violation of your custody order, and possibly even parental kidnapping. You will need to ask the court in advance, and the other parent will also be notified. The court will decide if it would be in the best interests of the child to move with you out of state.
The court won’t ever give a child full authority to decide their own custody matters, but will start hearing the child’s input once the child is old and mature enough to understand what is going on. It is typically around the age of 12 when the court will begin hearing input from a child, but this could depend on factors like the conduct of the parents and the maturity and intelligence levels of the child.
You can file a motion for temporary custody, child support, and spousal support if you would like to have orders to follow during the divorce proceedings. These orders will only be temporary and last until the court has ruled on all of the issues.
Mediation is often far more amicable than a trial, which can result in better outcomes for both the parents and the child. It also may only take a few 5-10 hour sessions to complete, instead of the months or years that a trial can take. Some jurisdictions may even require you to at least try mediation before proceeding to trial. The mediator will help facilitate negotiations for all the issues in your case, keeping both parties focused and civil. It allows the parents to come up with creative solutions to the issues they are facing.
The only way this could affect your ability to proceed with a child support or parenting time matter is you may need to establish the paternity of the child. This can be done through a fairly simple affidavit process if the parents agree, or DNA testing if either parent is denying paternity. Once paternity has been established, custody and child support matters can continue as usual.
No. Custody issues and child support issues are separate, and you can’t withhold parenting time to a spouse who is behind on support payments. You need to contact your local child support enforcement agency to compel your co-parent to pay. They may be able to help you obtain a wage garnishment, seize lump sum payments like tax returns and lottery winnings, or suspend your co-parent’s driver’s license. Withholding parenting time in response to missed support payments will only affect the custody portion of your case, not the support portion.