Phoenix Child Custody Lawyers

child custody lawyer phoenix
The resolution of Phoenix child custody and visitation disputes requires parents to act rationally in their child’s best interests at a time when they are often facing overwhelming stress. Knowledgeable advice and skilled representation from an experienced Phoenix child custody lawyer can assist you in your pursuit of a fair custody arrangement. The attorneys at Stewart Law Group represent mothers and fathers, divorcing parents, relocating parents, and unmarried parents on the full range of legal issues relating to child custody and visitation as well as divorce in Phoenix, Arizona.

Custody is split into two parts, physical and legal. The court determines or approves physical and legal custody arrangements for each child.

Physical custody: The actual living arrangements of the child and the rights and responsibilities associated with daily childcare.

Legal custody: The right to make decisions about the child’s education, healthcare and religion.

Read our Child Custody Basics article to learn more about determining custody arrangements. 

Physical and legal child custody can be apportioned in several ways.

Sole custody: When sole physical custody of the child is awarded or agreed upon, one parent has the right to have the child live primarily with him or her. That parent is then known as the custodial parent and the other parent becomes the non-custodial parent. Sole physical and legal custody generally only occurs when there are concerns about the other parent relating to drug or alcohol abuse, child abuse or neglect, criminal history, domestic violence or mental health problems. In such instances, the non-custodial parent may be limited to restricted or supervised visitation.

Joint custody: Joint custody is the most common form of custody in Arizona. In joint custody, parents share responsibility for major decision-making and/or physical control and custody of the children. Parents with joint physical custody usually share legal custody, but joint legal custody does not necessarily imply joint physical custody. Parents need to be able to work together in the rearing of their children when they have joint legal custody.

What happens when we cannot agree?

When the parents cannot come to an agreement, then the court will decide the custody matters for them. The judge considers a range of factors including the child’s age, the time each parent spends with the child, the stability of the parents, any child abuse and neglect, any drug or alcohol problems, and more. In other words, a significant part of your life will become evidence in determining your future parenting opportunities — the parents’ past history may be used to predict future behavior.

On what basis does the judge make a decision regarding child custody?

The court will make its custody decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child. The judge has broad discretion in deciding custody matters and will weigh many factors. Your Phoenix child custody attorney will be able to explain this process fully.

Making Custody Determinations in the Best Interest of the Child

Child custody in Arizona is best settled by voluntary agreement between the parents, and the relatively low number of child custody disputes decided in the courtroom reflects that. The parents know it, the attorneys know it, the judge knows it, and the family court process encourages it. There is a lot to consider, of course, when it comes to making custody decisions. There are practical matters, financial considerations, and emotional realities as well as the child centric basis. To help you along, here are a few answers to frequently asked questions about custody matters as well as some of the governmental guidelines.

Child Custody Modifications in Arizona

Once custody has been established through agreement or court order, parents may seek court involvement to modify the established arrangement. To support a modification request, the parent seeking the modification must show a substantial change in circumstances. A modification request made within less than one year of the original custody determination will only be considered by the court if the child is endangered by the custody arrangement. Additionally, states that follow the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act will only consider requests for modification if they occur in the state in which a child has an established residence, in order to prevent forum shopping and custody-motivated child removals.

How can you improve your chances of gaining custody?

Remember that it is never too late to become a good parent and a better parent. But if your actions have been less than model, then modify your less desirable behavior with respect to the child. Do additional things to improve your parenting skills and your reliability. Start making those positive changes immediately and keep improving yourself. Recent, more extensive involvement with your child, for instance, may help balance out a history of infrequent closeness or absenteeism in the child’s life. has a number of guides to help you become more involved.

Can the child decide which parent to live with?

In Arizona, a minor child is not allowed to choose which parent he or she wants to live with. Children do not always know what is best for them and they frequently change their minds. Furthermore, making such an important decision puts too much pressure on the child. That is not to say, however, that the child’s desires are ignored. The child’s wishes for the residential parent are a factor to be considered, but are not determinative.

Contact a Child Custody Expert Today

For more information regarding custody guidelines in Arizona, contact your nearest law office today! Stewart Law Group has experienced and caring child custody attorneys in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler, Glendale, Mesa, Peoria, Tempe & Gilbert. Our legal team is committed to providing all of our clients with the highest quality of representation. To speak with one of our family lawyers or schedule a confidential consultation with an attorney, call 602-548-3400, fill out our online contact form or email your question to and we will respond quickly and discretely.

Certainly no one wants to go through a divorce, but I am so grateful to my attorney, Robert Howard and the rest of the team at Stewart Law Group for their care, support, and professional legal work in resolving my case. From the very beginning, I was provided with resources that educated me about the process, protecting my interests, and relieving a great deal of fear and anxiety. I received sound advice at every step, and communication was great! I would recommend Robert Howard and the Stewart Law Group to anyone who finds themselves faced with the end of their more
Joseph Fagan
16:09 09 Feb 18
My attorney Fred Ruotolo and his paralegal assistant Erica were great! They worked hard throughout my case and they were available any time for any questions that I may have had. When I first talked to Fred about my case, he was firm and honest with me, not like any other attorney who only tell you what you want to hear. I will highly reccomend Fred Ruotolo to anyone. One of a kind man and more
Danny Alvarez
22:29 04 Jan 18
Having Fred Ruotolo and his paralegal Erica Iglesias-Diaz in my corner for my recent post-divorce issues has turned a very stressful and intense situation into a manageable and successful resolution. Both Fred and Erica were not only highly skilled and professional but they were also very caring, kind, and understanding. Let's face it, pre and post-divorce issues can be highly charged and cause a lot of anxiety and stress. Having confidence in your legal team is a must. Fred and Erica made me feel that not only did they have best interest in mind, but also my kids’ best interest. They never made me feel like I was just a client, or a paycheck to them...They made every effort to truly understand my situation and to help me reach a resolution that was low in both conflict and my out of pocket expenses at every step of the way. Everyone knows divorce is expensive and stressful, having Fred and Erica on your side gives you the confidence that your money is being spent in the right places and that they really do care about the outcome for you and your family. I would highly recommend Stewart Law Group (and specifically Fred and Erica) to anyone wanting to work with a team that is truly focused on building a relationship with their clients and taking as much stress out of the situation as possible. Finally, I also have to say Jennifer Ward, the Client Coordinator for Stewart Law Group is a godsend. She is who answered a very distressed and panicked phone call from me when all of this started. She is Friendly, Professional, and very personable. Her kind and calm demeanor was invaluable to me at a very stressful time. She wasn't judgmental at all as I explained my situation. It seems that Stewart Law Group hires only the very best at every level, and I felt that was worth more
Jason Riedberger
21:32 08 Jan 18
Stewart Law Group, specifically Mr. Robert Howard efficiently managed my legal matter. Mr. Howard thoughtfully guided me to navigate the legal system, his efficient approach helped minimize my legal cost. Wonderful firm and more
John Banken
23:36 10 Oct 17
My attorney, Amy Dohrendorf, from Stewart Law Group comes highly recommended. When I was going through the most painful time in my life, she always had my best interest at heart. She was clear on what my rights were as a spouse and mother, protected those rights, and with her guidance, was able to settle my messy divorce outside of court. She is passionate about her job – and it shows in the way she handles her cases and clients. She’s an excellent attorney, a hard worker, thorough, and extremely detail-oriented. She knows her stuff. If you hire Amy to represent you, you will not be disappointed. I’m so glad I more
Dana Anthony
00:44 19 Jul 17

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