Co-Parenting Tips During COVID-19

Co-parenting is already a challenge. Any disruption can make it even more challenging. COVID-19 has changed the way the world works. That also means it’s changed many parenting schedules. While you need to remain flexible during something like a pandemic, there are also boundaries that must not be crossed. Here are some tips for protecting your children and your relationships with them during COVID-19.

Set Boundaries Early On

Talk to your co-parent about COVID-19. Are you against your children returning to school? Do you need them to engage in certain precautions? What is your stance on them interacting with their peers? Different people have different levels of risk. Some may want their children entirely quarantined, while others may be okay with them seeing some friends if social distancing remains in effect. You need to communicate with your co-parent about what your boundaries are and negotiate reasonable strategies.

Consider Your Parenting Time

Understand that you might need to modify your established schedules. It’s not going to be reasonable, for instance, for children to go between households every week during the pandemic. This is especially true if one parent has a high-risk job, such as a job on the frontlines. A temporary agreement for parenting time may need to be invoked, so you can keep your family safe while remaining safe yourself.

Review Your Medical Rights

Sometimes both parents have medical rights for their children. Sometimes only one does. This is a good time to review your rights. If you want to get your children a vaccine in the future, can their other parent block you? If they want to take your children in for testing, will you be notified? Look over your medical rights with your attorney if you are concerned, it may be time to modify your rights to better suit the situation.

Have a Plan in Place

What happens if you test positive for COVID? What about your co-parent? What if both of you test positive for COVID? You should create plans with your co-parent regarding these types of emergencies. You might not have time when they are actually happening, or you could suddenly find out that your co-parent isn’t on the same page as you. You should also consider what you’ll do if your children test positive but you and your co-parent don’t. At that point, it may be better to limit risk by keeping them with one parent.

Talk to Your Attorney

If you’re having issues with your co-parent, you should consult with your attorney before the issues become any more severe. An attorney doesn’t have to escalate the situation. Rather, they can educate you on your options, and methods by which you and your co-parent can come to an agreement. In the time of COVID, situations can become more dangerous and more aggressive quite quickly. It’s best to have plans in place before they become urgent, rather than later.

COVID-19 will pass. But it’s important to establish healthy relationships with your co-parent and your children. Long-term, what happens now is going to affect your family. If you feel that you need help, it’s time to contact an attorney.

Modifying Your Child Support Order

Under federal and state law, parents have a right to request a modification of a child support order. Both parents must reach an agreement to modify the child support order. If there is no agreement between both parties, a judge can be asked to approve the change as long as it is explained why the modification need is justified and how the amount modification that is requested will benefit the child. In this court hearing, you must be able to show evidence that circumstances have changed since the existing order. Depending on the circumstances, the judge will decide if the modification will be temporary or permanent. A permanent modification order will remain in effect until child support is no longer needed, or if the order is again modified in the future. If you are unsure of whether you have valid reasons for a child support order modifications, contact a Glendale Family Law professional. Here are some examples of the types of changes that support a modification order:

Temporary

  • a child’s medical emergency
  • a temporary inability for the payer to be able to make child support payments, whether it be for a illness, temporary financial burden, medical emergency
  • temporary financial or medical hardship for the recipient parent

Permanent

  • either parent has lost their job or gets new employment with a decreased income
  • one or both parents remarry and the new spouse’s income increases the household income
  • the cost of living increases  for one or both parents
  • either parent becomes disabled
  • the child’s needs have changed (education, health, etc.)
  • child support laws have changed

 

Through Arizona Child Support Order Guidelines, when one parent files a Petition to Modify Child Support, the filing party will serve the other party with the petition, allowing for response from the other party, who may choose to do nothing or request a hearing. If the party that is served with the petition is a resident of Arizona, they have 20 days from the date served to respond. If they are not a resident of Arizona, they have 30 days to respond. It is then up to the judge to set a hearing date and decide how to proceed with the case.

If you have found yourself in a situation where you are unable to pay support because you have lost a job or your income has decreased significantly, do not wait to modify your child support order. Contact an experience Phoenix divorce lawyer at The Sampair Group for legal representation in any family law dispute.

Homeschooling and Child Custody

Homeschooling has become more and more popular in recent years. Some parents choose this option for religious reasons, others because they simply believe their child will be better served by education at home. Homeschooling can become an issue in a custody case in several situations. When a parenting plan is being created, the plan has to work with the schooling schedule. Sometimes one parent opposes homeschooling and would prefer a child attend public or private schools and will not consent to homeschooling.

In Arizona, the parent with legal decision-making authority makes the decision about how and where the child will be educated. If legal decision-making is being decided by the court and the parents have differing views on schooling, this may play a part in the decision the court makes. The custody decision is made based on what is in the child’s best interests. One of the factors considered by the court in this analysis is the child’s adjustment to school. If a child is currently homeschooled, the court will examine how the child is doing and if remaining in homeschooling would benefit the child. If the child is currently in a traditional school, the court will again examine the child’s progress and determine if remaining in the school or switching to homeschooling is best.

Homeschooling is legal and is considered an appropriate education as long as the parent providing the education meets the standards and requirements set by the state. In the past, homeschooling may have been a negative factor, but today it is considered acceptable.

If you are involved in a custody battle involving homeschooling, gather records and evidence that demonstrate your child’s progress (or lack of progress) in the current schooling environment. If your child was previously involved in a different kind of schooling, evidence of how well your child fared in that environment will provide needed contrast.

Call the Sampair Group for advice in your custody case in the Glendale, Mesa, and Phoenix areas of Arizona. We are ready to help you with your case.

Termination of Parental Rights

Termination of parental rights permanently ends the legal parent-child relationship. Once these rights are terminated, a child may be adopted without parental consent.

Termination of parental rights may be voluntary, based on the informed consent of the parent, or it may be involuntary, a result of court proceedings brought against the parent.

In Arizona, courts will only involuntarily terminate parental rights in extreme situations, such as the child being in serious emotional or physical danger, and the termination of the parental rights is in the best interest of the child.

A parent is deemed unfit if any of the following conditions apply:

  • Abandonment of the child
  • Sever or chronic abuse or neglect
  • Long-term illness or deficiency of the parent
  • Long-term alcohol or drug induced incapacity of the parent
  • Abuse or neglect of other children in the household
  • Felony conviction or incarceration
  • Failure to establish paternity
  • Murder or manslaughter of a sibling child
  • Felony assault of child or sibling
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Failure of Reasonable Efforts

There are circumstances, however, that are not considered valid grounds for termination. Some parties that have been through a divorce seek to terminate a parent’s rights because they do not pay child support or do not follow the visitation schedule. These are not sufficient grounds for a termination of parent rights proceeding.

If parents decide to place their child or children for adoption, it is considered to be voluntary termination of parental rights.

Under Arizona law, the right to file an action for the termination of parental rights goes to any person or agency with an interest in the welfare of the child. The action can be filed as long as the person taking the action has sufficient grounds to base the claim. The people and agencies that often petition for termination of parental rights are relatives, foster parents, physicians/nurses, Arizona Child Protective Services, and child welfare agencies.

If you are thinking of relinquishing your parent’s rights or have been served with an involuntary termination proceeding order, it is best to get legal advice from a Phoenix Family Law Attorney at the Sampair Group. The experienced child custody attorneys at Sampair represent individuals throughout the valley with locations in Phoenix, Glendale and Mesa.

Prevent Co-Parenting Failures

Learning to co-parent after a divorce or separation involves a learning curve. Even though you’ve been parents together for your child’s entire life, your relationship and situation is different after a divorce. Avoid these common pitfalls as you create a co-parenting relationship that will hopefully work for many years.

  • Ignoring the terms of the agreement. You have an order that spells your parenting schedule. You and your ex need to be flexible and ready to make changes as both of you will need accommodations from time to time. However it’s important to respect the basic terms of the order and the overall split of time. The written order should be what you follow as much of the time as possible. The details matter, such as transfer times, and these should not be lost.
  • Misunderstanding motives. If you and your ex don’t actually talk about things, it’s easy to assume he or she is trying to make your life difficult or stick it to you. Try to avoid the blame game and simply assume good motives whenever possible. In the end, motivation doesn’t really matter – you need to deal with the actual situation itself, not the reasons behind it.
  • Incorrect focus. The point of your co-parenting agreement or order is to provide your child with meaningful contact with both parents. The order is not supposed to be about putting parent’s wishes first. The focus is supposed to be on the child. Staying focused on that will allow both of you to live the agreement more easily.
  • No partnership. To parent together you have to see yourselves as on the same team. People on the same team cooperate, root for each other, and share common goals and plans. It can be hard to get to the place where you are able to cooperate, but you will likely feel much more in balance if you can reach this point.

The Sampair Group is ready to represent you in your family court case in the Glendale, Mesa, and Phoenix areas of Arizona. Schedule a time to speak with one of our skilled attorneys.

Child Relocation in Arizona

Following a divorce that involves a child or children, the custodial parents may wish to relocate with the children. By Arizona state law, the court cannot keep a custodial parent from relocating, but a compromise can be difficult to negotiate between parents when visitation rights will be affected. As a result, these cases are typically resolved in court.

Many child custody orders require that both parents live in the same state. However, the custodial parent has the right to request relocation for a child, as long as the reasons for relocation are legitimate and in the best interest of the child. Child relocation is often granted in situations that involve the custodial parent getting a new job or remarrying.

If both parents already live in the same state and share custody, the parent that wants to relocate with the child more than 100 miles from their current residence must provide written notice 60 days in advance of a projected move. The non-custodial parent then has a 30-day window to decline the request. If they object, they must file a formal objection with the court, where a judge will set a hearing with both parents present to decide if the move is in the best interest of the child. If there is no response to the written notice, the court will assume that there is no objection, and will grant relocation, given that all reasons for relocation are valid in opinion of a judge. During this process, child custody agreements, child support payments, and visitation will be re-litigated.

Before approving relocation, the court must make specific findings and relevant factors that solidify that the relocation is being decided in the best interest of the child. The parent who wants to relocate has the legal burden of proving what is in the child’s best interest.

Examples of factors that the court will consider include:

  • Reasons that the custodial parent wants to relocate (employment, family support, etc.)
  • How the move will impact the child educationally and emotionally
  • How the move will affect the other parent’s ability to visit the child

If you need representation in a family law dispute, contact an experience Phoenix Family Law attorney at The Sampair Group today to get a decision made in your favor.

Do Assets Need To Be Divided During a Divorce?

Divorce is so complicated because it involves complex financial calculations and formulas. The actual ending of your relationship to each is quite simple. Divorce takes so much time and money because the assets and debts of the marriage must be divided and often there are important issues regarding children. You may wonder then if it is possible to divorce without dividing up assets. Understanding what can happen to your assets during a divorce is important.

In general, with certain important exceptions, any assets or debts acquired during your marriage by either of you are community assets and debts.They belongs to both of you and must be divided in the divorce. The ownership of community propertymust be addressed in your divorce (the exception to this would be if you have had a marriage of very short duration and have not had time to acquire any community assets or debts).

You don’t need to go to court to have this division occur. You and your spouse can create a settlement agreement on your own.Decide how you want to split everything up. If you agree, it’s a fairly simple matter for your attorney to draft the divorce papers and move your divorce through the courts quickly without undue delay. Even if you can’t decide on your own, an attorney or mediator can help you quickly divide everything so that your divorce can move forward without contest.

Some spouses keep things completely separate throughout their marriage, never putting two names on any asset or debt. Although these items are legally community property, this can simplify your divorce if you agree that each will own or be responsible for assets or debts currently in the spouse’s own names.

The Sampair Grouphandles divorce and family law cases in the Mesa, Phoenix, and Glendale areas of Arizona. Our attorneys are uniquely qualified to handle your case with attention to detail. Call our office to schedule a convenient appointment today.

Should We Stay Together For The Kids?

After many years of marriage, the stresses may seem to increase with each year passing. You and your spouse may be at the breaking point where you are pondering the idea of divorce, but knowing how it would impact the children may stop those thoughts. However, it is also important to wonder if staying together for the children is any better.

There is no clear answer to how to approach this situation, and each circumstance is different. It’s important to think about the children’s best interests. Are they better off in a home where their parents are constantly fighting and are unhappy most of the time or would they benefit more down the road if mom and dad were not together, but they were each happier?

Staying together “for the kids” certainly comes with risks. If you are miserable in your marriage, your family may be loaded with arguments, anger, frustration and pain. If you are a couple that cannot be civil or handle conflict rationally with each other, your child may learn these bad parenting skills and be negatively impacted by them.

Another risk that comes with staying married for the sake of the children is that your child may be neglected while you and your spouse are wrapped up in their own conflicts. It may be physical neglect, such as the parents completely check out of parenting, or it may be emotional neglect, and the parents may not show up together for the child’s important events or may try and alienate the child from the other parent.

If you and your spouse cannot co-parent effectively while living in the same household, you may want to rethink the situation and realize that co-parenting from separate homes may be what is best for your child.

There are times, however, when the child will benefit if the family stays intact, even if the parents are no longer in love with each other. Co-parenting under the same roof is better as long as each parent can stay civil and keep the children out of their arguments and conflict.

For more information on child custody and family law, look to the Glendale and Phoenix family law attorneys at The Sampair Group.

Custody and Your Child’s School

When you’re going through a custody case, you instinct may be to try to keep it quiet for as long as possible, in order to protect your child. It is a lot to deal with and if suddenly everyone your child knows is aware of it, it can be overwhelming. Although you might not be ready to tell the world, it is important to communicate with your child’s school about what is happening.

Because of the situation at home, your child’s behavior at school may be impacted. It’s a good idea to communicate with your child’s teacher so she is prepared to help your child should emotions surface at school. Children react in many different ways and your child’s teacher could be puzzled by a sudden behavior change if she doesn’t know what’s happening inside your family. It is also possible that your child may decide to open up to the teacher about the situation, so you want her to be in the loop. The school may also have resources for children going through divorce, such as counseling or support groups. Peer group meetings can be of invaluable help for your child so he can see that other kids are coping with the same issues.

Once you have a temporary or permanent order of custody, you will want to give a copy to the school, particularly if you want restrictions placed on whether your ex can pick your child up or take him out of school. They need to know who is the custodial parent and who has decision-making authority. If the non-custodial parents wants to stay informed with copies of notices, report cards, and parent-teacher conferences, the school may need a copy of the order to provide these as well.

When you need an attorney who will stand up for you, call the Sampair Group in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Glendale. We’re ready to take your call.

Can I refuse to sign the affidavit of paternity?

Question:

Can I refuse to sign the affidavit of paternity?

I am about to enter into a paternity case. I tested positive for a DNA test. What happens if I refuse to sign the affidavit of paternity at the court hearing?

Answer:

If you were confirmed to be the father of the child, the Judge will declare that you are the father. There will no longer be any need for you to sign an Affidavit of Paternity.

Good luck!

Patrick Sampair
The Sampair Group, PLLC

Offices Valley-wide:
Arrowhead: 17235 N. 75th Avenue, Suite E-100, Glendale, AZ
City North: 5450 E High St #300, Phoenix, AZ
East Valley: 1830 S. Alma School #114, Mesa, AZ

West Valley: 623.218.1000
Phoenix: 602.997.7717
East Valley: 480.636.1333

To read more of Phoenix child custody law attorney Patrick Sampair’s answers on Avvo and be sure to check out his child custody page, or if you have a question for Mr. Sampair ask him directly at: https://www.sampair.com/.