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How Does My Mental Health Affect My Child Custody Rights?

In general, your mental health is nobody’s business of your own. When it comes to a child custody dispute, however, it is common for mental health concerns to be brought forward by an ex-spouse or soon-to-be ex spouse. Unfortunately, an ex may bring up a parent’s existing mental health condition(s) in an effort to have their custody rights reduced or revoked.

So, how does your mental health actually affect your custody rights? By having a better understanding of how this all works, you can be prepared from a legal standpoint.

When Mental Health Matters in Child Custody

Ultimately, the goal of any child custody decision is to do what is in the child’s best interests. Therefore, a parent’s existing mental health condition doesn’t necessarily matter so long as the condition is well controlled—whether it be through therapy, medication, or another type of management/treatment.

Typically, a judge will look at two main factors when making child custody decisions with mental health concerns in mind. For starters, the judge will want to make sure that your mental health condition does not prevent you from being self-sufficient. After all, you cannot be expected to care for a child if you have trouble meeting your own daily needs.

Likewise, a judge will want to know that your mental health condition is predictable and/or well regulated. For example, if you have a mental health condition that has led to instances of self-harm or attempted self-harm in the past, this could end up being a concern when it comes to child custody.

If You Have a Mental Health Condition…

Keep in mind that mental health conditions are very common; in fact, it is estimated that more than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives. With this in mind, simply having a mental health condition does not automatically mean that your custody rights are in jeopardy.

However, if your ex has brought your mental health condition up as a “concern” in your child custody dispute, then it is important for you to understand your rights. Likewise, it is vital that you show as much proof or documentation as possible that your condition is controlled and that you remain entirely self-sufficient.

A Family Attorney Can Help

Looking for assistance in handling your child custody dispute? An experienced family lawyer from The Sampair Group is here to represent you and work with our best interests in mind. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Arizona Guide to Hybrid Child Custody Orders

Struggling with a child custody dispute can lead to serious disharmony within the family unit. When working with a former spouse regarding child custody, individuals are likely to learn about joint custody and sole custody. While these limited options imply black-and-white solutions, the reality is anything but.

If you are negotiating a custody order within the state of Arizona, make sure you have legal representation to guide you through the process. Experts at The Sampair Group have decades of industry experience working in complicated custody scenarios.

Today, we are going to highlight the reality of hybrid child custody orders.

Legal Custody vs Physical Custody

Before the courts determine which type of child custody is right for your family, it is pivotal that we better understand the two forms of custody in general. Custody references the legal parenting and decision-making over a child. Family law judges will often opt to have joint custody to allow the child access to both family members. If the judge doesn’t think seeing both parents is in the best interest of the child, other custody options may be considered.

Parenting Time is also referred to as physical custody. Working with a judge, parents will lay out a parenting plan that shows when the child will spend time with each member of the family. One parent may have legal authority while the other parent has physical custody or even supervised parenting orders.

So, what exactly is a hybrid child custody order?

Hybrid Custody Scenarios

Hybrid custody orders are often decided upon in situations where amenable agreements can be made. Hybrid custody orders are often done when both parents retain a positive relationship with one another as well as their child.

A few other examples of hybrid custody scenarios include:

  • One Parent Is In The Military –  A parent deployed for military service will often yield hybrid custody situations.
  • Injury or Illness – Parents may occasionally or temporarily cede their parenting rights or legal decision-making in the event of an injury or sudden bout of illness.
  • One Parent Is A Doctor – A medical professional parent may want to have the final say on choices made regarding their child’s health.

Every family dynamic is unique and that means taking a custom, you-first approach to your child custody scenario. For residents of Arizona, the team at The Sampair Group can help.

Contact The Sampair Group

The Sampair Group focuses on family law for clients throughout Maricopa County. Providing aggressive and affordable legal representation, The Sampair Group represents clients for complex legal matters including divorce cases, child custody, child relocation, and property and debt division.  With 39 + years of decorated legal experience, Attorney Patrick Sampair leads a distinguished team of attorneys with more than 60 combined years of experience in the field.

Other reasons to contact The Sampair Group for representation include

  • Free Consultation
  • Flat Fees
  • Pay As You Go Service (No Retainer or Deposit)
  • Limited Scope and Full-Service Representation

With locations in Glendale, Scottsdale, and Chandler, you can rest easy by contacting The Sampair Group, today!

What If the Other Parent Won’t Comply With the Court Order?

Unfortunately, having a court order for child custody doesn’t always guarantee that things will be smooth sailing. This is often the case when the other parent fails to comply with a custody order that has been issued by a judge. If you’re going through this, you may be wondering what recourse you have and what steps you should take next.

Document Everything

First and foremost, try to remain calm; emotions naturally run high when child custody agreements are not being followed. However, you will want to keep your composure as much as you can. Focus your efforts on documenting each instance where the other parent is not complying with the court order. If the parent is late picking up or dropping your child off, for example, be sure to write down the date(s) and the time(s) that this occurred.

The more documentation you have of the parent not following your court order, the better your case will look in court.

File a Motion to Enforce Parenting Time

The next step you will most likely want to take is to file a legal motion with the court; this is known as a motion to enforce parenting time. When you submit this motion, a judge will review your original court order, as well as any documentation or evidence you have gathered. In some cases, the other parent may be fined for violating the original custody order. In other cases, the judge may change the original custody order to give you more time with the child or make other alterations to the original agreement.

Attend Necessary Hearings

In some cases, a judge may request additional information from each party. When this occurs, a court hearing will be scheduled. Typically, both parties will be required to attend. This is an important time to bring any additional evidence or documentation you may have of the other parent’s failure to follow the original court order. At this hearing, you should also be prepared to hear counter-allegations that the other parent may have against you (whether they are true or not).

At the end of the hearing, the judge will most likely reach a decision on whether to alter the original court order or to impose fines (or even jail time) on the other parent.

Get the Legal Representation You Need

Dealing with a parent who does not follow your child custody order can be stressful and frustrating. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help get your order enforced. Still, the best way to navigate this complex legal process is to work with an experienced family law attorney. At The Sampair Group, we offer the representation and guidance you need during this difficult time. Find out more about our attorneys or schedule your free consultation with us today!

What Are Third Party Visitation Rights in Arizona?

According to the A.R.S § 25-409 statute, third-party rights in Arizona allow the placement of children into the home of a third party. The statute also grants third-party visitation rights in certain circumstances. When going through a divorce or paternity case, this statute is commonly referenced when rights and requests are petitioned to the court. If you’re a third party seeking visitation rights, keep reading to learn how this statute and others can be used in your favor.

How Do Visitation Rights Play Out in Arizona?

When a third party requests visitation rights in Arizona, this is what is known as atypical family law. During most divorce or paternity cases, the child’s best interest is always evaluated with both parents starting off on equal footing. However, during a third-party case, both parents are given an advantage over the third party because a parent always has rights unless they sign them away. This is what is referred to as a “mother and father having an equal constitutional right to provide the control, custody, care, and protection over their child. There is no such right for third parties.

When a third party intends to file a petition with the court to request third-party visitation rights, it must meet all criteria outlined in § 25-402, subsection B, paragraph 2:

  1. Must establish that the third party is standing in loco parentis to the child
  2. Must establish that removing the child from the legal parents’ home(s) is significant to the well-being of the child
  3. Within the prior year of filing the petition, there cannot be an entered or approved order regarding the legal decision-making of the child; the same applies for an order regarding parenting time; however, these criteria do not apply when the child currently resides in an environment that could bring serious endangerment to the child’s health, including its physical, mental, or emotional health
  4. One of the following criteria must be met:
  • A legal parent is deceased
  • The child’s legal parents are not legally married to one another when the third party files the petition
  • There is a proceeding for the dissolution of marriage between the legal parents when the petition is filed or the proceeding for a legal separation

When all four elements have been met in a manner in which it can be proved, then Rebuttable Presumption allows for the case to be set to trial.

If and when a trial takes place, the petitioner goes through the process of rebutting that the presumption of giving a parent the authority to be the sole legal decision-maker for the child is going to be in the best interest of the child. It is very important that clear evidence is obtained to make this claim and to file a petition. Without sufficient evidence establishing all four elements have been met, most petitions are quickly tossed from the court’s recognizance. Having a solid and experienced attorney who knows atypical family case law is essential to winning a third-party visitation case and is often the difference between an approved or denied petition.

image of father with two children

What to Do When Children Don’t Want to Go to Visitation

When a visitation schedule is set by a court order, following these orders should be pretty straight-forward…right? Well, not always. When a child no longer wants to attend a visitation with another parent, this can complicate matters significantly. By having a better understanding of why these issues arise and what your legal responsibilities are, you can handle this difficult situation properly.

Common Reasons for Visitation Hesitation

When a child seems hesitant or downright refuses to attend visitation with the other parent, the first step you’ll want to take is to determine why this is occurring. This is especially important is the hesitation seems to have come out of nowhere.

Some of the most common reasons that a child may not want to attend visitation include:

  • a poor relationship with the other parent’s partner/spouse or other children in the household
  • general resentment over a divorce or separation
  • a poor relationship with the other parent
  • a change in household rules or rituals that the child is uncomfortable with

Some less common (but more serious) reasons a child may be hesitant about visitation include:

  • substance abuse in the other home
  • physical/emotional abuse in the other home
  • sexual misconduct in the other home

Do You Have to Make Your Child Attend Visitation?

Unless you have a legal reason to withhold your child’s visitation from the other parent (such as evidence/claims of abuse or misconduct), it is generally your legal responsibility to follow your court-ordered parenting plan as closely as possible. This remains true even if the other parent is behind on child support payments.

If you suspect that your child simply doesn’t want to visit with the other parent due to other circumstances (like not wanting to be away from friends or having to conform to a different set of “house rules”), there are some strategies you can employ. The best course of action is usually to speak with the other parent and come up with a plan that will make everybody happier and more comfortable.

If visitation continues to be an issue, however, you can go back to court and request a re-working of the visitation plan. Before you do this, though, you’ll want to make sure the other parent is aware of the issues and that you have made an honest attempt to work through them. You’ll also want to start carefully documenting each instance where your child refuses or is hesitant to visit the other parent, as this documentation may come in handy in court.

Consult With a Family Lawyer for More Help

If you’re running into issues with your court-ordered visitation schedule, it can also be helpful to consult with a family lawyer who specializes in these types of cases. An experienced lawyer will be able to provide you with the personalized guidance and legal advice you need to move forward and challenge your current visitation arrangement in court if needed.

Ready to schedule your free consultation with our legal team? The Sampair Group is always here to assist you. Contact us today to find out more about what we can do for you.

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/.

What can I do to get full custody?

Question:

What can I do to get full custody?

I have been separated from my husband for 10 months and want full custody. I am from Arizona and 12 months ago we moved to South Dakota to be closer to his family. After 2 months of being there he cheated on me and we have been separated ever since. Recently (under the advice of a lawyer) I moved back with the kids to Arizona. The kids are 2.5 and 5 years old. I now have an apartment, a job and have enrolled the oldest in school. All my family and support system is here in Arizona. The father is verbally abusive, but does not want to help with child care. I want full or sole custody of the children to ensure they stay with me. What kind of battle will I have to fight to ensure this happens. There is no family or friends for me in South Dakota and I absolutely do not want to go back there. I would give up any child support just to have full custody.

Answer:

You do not have the option of “giving up child support to have full custody.” At such time as you file for divorce, the court will address custody and support as well as other issues.

An important note is that the children must reside back here in Arizona for 6 months before the court will have jurisdiction over them.

You should seek a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney and probably not discuss the matter with your husband again until you do.

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/.

Questions From AVVO: Child Custody and Substance Abuse

child custody lawyer ArizonaQuestion

What types of proof are needed to show the judge about my ex’s alcoholism in order to limit visitation time of our newborn? My ex and I had been in a battle about his alcoholism’s effects on my first child (6 yrs old) for over a year. When we found out I was pregnant, his drinking increased to the point of leaving my daughter alone at home while he went to get more alcohol. (I was working). We are now separated and have a newborn. We are getting ready to enter the court system but I am nervous that he will be granted copious visitation. He currently lives with his alcoholic mother and has refused rehab. I’m nervous that our newborn will be neglected due to his inability to care for her while he is intoxicated. His mother also has unsafe & outdated parenting ideals that I’m worried he will implement. What can I do to show the court my concerns? I don’t mind him seeing his child, I would just rather me be there.

Answer

Obviously your child should not be exposed to substance abuse. There are many ways to address the issue: does he have a DUI; has he lost a job because of drinking; any photos of his house with liquor all over; any Facebook information available. Many of the Judges will have him drug tested for alcohol. These TASC drug tests are very good and usually go back about 4-5 days. Also you can request that he be assessed by an appropriate agency for signs of substance abuse. You should contact an attorney to discus the details of your case before filing anything with the Court, if you can.

Child custody battles can be a challenging time that can be made worse by a parent with a substance abuse problem. The Sampair Group is here for you. Visit www.sampair.com to schedule a free consultation.

Questions from AVVO: Emails as Evidence

divorce attorney ArizonaQuestion

How much regard is given to emails as evidence in court? My children’s father has this habit of sending me emails any time there is a dispute going on, he states the facts true to the most part but twists it just in the right way to make himself look great and try to make me look bad. He is a very manipulative person. How should I go about countering these emails…..should I reply with my version of the truth or should I just let them be. How much credit will those emails be given in court. We are headed to mediation next month in an attempt to modify our parenting plan.

Patrick’s Answer

It is very difficult to answer this question without actually seeing at least a sampling of the emails. Moreover, I cannot tell from your question whether you even have an action pending in Court or if the action involves Legal Decision-making (Custody) or parenting time with children. If there is no action pending you will have to determine which emails are relevant or which emails actually address relevant issues. Remember that if there are many emails the Court may never read most of them because it does not have time to do so. Only respond to those emails that address a specific issue and do not get in a fencing match over who did what. Just give your opinion on the relevant issue and do not argue about who did what. Best to just say “I disagree with your statement of the facts.” Keep your emails short and to the point. Frequently parents will write emails which are clearly designed for the Court rather than to address real issues. Usually the Court can figure that out. Lastly if the emails are out of control and the issues involve children, it may be wise to ask the Court for a Parenting Coordinator to help the two of you communicate better. That person “works” for the Judge and can make recommendations to the Court to improve communication, including the limiting of emails. However the Parenting Coordinator does cost money and generally both of you must share the cost.

Settling issues before finalizing a divorce can be challenging. The Sampair Group understands how difficult it can be. Visit www.sampair.com to schedule a free consultation.

Questions From AVVO: Court Ordered Visitation

divorce attorney Mesa ArizonaQuestion

My ex and I have been divorced for a year and have followed the visitation plan to a T. The plan states that I am to get our child for “at least seven weeks during the summer months”…I have requested my seven weeks through my ex-wife but she doesn’t agree with those dates. She is due to have a child during the summer and wants our daughter there…understandably. But I am getting married and chose the summer so that my daughter could be there. We cannot come to an agreement to verbally modify the summer visit. Can my ex refuse to send my daughter because she doesn’t agree with the dates I’ve chosen? They are in line with the same dates she visited last year.

Patrick’s Answer

If your ex is not obeying the Court Orders then she is violating them. Thus you have a right to file a Petition to Enforceme Parenting Time. However you will likely not be able to timely resolve this issue with such a filing as it will likely not be heard by the Court until sometime in the summer. That would be too late for both you and your ex. In that case she will do whatever she wants as there is no way to get the hearing sooner. However I think rather than a Petition to Enforce, you should file a Motion with the Court to resolve this issue on an expedited basis as the children will be negatively affected without a resolution. Typically the Court will give you a telephonic hearing on the matter. I believe that you may need to have an attorney help you in order to ensure this matter is heard before the summer.

Sharing the custody of a child can be challenging – especially when there are special engagements on the horizon. The experienced attorneys at The Sampair Group can help. Visit www.sampair.com to schedule a free consultation.