Child Custody Attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona
Divorce is certainly a time of great stress and emotion, and if children are involved, the emotional stakes can rise exponentially. Who’s going to get primary custody? Will I ever get to spend quality time with my children again? How is custody decided? Will my voice be heard?
Anyone considering or undergoing divorce proceedings when children are involved will have questions like that flood their thoughts and emotions. The best part of it all is that you don’t have to let a family law judge decide everything for you. You and your spouse can propose your own custody and parenting time plan, so long as you can drop any grievances between the two of you and come up with a level-headed solution.
If you’re headed to divorce or already in the process in or around the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, contact the family law attorneys at Faussette & Faussette PLLC. We can help you negotiate a mutual child custody and parenting time arrangement that will help prevent courtroom battles over what happens to the children.
Likewise, if you’re already divorced and wondering if you can modify the current child custody parenting arrangement, contact us immediately. We can help you seek modifications through the legal system.
Divorce Law in Arizona
Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, which means that the basis for divorce need only be irreconcilable differences that have no hope of being resolved. You must have resided in the state for 90 days before filing for what Arizona calls “dissolution of marriage” rather than using the word “divorce.”
When children are involved in a dissolution of marriage, Arizona also shuns the word custody in favor of “legal decision-making,” meaning the custodial parent or parents (if jointly responsible) have the right to make decisions for their children, for instance, in education, social, medical, and other matters. The other spouse, if legal decision-making is not jointly awarded, will normally be allowed and assigned parenting time.
Establishing an Arrangement
for the Children
If you’re divorcing – and this is true with or without children – you have two choices when it comes to ironing out the details of the dissolution. You can fight it out in court before a judge, which is called a contested divorce, or you can work together to arrive at a mutually acceptable arrangement, including care for the children.
An uncontested divorce is certainly the least expensive of the two options, but it can run afoul of the spouses’ inability to work together because of bad feelings, grudges, or past history that makes a meeting of the minds difficult. If this is the case, it’s important to rely on an experienced family law attorney who can help the two of you iron out your differences. If need be, you can also call in the services of a professional mediator.
The alternative to an uncontested divorce when it comes to children is to allow a judge to hear both sides of the issue – the two parents’ opinions and possible grievances against one another – and then make the decision.
Judges in Arizona, as in every state, must consider what is in the best interests of the children in deciding custody and parenting time issues. Many factors will be taken into consideration, including, among others:
The past, present, and future relationship between each parent and each child
The child’s or children’s adjustment to their home, school, and community
The mental and physical state of each spouse and each child
Which parent would be more open to facilitating the child’s relationship with the other parent
Whether there has been any past history of domestic violence
The law states that the preference of the child or children should be taken into consideration if the child is of “sufficient age to form an intelligent preference,” though no age is specified. The judge is even allowed to interview each child in court chambers to see what their preferred custody and parenting time choices are.
At the end of the process, one parent may get sole decision-making (custody) and the other parenting time, or the two parents may be awarded joint decision-making.
Modifying a Custody Arrangement
Arizona law allows for the modification of custody and parenting time arrangements one year after the arrangement was ordered – sometimes earlier in emergency cases. Generally speaking, either parent can request the court to modify legal decision-making and parenting time arrangements if there are “substantial and continuing changes.”
The statute, however, does not clearly define what “substantial and continuing changes” might be, though changes in the income of either parent and changes in the time the children spend with each parent are common factors.
Another route to modifying an arrangement is if “the child’s present environment may seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.”
In either case, the process for seeking modification is to file a petition and supporting documents with the court.
Child Custody Attorneys Serving Phoenix, Arizona
Whether you’re just entering the divorce process, or you’ve finished your dissolution of marriage with a child custody plan in place that you wish to modify, contact the family law attorneys at Faussette & Faussette PLLC to discuss your situation and assess your options going forward. Faussette & Faussette PLLC serves clients throughout the Valley, its surrounding cities, and across Arizona, including Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, and Goodyear.