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Different Types of Child Custody

Each state governs child custody laws differently. In order to best understand your options for child custody and visitation options, you should be familiar with the different terms and types of child custody and how your Phoenix child custody attorney will help you approach the different options you can consider.

Legal Custody

When a parent has legal custody, they have the right to make any decisions regarding the need and upbringing of the child. This includes decisions about education, health care and religion, as long as there is consultation with the other parent.
In many states, both parents will be granted joint legal custody and can both have legal rights to making decisions about how to raise their children. Parents can share joint legal custody without having joint physical custody.
When sole legal custody is granted to a parent, the one granted this kind of custody is the only one who has the legal authorization to make major decisions on behalf of the child.

Physical Custody
Also called “residential custody,” sole physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with a majority of the time and only has visitation with the other parent. If the child is spending an equal amount of time with each parent, the state might award the parents join physical custody. This type of custody works best if the parents live relatively near each other as it lessens the interference in the child’s every day life.

Sole Custody
One of the reasons a parent might be awarded sole custody is if the other parent is proven to be extremely unfit to care for the child (i.e. drug or alcohol problems, charges of child abuse or neglect).
In many states, courts will hesitate to award sole legal custody to a parent to try and enlarge the role that both parents can possibly make in the child’s life will still considering the child’s best interest.

Joint Custody
This is the most common types of custody awarded in divorce cases when no parental issues exist. Joint custody is awarded equally to each parent and can take the form of joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both. Joint custody can be granted if the parents are divorced, separated, no longer living together, or even if they have never lived together.

In Arizona, statute provides that the court may not prefer one parent to another with respect to custody based on the gender of either parent. They are required to determine the best interest of the minor children by applying the statutory factors regarding custody and parenting time in correlation with the facts of the case. Contact an experienced Glendale family law attorney at The Sampair Group today for legal representation in your divorce and child custody hearing.

Make Co-Parenting Work

Whether or not you get along with your ex, co-parenting can be difficult and cause tension that may or may not already have existed. Here are some tips to making co-parenting work without hostility, and more importantly, without negatively affecting your child.

  • Don’t criticize the things you cannot control. Learn to accept that your ex’s parenting style or skills may be different than yours. It’s easy to spend a lot of time and energy being aggravated by the things they do or don’t do, but accepting the things you cannot change will save you a great deal of stress, both emotionally and physically. Instead, channel this energy into spending quality time with your children.
  • If you have any angry feelings, keep them to yourself or express them privately to a therapist or close friend. When you are with your kids, do not express your frustrations. Showing the kids you are angry at your ex can cause confusion from the children and can be unhealthy for them to be exposed to. Kids tend to pick up attitudes that you may not realize your expressing.
  • Be sure to cooperate with each other as much as possible to avoid any resentment or argument. Be consistent in your parenting styles by communicating and compromising on ways to punish or reward your child for certain behaviors so that the child doesn’t think they can get away with something with one parent that they may not be able to with another without consequence.
  • When it comes to following a visitation schedule, always be responsible in maintaining the plan of visits. If changes need to be made, discuss it with the other parent in advance.
  • Do not make your children the middle form of communication. Sending messages through your children can hurt the child and confuse them. All communication should only be done between parents.
  • Even if it is your time with the kids, make a point to invite the other parents to events that involve the child, such as sporting events, holiday gatherings and birthday parties. Inform your ex in a timely matter so it doesn’t appear to be a last-minute thought that they weren’t a part of before.

Co-parenting and other elements of child custody cases can be stressful and confusing. An experienced Glendale divorce lawyer at The Sampair Group will look at the unique circumstances of your child custody agreement and work with you to reach the best possible outcome. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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.

When Is It Possible To Change A Child Support Order?

Our lives are always in a constant state of change. A divorce definitely shakes things up and can bring many more changes that create havoc in your life. Many times, due to a change in your livelihood, fulfilling your obligations to child support orders can become difficult. While laws will vary by state, most courts will need a compelling reason to make a modification to your child support order.

While not always, but at times, it is possible to request a modification to the original child support order. This is no easy task, but situations in your life may meet the criteria for such a request. With support and proper direction, you may be successful.

It is important to remember that you need more than just a verbal agreement with the other parent if you decide to pay what is contrary in the written order. A future dispute with the other parent may prove to be an unfavorable outcome for you if there is no legal change to your support orders. Even if there is a new written agreement, be sure that you have the judge sign the agreement so the current order reflects the newly agreed upon amount.

Let’s take a brief look at the beginning process of modifying a child support order and what information you will need to tackle the challenge ahead.

  1. You may be able to request modifications to your child support order if your job has been lost or your financial situation has changed negatively. If you simply feel your child support order is unfair or unreasonable, you may seek a modification, as well.
  2. It will be necessary to file the appropriate paperwork with the desired modifications. In the event that changes are not agreed upon between the parents, you will have the opportunity to present your case to the judge.
  3. A modification to child support orders can be permanent or just temporary; this will depend on the circumstances surrounding the reason for the request.

Child support obligations can be financially taxing, and you have the right to request a modification if your finances change. It is always a good idea to seek legal advice and guidance to ensure you take the appropriate course of action. There are many lawyers who specialize in custody cases, and most of them have an extensive amount of knowledge relating to child support orders. You can speak with one of these lawyers to see if you have a favorable case to present to a judge.

Three Things To Avoid If You Want To Keep Custody Of Your Kids

Getting divorced involves making decisions on many things. Some of the choices, like who gets the CD collection, are easy when compared to other issues that must be tackled. Among the most difficult things to decide during divorce are how to divide assets and liabilities, and who gets custody of the children. Making sure your kids are safe and happy are our priority as well, which is why we take an aggressive position when advocating for your children and offer advice on how you can help your cause.

A recent article regarding a celebrity who lost custody claims the result was due to actress’ Kelly Rutherford’s alleged interference with the relationship her children had with her ex. This scenario is being seen more frequently and is referred to as parental alienation syndrome (PAS), which is described as a pattern of behavior by one parent that influences the way a child feels about the other. The instances of PAS seem to be increasing, and as more claims are made it is likely the Courts will begin considering this type of activity when deciding custody. Three other things to avoid if you want to keep custody of your kids include:

  • Stay off social media! Things you post can come back to haunt you, and may even cost you custody.
  • Keep your friends close, but stop short of divulging every detail of your case. The more you keep to yourself, the less chance you have of putting friends and family in the awkward position of having to offer testimony that may damage your case.
  • Stay out of trouble with the law. Judges can be hesitant to give custody to parents that have a lengthy criminal record.

The bottom line is that custody and even visitation issues will be determined by an examination of factors the Court believes are in the “best interests of your kids”. Every case is different; but common themes include whether the home is stable, the wishes of the children (for older, more mature kids), the strength of any existing relationship with each parent, the ability of the parents to provide for the emotional and financial needs of the kids, and how well the kids will be able to adjust to a new environment if a change of school or other regular activities is made.

Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today.

How To Choose A Child Custody Arrangement That Works For You

Determining that divorce is the best answer to resolving your marriage issues is only the first of many hard decisions. Throughout the process there will be many issues that require resolution, and some will be more difficult than others. A divorce decides such things as property distribution, spousal support, who pays which debts, where the kids will live, how much visitation the non-custodial parent gets, and how much child support is paid. Hands down the most complex and contested issues have to do with money and kids. Figuring out a child custody arrangement that works for you takes time and thoughtful consideration.

The Marital and Domestic Relations law in Arizona is the relevant law for all things divorce and separation, including child custody. First and foremost the most important factor is to make decisions that are in the best interests of your children. Some of the things to think about when in this regard include:

  • How well you are able to work together with your ex on issues regarding your kids.
  • How well the parents work together regarding issues involving their kids.
  • The financial ability of each parent to provide for the kids in way to which they are accustomed.
  • The preference of an older child, if there is one.
  • Logistics, such as school or daycare drop off and pick up.
  • Whether your children are involved in any extracurricular activities that are geographically closer to one parent or the other.

Nationwide there has been an increase in requests for equal parenting time. This type of plan gives each parent equal time with the kids and works best when the parents live reasonably close to each other. Where equal parenting  will not work the Court will consider what options are available to give both parents meaningful parenting time. For instance a common plan is where the kids live primarily with one parent, and spend weekends and some holidays with the other parent. This might be best for your circumstances if you are relocating. The type of parenting plan that works best for you will depend on the specifics of your case. And, in cases of relocation you must seek approval of the Court to do so with your children in tow. To make sure the parenting plan arrangement in your case works for you and your kids, partner with a qualified family law attorney. Our team of family law professionals is here to to help you make the choice works best your family.

For answers to your questions about how to choose a child custody arrangement that works for you, consult a qualified legal professional. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call the Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

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/.

Back to School Tips for Divorced Parents (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

Always Help With Homework
Even if you are not the custodial parent, try to have your kids do their homework with you. This is helpful so you know how they are progressing in school and help with any big projects they may have.

Plan Out The Year
Sit down with each other in the late summer a few weeks before school begins to lay out a schedule and other plans on a calendar to plan the entire school year. Don’t forget to include on this calendar any sports or other school activities that the child will be a part of. The more organized you are, the less confusion and stress there will be.

Buy Extra
Buy duplicate used schoolbooks so the child has one at each home. This way they don’t have to constantly remember to bring a huge load of books from one place to another.

Divide Duties
Before school begins, decide which parent will be responsible for the different parts of getting your child ready to begin, including who will buy school supplies, back-to-school clothes, etc. You should each be pitching in the same amount of time and money.

 

Back to School Tips for Divorced Parents (Part 1)

Co-parenting is a full time job in itself, and adding a school schedule into the mix doesn’t make things any easier. As a divorced parent going through these struggles, it is also important to know that the start of the school year is just as stressful for your children as it is for you, if not more. But there are plenty of ways to make the back-to-school experience easier for your children and both parents.

Communicate
Keep up with constant communication with your ex-spouse about all school activities, correspondences and any other information regarding your child’s schooling. Both of you must always be in the loop equally. Never use your child as a form of communication between the two of you.

Scheduling
Make sure to coordinate each of your schedules so that it is guaranteed that your child will have a ride to/from school or to other school activities.

Keep Teachers In The Loop
Be sure that the school has record of both parents taking care of the child separately, in case of emergency. Also, if there is one parent that is not involved, be sure to inform the teachers. This can help them avoid any embarrassing situations (i.e. inviting a child to a “Dad’s Day” event if their father is not in the picture.)

Keep It Simple
Some children may be confused about how to explain their situation to their friends. Simply tell them that they can explain that sometimes they live with mom, and sometimes they live with dad.

Read more in Part 2

 

Child Custody Evaluations

When parents cannot reach an agreement about legal decision making or parenting time in Arizona, the judge in the case can order a professional child custody evaluation as per Rule 68 of the Rules of Family Procedure. Either parent can request that the other be evaluated, or the court can order an evaluation without any request.

These evaluations can be very valuable to the court because they are completed by licensed mental health professionals with experience in the parenting field. It is very difficult for a judge to evaluate a parent’s abilities, methods, attachment, and skills simply by the way they behave in a courtroom or through testimony in the case.

The custody evaluator meets with the parents and child or children individually and also in parent-child groups. He or she may also interview other family members, teachers or health care providers; review documents (such as school or medical records); or visit the parents’ homes. The evaluator may perform psychological testing on any of the parties in the case.

The evaluator does not act as a therapist for you or your child. Parents are usually ordered to pay for the cost of the evaluation. The evaluator usually provides a report and may testify in your trial.  The court does not have to follow the evaluator’s recommendations, but generally they are given great weight. The evaluator may offer information about:

  • A parenting plan that would be in the best interest of the child
  • The parents’ skills
  • Recommended therapy or parenting classes for parties
  • The relationships between each parent and the child
  • The psychological health of both parents and child
  • Substance abuse by parents

If an evaluation is ordered in your case, do your best to be friendly and cooperative with the evaluator. Do not tell your child what to say to the evaluator or offer bribes or rewards to the child in relation to this.

The Sampair Group provides divorce representation in Maricopa County, Arizona. We are here to answer your questions. Call us today to schedule an appointment.