Divorce is never easy, but when a divorce involves children and the dissolution of a family unit, emotions quickly become heated. A similarly distressing issue arises between unmarried parents who’ve had a child together and are no longer in a relationship. Family courts in Arizona prioritize the child’s best interests in all decisions, but divorcing parents often have conflicting ideas about what is in their child’s best interest. Unmarried parents may also have misgivings and legal questions about child custody and their parental rights.
If you’re facing divorce with child custody issues in Anthem or you’re an unmarried parent seeking custody or visitation rights, the Arizona child custody attorneys in Anthem are ready to help. Call or contact Stewart Law Group today for a case consultation about this critical issue so we can begin a strong strategy to protect your rights and your child’s best interests.
How Can a Anthem Child Custody Attorney Child Custody Attorney Help?
Arriving at a fair and amicable child custody agreement is the legal and emotional ideal in a child custody case. Unfortunately, strong feelings on both sides often make this ideal challenging to obtain. If you’re facing child custody decisions in Anthem Child Custody Attorney or the surrounding area in Maricopa County, the Anthem child custody lawyers at Stewart Law Group are ready to help. At Stewart Law, we offer the following advantages to those seeking a resolution for pending child custody decisions:
Understanding the Legal Framework
At Stewart Law, our experienced child custody attorneys have a thorough understanding of Arizona’s legal framework for child custody decisions so we can work within that structure to achieve the best possible outcome for your child custody goals. Arizona courts begin with the presumption that joint physical and legal custody is in a child’s best interests. If you feel this isn’t the case in your situation, our skilled legal team can help you to demonstrate that to the court.
Establishing a Suitable Custody Arrangement
The attorneys at Stewart Law take a resolution-based approach to child custody arrangements and are ready to resolve conflicts between you and your spouse or co-parent with many options for workable parenting time plans.
Presenting Your Case in Court
If you and your spouse are unable to resolve your custody dispute with the help of your Anthem child custody lawyers and mediation, we’re more than ready to argue your case to the best advantage in court. Our attorneys have a results-oriented approach to litigation in Arizona divorce and child custody cases. Your Anthem divorce attorney from the Stewart Law Group will ensure that you’re completely prepared for the courtroom process. We will help you to present your arguments in a clear, precise manner to the judge for the best possible outcome in your Anthem child custody case.
Modifying and Enforcing Child Custody Orders
Many clients come to Stewart Law Group with existing custody orders because they seek a modification of the order due to changed circumstances. If you or your ex-spouse or co-parent have had a significant change in your situation since your initial child custody court order, we can bring the matter to court and demonstrate to a judge that a modification of child custody orders is in your child’s best interests.
Handling Matters Related to Child Support
Child custody judgments in Arizona courts also come with child support orders. The Anthem child support lawyers at Stewart Law can help navigate all child support matters, including determining the correct amount under the state’s guidelines for an initial order, modifying an existing order, or enforcing child support orders.
Child custody laws in Arizona come with many nuances as well as laws and regulations. The attorneys at Stewart Law Group have a deep understanding of the complexities of this system. Our resolution-based approach and passion for safeguarding your child’s best interests means we are a team of strong problem-solvers who avoid unnecessary litigation but don’t hesitate to take the matter before a judge to defend your rights. We take a tailored approach to every case with the understanding that each child custody case is unique, and one-size-fits-all parenting schedules may not be in your child’s best interests.
Anthem, Arizona’s Best Interests of the Child Standard
In Arizona, the courts do not favor mothers or fathers in child custody decisions. Instead, the court makes all decisions in the best interests of the child. This standard begins with the presumption that joint custody is in a child’s best interests and that frequent, continued close, and continued contact with both parents is ideal. However, this standard for child custody is rebuttable—meaning both parents have the right to present evidence and testimony to the courts to show that their desired child custody outcome is in the child’s best interests rather than the standard joint custody arrangement of 50/50 shared parenting time.
According to child custody laws in Arizona, a judge must consider any arguments that are relevant to a “child’s physical and emotional well-being.” This includes any of the following factors:
- A child’s past, present, and future relationship with each parent
- Each child’s relationship and accustomed daily interactions with each parent and sibling in the home
- Each child’s unique adjustment and connection to their home, community, extended family, and school
- The child’s wishes if they are of an appropriate age and maturity to meaningfully express their preferences in parenting time and legal decision-making
- The physical and mental health of both parents and all involved
- Each parent’s willingness to support the other parent’s continued close and meaningful contact with the child
In addition to the above standards for the court’s decisions in the best interests of the child, the law compels a judge to consider any allegations of child neglect or abuse, or a child’s witnessing of domestic violence in a custody case.
If one parent intentionally misleads the court in order to sway a custody decision to their own preference or to delay the process, the judge carefully considers those actions in making a final decision on custody.
At Stewart Law, we have deep compassion for parents facing challenging circumstances in their child custody cases. Our highest priority is to safeguard your child’s best interests throughout the Arizona child custody process and in the judge’s final custody decision.
Understanding Physical and Legal Child Custody
Like other states, Arizona breaks down child custody rulings into two categories, legal decision-making custody and physical custody:
- Physical custody refers to which parent a child lives with
- Legal custody refers to which parent has the right to make important decisions for the child such as medical decisions, educational choices, religious decisions, travel decisions, and decisions on extra-curricular activities
An Arizona family court judge may rule on any combination of legal and physical custody that they determine to be in the child’s best interests.
How is Child Custody Determined in Anthem?
Courts in Anthem and throughout Arizona make a case-by-case determination in all child custody decisions, beginning with the presumption that joint physical and legal custody is in a child’s best interests. When parents disagree with that presumption, they have the legal recourse to present evidence to demonstrate that joint custody isn’t in their child’s best interest in their unique case. The child custody process in Anthem works as follows:
- Both parents hire divorce attorneys with experience in navigating challenging child custody cases.
- Parents open a child custody case in Anthem either by one spouse filing for divorce or legal separation or by unmarried parents filing for a parenting plan, child support orders, and paternity testing (if required).
- The court serves the other parent with an official notification about the case either through certified mail or in person.
- The other parent responds to the petition. If they agree with all terms, the case is uncontested. If they disagree with one or more terms, it becomes a contested case and moves ahead with the court decision-making process.
- Each parent must take a parenting class to gain insight into the impacts of custody decisions on children.
- One parent may request a temporary orders hearing to promptly address any immediate needs for a temporary child custody arrangement and/or child support orders. The temporary orders only remain in place until the final judgment.
- Both parents and their attorneys enter the “discovery” phase in which both sides must disclose all evidence and may request documents.
- Both parents attend one or more resolution-management conferences together with their Anthem child custody attorneys to attempt to resolve disputes, including child custody disagreements. Often a skilled family law facilitator mediates these conferences and may suggest resolutions that the parents might otherwise not have considered. If the parents cannot reach a mutually agreeable parenting time and legal decision-making agreement, the child custody case must go before a judge to decide during the final hearing.
- The court may order evaluations, parenting conferences, further mediation, or court-appointed advisors in complex cases.
- At the trial, both parents and their attorneys present evidence and question witnesses to argue for their desired child custody outcomes.
- The judge issues the final child custody orders and child support obligation.
The Importance of Legal Decision Making, Parenting Time, and a Parenting Plan
When approaching a judge with a specific goal in mind for the outcome of a child custody case, it’s essential to understand the importance of having a workable plan for parenting time and legal decision-making for your child or children so you and your attorney can effectively present your case. At Stewart Law Group, we understand how judges in Anthem custody cases think and how they process the information presented to them. Working within the state’s outline for what the court considers in the best interests of children helps our attorneys present each client’s case in the best possible light to a deciding judge.
Today’s Arizona courts refer to child custody and visitation as “parenting time.” An effective parenting time plan to present in court should reflect the following:
- Careful consideration of the child’s age and maturity
- The emotional closeness and attachment of the child to each parent
- Whether or not the child has any special needs
- A child’s relationship with siblings, extended family members, school, and their community
- The distance between the residences of both parents
- The flexibility of each parent and child’s schedules
- Childcare arrangements
- How and where to make child exchanges between parents
- The willingness of each parent to facilitate a close relationship with the other parent
- How well parents can communicate and compromise
- Any specific cultural and religious practices of each parent and child
Arizona offers a range of suggestions for shared parenting time schedules that can work for nearly any family situation. Approaching the judge with a well-executed parenting plan, thoughtfully presented arguments for legal decision-making custody, and a workable parenting time schedule greatly increases the chance of gaining a favorable child custody decision.
Requesting a Modification of Existing Child Custody Schedules in Anthem
Arizona family courts understand that circumstances change and sometimes a modification of existing orders for parenting time and legal decision-making custody are in order. Parents may also request emergency temporary orders under specific circumstances while the modification is pending in court. A modification of existing child custody orders may be suitable in the following situations:
- Allegations of child neglect, child abuse, or domestic violence situations
- A substantial change in a parent’s physical or emotional health
- A parent’s relocation
- One parent’s failure to follow child custody orders
- A significant increase or decrease in income
A child custody attorney in Anthem from Stewart Law Group is ready to step in to help you with any issue requiring a modification of your existing child custody order.
Call the Anthem Child Custody Lawyers at Stewart Law Group Today
Whether you’re facing a divorce with children, seeking a modification of existing child custody or child support orders, or you’re an unmarried parent requiring a workable parenting time arrangement or seeking sole custody due to child neglect, domestic abuse, or other factors, the Anthem child custody attorneys at Stewart Law are ready to take on your family law case as though it’s our own. We cover all your family law needs with open communication and individualized representation. We understand the critical importance of how you raise your children. We take that understanding into all of our legal counsel for clients facing child custody matters in Arizona courtrooms.
Reach out to the child custody attorneys at our Anthem office today so an Anthem family law attorney from Stewart Law Group can begin a strong legal strategy tailored to your unique circumstances.