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Making the Most Out of Supervised Visitation (Part 1)

child custody attorney ArizonaUnder certain circumstances, a non-custodial parent will receive visitation and parenting time with their child, but often this visitation is supervised under court order. Common reasons for supervised visits include fear of potential abuse, or to monitor the supervision if there has been a long gap since the parent and child have seen each other.

For many involved in the situation of supervised mediation, it can be constraining. But if you are a non-custodial parent with supervised visitation with your child, there are ways you can make the most of it.

In supervised visitation, someone is present during all of your visiting hours with your child. While this may seem restricting and uncomfortable at times, it means that someone is there to testify your good parenting skills and the bond you are forming with the children. These testimonials could show the court that you are not a danger to your children to establish your credibility in court.

One of the ways you can improve the outcomes of your parenting time is to be 15-20 minutes early for every visit. This proves that you have made your child a priority in your life and want to spend the maximum time available with your children. If transportation is an issue with getting to your visits, make sure you schedule all of this way ahead of time to be prepared.

Just as important as showing up early is attending every single visit. Sometimes, life happens and it may be impossible for you to attend a visitation. But don’t miss too many, as it looks bad on your part. Attending every visit shows that the child is your priority.

Use your visitations to correct any bad behaviors that may be presumed of your from the court’s concerns. If the court felt that alcohol abuse was a concern, show up sober and well-kept to every visitation. If you are taking prescription medication, make sure the supervisor is aware of this. If your temper was a concern during your child custody discussions with the court, keep your calm and do not get a temper with your children, the supervisor or the other parent.

Continued in Part 2

Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Family Life

child custody, Arizona attorneyOppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is one of the most common behavioral disorders young children. Approximately 23% of children have the matching symptoms of a behavior disorder by the time they reach 16 years of age.

ODD can lead to worse disorders and can cause children to act increasingly angry and violent. It can even lead to sociopathic or criminal personality tendencies.

The Onset of ODD
ODD is mostly diagnosed during the ages of 6 to 10. However, symptoms may appear at a younger age, and may not show themselves until a child has reached puberty.

ODD is the consequence of anger that has accumulated in childhood that has never been resolved for one reason or another. Selfishness and a desire to control parents, siblings, and other children is also a factor in the development of ODD.

The Consequences of ODD
The consequences of ODD can be dire. Manifestations of the disorder can harm a child’s family life, friendships, and academic performance. There is a degree of overlap in the affects in ODD and can have drastically negative aspects in multiple areas in the life of a child.

A study with over 600 participants from the Department of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School found that children with ODD had trouble in social adjustment, and problems with peers at school. There is also a higher level of poor cohesion and higher levels of conflict within the family unit.

Anger in Children of Divorce
Divorce can take a toll on a child’s behavior, and conflict and excessive anger in divorced families may lead to ODD. Stepchildren may also develop resentment toward their biological parents which is difficult to channel. Children may hide or even deny this anger, but it will emerge in times of great stress. This is why it is so important that parents considering divorce do the best to keep children informed and nurtured.

For more information regarding how your divorce is affecting your children and how you can best approach the situation with minimal negative effects, contact the child custody attorneys at The Sampair Group. Visit www.sampair.com for a free consultation today.

Proposed Law Could Create Big Changes in Arizona Child Custody Laws

Divorced parents may soon find new legal battles to face due to legislation awaiting action by the Arizona Senate. SB1038 is a proposed bill that would eliminate the existing laws that allow a parent that has custody of a child to move up to 100 miles away. SB1038 could result in swift court action before any move of any distance is considered.

There is an already existing 20-year old law that allows a court to consider whether or not a move would be in a parent’s best interest – a law that SB1038 would eliminate. Instead, a judge would be limited to only considering what is best for the child.

Those in support of the proposed bill claim that the current law allows a parent to move unchecked, as long as it is within 100 miles, but some parents may move less than 100 miles away, but multiple times, putting them beyond the limit with no court interference. They say that the change will eliminate any kind of “sneaking away” from a noncustodial parent, thus allowing the noncustodial parent to spend more quality time with the child.

This who oppose the bill are concerned that the chance will make things difficult in a legal sense for custodial parents. If passed, SB1038 would require a 45-day notice of any potential move. This could result in the custodial parents finding themselves in a position where they are forced to break the law if they are unable to find adequate housing for them and their child in an area that fits the law’s parameter allowance. This could especially happen if they must be out of their current residence within a 30-day period.

This law is the first legislation to update Arizona child custody and parenting laws in 20 years. If you have children and are divorced and are concerned about how the new law may impact your situation, consult with a Glendale child custody attorney at The Sampair Group. Visit us at www.sampair.com for more information.

Budgeting for Child Support

Whether you are the one paying or receiving child support each month, budgeting this money is especially important since it is for your child’s life.

Spend Wisely
There are no laws or court orders that say how your child support must be spent, but it makes sense for everyone to spend it wisely. Never spend child support money on purchases for yourself that don’t benefit the child. For one, this isn’t the purpose of the child support in the first place, and second, if you ex finds out that their money is going toward purchases that only benefit you, this argument could get pretty messy in court.

Create A Budget
Especially if you receive child support money inconsistently each month, it’s important to make a monthly budget based on your income alone. This will help you determine where any extra money, including child support, needs to go after expenses are initially covered by your income. Child support is still money for your child, but you may find that you can put it aside for their future such as groceries next month or their education. Do not count the child support money as income.

Make Estimates
Estimate what you spend each month on your children, including housing, food, education, medical expenses, and other activities. Always keep a copy of this estimate on hand for the court and your ex-spouse, so you can show with integrity how much the child is costing you per month and how the child support amount is or is not helping fulfill those needs.

Establish Payments
If you are the one making the child support payments, be consistent. Establish a regular method of payment so you know when the money is coming out of your accounts and so your ex-spouse knows when they will be getting the money. Always try your best to make the full payments, and if you can’t, contact the court immediately letting them know this so you can avoid any penalties.

Modification
You have the right, as the payor or the payee, to request modification to your child support order if certain circumstances have changed. This could include job change/loss, medical emergency, etc. Even if your request is not granted, it will still be on record with the court.

Child custody and child support agreements can be tough to work around after a divorce. For legal assistance, contact the Glendale child custody attorneys at The Sampair Group. Visit us today at www.sampair.com for more information and a free consultation today.

Should I Adopt My Stepchild?

These days, it’s very common for second marriages to take place after a divorce, and a lot of them result in blended families, meaning each spouse in the new marriage has brought together a child or children from previous marriages or relationships to live in one household together. In some cases, the bond between a stepparent and stepchild can grow strong, especially if the biological parent is minimally involved or non-existent in the child’s life.

When a stepparent is taking over full-time responsibility for their stepchild and has formed a positive, strong bond with that child, they may consider adopting their stepchild and make the relationship more formal than just a title. There are many benefits to doing this.

When a stepparent legally adopts their stepchild, they then have legal standing in the child’s life and are not challenged if they try and make legal decisions for the child, especially if the other parent is unable to. After adopting their stepchild, that parent now has all of the rights that a biological parent would have.

Adopting your stepchild also gives the child a sense of permanency, no matter how old they are. This solidification can reassure them that along with their biological parents, they now have another person that can legally look over them in and be in their lives. This also includes financial security for the child, and they become the dependents of the parent.

The greatest benefit of adopting your stepchild is the sense of unity that comes with it. For a child that has been through a divorce between their biological parents, a sense of family is very beneficial to their lives, and adopting them can be a very positive and symbolic gesture to make for your new family.

When children are extremely young (babies, toddlers) adopting them that early in their lives may not fully impact them. However, if the child is older, it’s a good idea to sit down with the entire family and have a discussion about the idea of adoption. Explain to your children what that means for them and the rest of the family, and get their opinions on it. Reassure them that this means no disrespect for their biological parent, but simply means that you are committed to their care and protection by you.

For more information on child custody and adoption of your stepchild, contact Glendale child custody attorneys at The Sampair Group. Visit us at www.sampair.com for a free consultation today.

Glendale Divorce Lawyers Help You Navigate Visitation Disputes

Even after the court has implemented a custody agreement in divorce cases, there can still be stress and conflict between each parent. Phoenix family law attorneys at The Sampair Group know that it is common for this to happen, and there are many practical tips that those going through a divorce should consider when faced with this kind of conflict.

1. Always document any conversation, violations, or any other situations surrounding your custody or visitation disputes. If there are repeat violations, keeping them documented will show a pattern of this behavior and you will then be able to use court action to enforce the order. If there is any reason that you feel a child should not be attending visitation, you must document and justify these reasons (i.e. abuse, neglect) and contact your attorney, who will then help you handle the situation in the best way possible before involving the court.

2. If you are going to contact the police in regards to visitation interference, do so with discretion. Each time the police are contacted and respond to the situation, take note and documentation of the visit from law enforcement and keep in your records. Request a copy of all reports issues by law enforcement. In any case of calling the police, use discretion when doing so to minimize any harmful impact on the children.

3. Always have on you a copy of your visitation and child custody orders. Keep them readily accessible, as it is the first document a police officer will request from you if they are responding to a visitation conflict.

4. Whatever you do, do not involve your children in a way that they will be negatively affected by your visitation and child custody disputes. Avoid discussing the dispute in front of or with your children. As a parent, you should be shielding them from the conflict, not bringing them into it.

As with any custody dispute, you should try your best to remain civil and focused, as your goal should be to meet the best interests of the child. For more information about child custody and other family law conflict resolutions, visit The Sampair Group today at https://www.sampair.com/firm-overview/child-custody/.

Examining The Term ‘Best Interests of the Child’

Best Interests of the ChildIn Arizona, the court awards child custody in accordance with circumstances that comply with the “best interests of the child.” There are many factors that determine a child’s best interest, whether it has to do with family, community, and/or the physical and mental health of the child.

Some of the factors that the Arizona court will consider are:
– the custody wishes of the parents
– the wishes of the child as to their custodian
– the interaction and relationship of the child with the parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest
– the child’s adjustment to home, school and community
– the mental and physical health of all individuals involved and how this affects the child
– which parent is more likely to allow the child to have a meaningful and frequent relationship with the other parents
– if a parent has provided primary care of the child
– if either parent has used coercion or duress in order to obtain a custody agreement
– if either parent has been convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect
– if there has been any cases of domestic violence or child abuse

Joint Custody (Parenting Time)
Arizona judges cannot prefer one type of custody over another (joint vs. sole custody), but are obligated to make decisions based primarily on the best interests of the child. Even if one parent objects to it, the judge can grant joint custody if it is in the child’s best interest.

The factors for determining if joint custody is in the child’s best interest are:
– whether the parents have agreed to joint custody
– whether joint custody is logically feasible
– whether the parents will be likely to cooperate in decision making that comes with joint custody (visitation, child support, etc.)

Arizona courts are prohibited from awarding joint custody if there is a finding of significant domestic violence between the parties responsible for the guardianship of the child. After considering the safety and well being of the child, as well as the victim of domestic violence and the abusers history of causing domestic violence, the court will make a reputable presumption that awarding custody to the parent committing the domestic violence would not be in the best interest of the child. As a result, that parent must prove that an award of custody and parenting time will not endanger or harm the child, nor will it impair the child’s emotional development. If both parents have committed an act of domestic violence, this presumption will not exist.

Following Arizona law, there is no presumption in favor of joint vs. sole custody, and all decisions made are governed by the best interest of the child. If you are concerned that you may lose custody of your child, or wish to gain custody of a child to protect and care for them, contact a Phoenix child custody attorney at The Sampair Group today. Our experienced attorneys will evaluate the conditions of your case and represent individuals throughout the valley with locations in Phoenix, Glendale and Mesa.

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Grandparents Custody and Visitation Rights in Arizona

Today, more and more grandparents are seeking visitation or custody of their grandchildren for a number of reasons. In Arizona, the law recognizes the rights to custody or access with children for non-parents under certain circumstances.

There are two forms of non-parental access to children through family law court: grandparents’ rights, and in loco parentis rights.

Grandparent’s Rights
Grandparents or great-grandparents may be granted “reasonable visitation” if it is decided to be in the best interest of the child and if one of the following applies:
– the parents of the child have been divorced for at least three months
– a parent is deceased or absent for at least three months
– the parents of the child are unmarried

The court will determine these factors and examine the relationship between the child and the grandparents, the motivations of the grandparents and parents in requesting or denying visitation, the impact the visitation will have on the child’s family, and, if a parent is deceased, the relationship between the child and that part of its extended family.

In Loco Parentis Rights
A non-parent can be granted visitation of their grandchild if they stand in loco parentis (in place of a parent) to a child. This access is granted if the person seeking visitation has been established as being treated as a parent by the child and has formed a healthy parental relationship with the child for a substantial period of time.
In order for a non-parents to receive this type of visitation, the parents of the child must not be married or in the process of a divorce. Another requirement is that one parent must be deceased or absent.

It is not easy to get custody a child that is not yours. The best way to start gaining access to a grandchild is through peaceful means. The law recognizes a constitutional right to parent as well as choose who their child associates with. It is essential to talk to a Phoenix divorce lawyer at The Sampair Group today to discuss your legal options on how to get grandparent’s visitation rights. Grandparent’s looking into custody or visitation of grandchildren should also consider mediation as part of the process to keeping a positive relationship in the family so the best interests of the child are met.

You can still be on the hook for your ex-spouse’s debt after divorce

If you have just ended a marriage or are considering filing for divorce, it is important to take into consideration the following word: Debt. If your spouse has racked up any amount of debt, you can be held liable for payments, no matter whose name the debt is in.
Phoenix resident Dolores Ferguson knows exactly what this is like after discovering that she is responsible for $2,000 in payday loan debt that she says is not hers.

Even though she signed a prenuptial agreement, Ferguson still received a court order garnishing her wages.

Too often, prenuptial agreements are misunderstood. While much debt that is accrued pre-marriage is covered through the prenuptial agreement, some federal debt loans such as student loans or payday loans are not subject to these agreements. Also, if there are any joint accounts in you and your spouse’s name, you are responsible for any debt from these accounts if your spouse does not pay.

Glendale Family Law attorneys at The Sampair Group know that there are many ways to avoid being on the hook for your ex-spouse’s debt after a divorce.

The first precaution to take is to know your debt. Be organized with all of your accounts including all personal loans and major credit cards. Before any more charges are racked up, it would be best to close or freeze any joint accounts. You should also get your credit score from all appropriate credit reporting agencies so you can keep track of any unexpected changes in this score. Keep up with these credits checks to make sure no additional charges are made on frozen accounts.

Throughout the divorce proceedings, do not neglect any bills that your name is attached to, even if you make minimum payments. If you find that your ex isn’t paying any of the bills on their part even after the divorce has been finalized, you may still have to make the minimum payments in order to avoid hurting your credit. Even before the divorce is finalized, make sure everything is paid for that has your name attached to it.

Another option, while it may not seem the most appealing, is to consider is filing for bankruptcy. This will discharge most of what you owe and make it possible to clear out any debt you have that has been incurred by your spouse. It is best to do this before you end the marriage rather than several months later so it can be a joint clearing of debt. If one spouse declares bankruptcy, more often than not it means the other party will have to declare as well since any credit card companies or other debtor will come after both parties for the payment, despite any reasons for your divorce.

If you are thinking of initiating a divorce and are concerned about being responsible for your spouse’s debt, a Phoenix divorce lawyer at The Sampair Group can help you with the necessary steps for your rights during the process.