Child Custody

Parenting plans are an issue in many family law cases and are not limited to divorce and legal separation cases. When parents are not married, it is first necessary to establish who the legal parents of a child are, through a paternity action. The biological father must sign an acknowledgement of paternity so he can exercise his parental rights. Once the legal parents are determined, it is necessary to establish a parenting plan in the best interest of your children, just as in a divorce or legal separation. In Tucson, our dedicated child custody attorneys are here to make sure your rights are firmly established and advocate on your behalf.

When it comes to your children, emotions run high, and the case can become even more contentious and litigious. There are two parts to child custody cases, which include legal decision-making and parenting time. A Tucson child custody attorney can help guide you through each part of the case. Historically, Arizona courts gave preference to mothers in custody actions, but over the years it has become a more gender-neutral state, focusing instead on the primary parenting functions performed by each parent and the relationship each parent has with the children. It is important to be able to describe your relationship with your children effectively and adequately and show the court why the arrangement you propose is in their best interests. Courts will often times defer to the status quo to increase the stability in the lives of your children to the greatest extent possible.

Parenting time, or physical custody, is the residential schedule for the children. One of the parents might be the primary residential parent, or the parents may share equal parenting time. The parenting time is divided into school schedule, summer schedule and holiday schedules. Because this is generally the most contested area in a family law case, Arizona mandates that parents attend mediation through Conciliation Court. It is important to give specific examples and details that exemplify activities you do with the children or your parenting skills. Having an experienced Tucson child custody attorney to assist you in the mediation process is strongly recommended.

The other part to child custody is the ability to participate in legal decision-making. Courts strive to maintain joint legal decision-making authority unless there is a reason to limit one parent’s involvement. Reasons to limit a parent in both parenting time and decision-making authority include domestic violence, substance abuse, alcoholism, or mental health issues. If one of these reasons exists in your case, it is important to explain how that issue has affected your family. It is important to remember that the court wants to implement a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the children and it relies on the information provided through the parties or their attorneys to make the best decision based on the facts presented. Our experienced Tucson child custody attorneys can help you navigate these issues through the Pima County Family Court system and come up with a custody arrangement that is best for your family.

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