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.

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.

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.

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


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 to schedule a free consultation.

Chances of Troubled Father Getting Unsupervised Visitation or Modified Custody Rights?


Father has filed for modification of child support, joint custody and visitation: What are the chances of him getting unsupervised visitation?

I have two children. The father and I have established custody and child support but he lost custody due to drug abuse 6 years. He has never payed me a dollar through the system only a little here and there. He currently has supervised visitation which i would like to keep in place. He and his current wife have been arrested several times over the past several years for drunk and disorderly conduct. The wife just got out of tent city (4 month sentence) for violating probation by getting drunk, taking her clothes off and exposing herself in front of minors. They lost their apartment again. They now sleep on the floor of her moms home. What are the chances of him getting unsupervised visitation?


Based on the information you provided, it is very unlikely that the court will change the supervised visitation. It doers not sound like visitation in the environment that you described is in the children’s best interest. Perhaps it would be better for the children to see him at Parenting Skills, or another professional supervisor’s location. I would still suggest that you take a more aggressive stance regarding enforcement of the child support, and for several reasons.

Good luck!

Patrick Sampair
The Sampair Group, PLLC

Read more of Patrick Sampair’s answers on AVVO regarding Phoenix child custody, or if you have a question for Mr. Sampair ask him directly through The Sampair Group’s Family Law Facebook page.