Child custody is one of the most emotionally charged issues that arise during a divorce. It affects the lives of the children involved, as well as the parents. A qualified Phoenix AZ child custody lawyer can help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights as a parent are protected.
The best child custody lawyer in Phoenix AZ knows how to build a winning case. The first step is to have a thorough understanding of what types of custody are available in your state. You can find this information from online resources, but you should also speak with a qualified Phoenix child custody attorney who can explain the laws in your area and how they apply to your unique situation.
Some states have a presumption that both parents should share joint legal custody of the children. This means that both parents are responsible for making decisions about the child’s life, including education, religion, and health care. In shared custody situations, the child usually lives with each parent for roughly the same amount of time. This arrangement is often seen as the best for children, but it’s not always possible or practical. For example, it may be difficult for both parents to agree on a school district or religious training for the child.
In other situations, it may be necessary to award sole legal custody to one parent. This is often the case when there are issues with one parent, such as domestic violence, drug abuse, or serious criminal charges. A judge will examine these circumstances and the history of the child custody arrangements to make a decision. The noncustodial parent will still have visitation rights.
Physical custody is another factor to consider. This is the actual care and control of the child on a daily basis. Typically, one parent will be awarded primary physical custody while the other parent will have access to the child on a regular basis. This can be done in different ways, but most courts consider it important for a child to have considerable access to both parents.
A judge will usually only allow a child to decide their own custody arrangement when the child is of a certain age and has reached a level of intelligence and maturity. The court will then evaluate the child’s preferences to determine whether it is in their best interests. For example, a child may say that they want to live with their father because they have a close relationship with him and that is what makes them happy. If the judge feels that this is not in the child’s best interests, they will usually grant sole physical and legal custody to the mother. The father will only have weekend visits with the child and must return the child on time. If he does not, the judge can appoint a guardian ad litem to take control of the case. This will require both parents to provide evidence such as letters from friends and teachers that show a positive, loving relationship between the child and the father.