Divorce can be a stressful and frustrating process. We understand that you may be concerned about what it means and how it will affect you, your children, and your connection with them. But you should be aware that, as a responsible and loving father, you have plenty of legal rights in Arizona.
Is it true that mothers are automatically favored regarding custody?
In the not-so-distant past, mothers were stereotypically stay-at-home housewives who handled most of the parenting, while fathers worked outside the home to support the family financially. As a result, fathers were less present for day-to-day child-rearing obligations. In a custody dispute, the courts normally favored providing primary custody to the mother. When it came to custody choices and other difficulties in divorce, men had fewer rights.
Thankfully, times have changed. With both parents working and men playing a more active role in their children’s lives, the law has evolved to recognize the importance of a father’s presence in children’s lives. This understanding means that, unlike in the past, mothers are no longer automatically favored in custody battles and other legal disputes involving children.
How is custody determined?
Arizona Custody guidelines focus on the “best interests of the child” and custody decisions should be decided neutrally. That means that both parents (regardless of gender) must be given equal consideration, and the judge’s primary interest is what is best for your children.
In addition, in Arizona, you do not have to go to court to reach an agreement on child custody. Parents are actually encouraged to reach their own arrangement first with the assistance of their lawyers. You will save yourself — and maybe your children, depending on their ages — from the stress of court proceedings if you can reach an agreement outside the system.
Parenting time is one of your rights as a father in a divorce. While the phrase “visitation” is sometimes used, when it comes to divorce and custody in Arizona, the proper term used in our courts is “parenting time.” The statement emphasizes that the function is that of a parent, not a guest.
A parenting plan is a legal agreement between you and your ex that details parenting time and how you will co-parent after the divorce. In-depth schedules for the children can be included in parenting plans. They reveal who the children will spend significant holidays with or where the child will spend the summer. Fathers have as much as a right to parenting time as mothers do. The law takes any interference with custody and parenting time very severely. Penalties for interfering with these crucial parental rights vary according to the severity and might include compensating time with children, economic punishments, and even jail time.
Will I have to pay child support?
It’s fairly common for fathers to believe that they are automatically obligated to pay child support. This is not correct. Typically, the parent who spends the least amount of time with the children pays child support to the custodial parent. A skilled attorney can assist you in making judgments based on their experience, accurate data, and the law rather than incorrect assumptions, ensuring that you are not taken advantage of. And, if you are the custodial parent seeking child support, knowing exactly what you are owed helps ensure that your child receives the support they are entitled to from your ex.
Learn more with free resources
You can read more about Arizona father’s rights here. Our attorneys have also created various free help guides and handbooks, including one on Father’s Rights in Arizona Law. Years of hard work and extensive research have resulted in an in-depth guidebook that provides helpful access to Arizona’s statutes and case law governing divorces.
Why? We are committed to empowering our clients through advocacy and education. Divorce is stressful enough without worrying about the outcome being determined by complex and opaque guidelines. Stewart Law Group is here to lift the veil.