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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!

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.

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.

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.

Three Steps To Coming Up With A Workable Visitation Schedule

As every parent knows, you can’t split a child in half. This means when a couple divorces, a workable child custody and parenting time schedule must be put in place. Gone are the days where mothers were granted sole custody with fathers being given visitation every other weekend, a few holidays, and a couple of weeks during the summer break from school. In today’s world, parents are sharing time equally with their children and participating in co-parenting activities at an increasing rate.

The Arizona statutes set forth the rules and procedures that are used in every divorce case. There are provisions regarding property distribution, powers of the Court, and all things relating to your kids. The laws are long and complex, but a quick three steps to coming up with a custody and visitation schedule that works includes:

  • Considering the preference of the child. This is appropriate when dealing with older, more mature children.
  • Taking a look at the ability of the custodial parent to provide for the financial needs of the kids.
  • Accounting for any special needs of the children, whether physically or emotionally.

In some cases both parents are equally qualified to provide care for the kids so the Court might enter an order of joint custody. Doing so will eliminate the need for payment of child support, since both parents are giving equal time to the children. When joint custody is not a possibility, liberal visitation is typically granted. When the parties work together to make decisions regarding important issues for their kids’ welfare the result is a happier, healthier child and a more harmonious living environment for everyone.

If you have questions about child custody and visitation, consult a qualified legal professional. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.

How to Write a Parenting Plan

Creating a parenting plan may feel like a daunting task, particularly if you and your ex don’t agree. The parenting plan is absolutely essential as it lays out your rights and responsibilities as you move forward and sets up a framework that allows your child to have a relationship and time with both of you.

Keep in mind that your parenting plan should detail all of your agreements about how you will share time with your child, so make sure everything is in writing.

When you first begin to consider how to organize your time, take a look at your schedules, where you live, where your child goes to school, and the activities your child has. It often makes sense to write out everyone’s schedule on a calendar so you can really see how it looks. You can maximize your respective time with your child by scheduling parenting time at times when you are each the most available. Having time while your child is at school or you are at work benefits neither you nor your child.

Try to minimize transfers if possible. Transporting your child back and forth becomes tiring for everyone, so longer times with each parent can help decrease that craziness. Make your lives easier by specifying exact transfer times and exactly how much leeway is going to be allowed. Set up a system for making changes to the plan and specify how changes must be requested and how far in advance.

Your parenting plan will affect your life and that of your child for many years to come, so it’s important to get it done right. The Sampair Group offers experienced help in creating parenting plans in the Glendale, Mesa, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Phoenix areas of Arizona. Call us now to make an appointment with one of our skilled attorneys.

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.

Do Divorced Parents Spell Divorce For The Kids Too?

Some things are just expected, like spotting a Starbucks on every corner. The coffeehouse chain has seemingly taken over the world, at least in the world of coffee and coffee-like whipped drinks. Whether you are a regular or not, there are those that would argue Starbucks is one of the best things to come out of Seattle in a long time. On the other hand, the town is well-known for some other pretty amazing things, like its music history and the band that led the grunge movement, Nirvana. It is no secret the life of Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain was cut short by his own hand, and that it happened when his daughter with ex-wife Courtney Love was not even two years old. Ever since the news broke that Cobain had taken his own life, both Love and daughter Frances Bean have been in the spotlight. Part of the hype around the two centered on the tumultuous relationship between Cobain and Love during their short marriage.
While it likely comes as no surprise that Cobain and Love’s marriage lasted just over two years, given their celebrity status, it may also come as no surprise that Frances Bean is now in the middle of her own divorce just 21 months after tying the knot. This news raises a frequent question, whether you are a celebrity or not, and that is whether children of divorce are themselves more likely to get divorced as well. Here are some common schools of thought on the topic:

  • When kids see their parents split, the example that is set has lasting effects. The way you resolve conflict with your spouse during your divorce shapes the way your children view conflict resolution as adults. It is best to set a good example, and behave in a way that you would want to see your kids behave. If you are having difficulty accomplishing this goal, it is perfectly fine to seek the help of a trained counselor or therapist. When you are able to resolve your differences without fighting, your kids will learn that divorce does not have to be a dirty word and that just because their parents ended their marriage, they are not destined for the same ending.
  • Kids are resilient and regardless of how much conflict there is during their parents divorce, it is just as important to maintain a good relationship with your ex after the divorce is final. Just as there are those that encourage amicable resolution and then lives apart after divorce, there is also the thought that being able to include your ex in significate events without fighting is just as important. Showing your kids you can get along with your ex will show them that even though marriages end, friendships and mutual respect can remain. This could help your children when entering relationships of their own, and may allow them to find solutions that do not include divorce.

The truth is that everyone is different, and you have to find ways to work through your divorce case that make sense for you. That said, one of the most important parts of a divorce with kids is finding ways to make sure your children’s lives remain as normal as possible and that the kids are not put in the middle of the case. Our job is to help you reach results that work for you, but that also leave your family emotionally healthy. If you have concerns about how your divorce will impact your kids and their future, call us for answers.

If you have questions about divorce, 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.