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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!

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/.

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.

Questions from AVVO: Child Custody Documentation

Arizona child custody attorneyQuestion

If you submit the custody documentation to the court and need to make updates or revisions after the fact, is that possible? I am seeking joint parenting time and legal decision making for my oldest son. His mom and I were never married and my name was put on the birth certificate at the hospital. The last time I saw my son (3 weeks ago) he informed me his mom’s boyfriend just took a job in Pittsburgh so they are moving. He told me not until next year but I have a feeling they are in the process of moving already without telling me. Therefor I feel like I should get the paperwork started and have her served and get myself organized and obtain legal assistance immediately afterward. My concern is if I fill out something wrong on the first submission of documents that I will get stuck with what I wrote down. Since the documentation isn’t clear nor does it seem to apply to the new law I am uncertain how to proceed.

Patrick’s Answer

It is unclear how old your son is and how much time you have actually spent with him, both of which are factors, among other facts, that the court will take into consideration in determining Legal Decision-making and Parenting Time. Assuming there is no prior Custody/Legal Decision-making Order, the mother has no legal obligation to give you prior notice of her intent to relocate the child. Thus each day that goes by without action by you is a gamble. Likely if they are planning a move it will be after the school year is over (assuming your child is school age). The bottom line is you need to file the Petition for Legal Decision-making and Parenting Time ASAP. The filing and service of this paperwork will prevent her from relocating the child, without a Court Order, while the Petition is pending. If you are unsure how to fill out the initial paperwork, the case will only get harder for you as you proceed. Therefore I believe that you should contact a lawyer immediately and get an initial consultation. Many lawyers will give you a free initial consultation.

Child custody battles can be a stressful and traumatic time. Contact the experienced  attorneys at The Sampair Group today for more information. Visit www.sampair.com to schedule a free consultation.

My ex is not letting me talk with my children on the phone. We have joint custody and I live out of state. What can I do?

Question:

My ex is not letting me talk with my children on the phone. We have joint custody and I live out of state. What can I do?

My ex and I share joint custody, but he has primary placement. He currently lives in Wisconsin and I live in Arizona. Phone contact is the only way I have contact with them. It has been a month since I have spoken with them. He has a jealous girlfriend who interferes, so I’m only allowed to call during certain times. I’ve been calling daily and leaving messages, but I havn’t been able to talk with them. What can I do? Who should I contact to get help and get in touch with my kids?

Answer:

They are as much your kids as they are his. Interfering with your parental access is a serious issue and should be addressed through the courts right away.

I am unclear if your court orders are in AZ or WI, but in either case, you should consult with an attorney where the case is located. Most attorneys will provide a free consultation to discuss your options, although they will charge you if you decide to hire them to enforce your rights.

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/.

Can I get custody of my kids if my ex girlfriend’s boyfriend hits her and has a past record of domestic violence?

Question:

Can I get custody of my kids if my ex girlfriend’s boyfriend hits her and has a past record of domestic violence?

My kids (age 9 and 3) live with their mother. We were never married, so she has legal custody. I get my kids on the weekend. My kids mother recently got a boyfriend and she sent us pictures of her bruises and busted lip and called us to come get the kids, because he was hitting her. For about a month the kids have been staying with me or with my ex’s mother while she still stays with him. The kids start school in a few days and we don’t want them to be in that violent environment but my ex thinks it is ok, because her boyfriend is trying to change. What can we do I need help?

Answer:

You should file for Modification of Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time as the other attorney’s suggest. However I would also file for Temporary Orders on an expedited hearing basis. Unfortunately it appears that too much time has gone by to call this an emergency. However if you give the Judge a good reason, he may expedite the hearing on Temporary Orders which could result in an immediate change on a temporary basis until a more permanent solution is made.

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/.