Not all married couples live happily ever after. Some marriages emotionally fall apart and couples decide to go their separate ways. It may seem easy to simply end things and move on, but if there are children involved, both parties should cooperate and consider the welfare of their children first before making decisions.

When a married couple decides to end their marriage through divorce, legal separation, or annulment, the decision of child custody shall be made by both parties with the mediation and approval of the local family court. Child custody refers to the court order regarding the legal rights and responsibilities of the parents in the upbringing of the child. Decisions on child custody cases always take into account the best interest of the child.

Child custody consists of legal custody, physical custody, sole custody, or joint custody. It might also be a combination of these types such as joint legal custody or sole physical custody. There are a lot of factors to be considered before granting child custody. You have to choose the type of child custody that will best fit the situation of both parents and child.

When it comes to settling custody issues, mothers and fathers were traditionally treated in different ways. In a traditional family setting, the mother usually has a strong bond with the child that began from conception until birth. The court and society believed that mothers are the best stewards and caretakers of children. Hence, fathers used to be perceived to have less impact on the development, well-being, and growth of the child. Nowadays, society tries to give more importance to the role of a father in the upbringing of his child. Fathers should also be responsible primary caregivers to their children. Arizona child custody lawyers are determined to focus on the rights of fathers as their clients.

Nowadays, the responsibilities of mothers and fathers are not limited to the traditional parental roles that they used to have. Both parents need to work and earn a living to support their family’s needs. The legal presumptions of the court regarding paternal rights continue to evolve. These father’s rights include the right to have a confirmation of paternity, to be granted child visitation rights, to have legal or physical custody rights, to decide on religious affiliation, and, at the same time, be held responsible to pay child support and alimony.

If the parents are unmarried during the birth of the child, there might be a possibility to question the identity of the father. In Arizona, the presumption of paternity is not recognized. The father’s identity must be officially determined to protect the legal rights of both parties most especially when it comes to paying child support. You will not be required to pay for child support unless the paternity is determined. It is also a requirement in getting custody of a child, parenting time, and visitation rights.

The child custody laws differ from state to state. Under the Arizona Revised Statute 25-812, you may voluntarily seek a court verdict that recognizes you as the biological father of the child or you may willingly accept the paternity of the child. According to the Arizona Revised Statute 25-814, fatherhood may be presumed under the following conditions: the father has done genetic testing with 95% probability of paternity, the mother and father were married within the past ten months from the birth of the child, the birth certificate of the child who was born out of wedlock was duly signed by both mother and father, and if one of the parents has signed and notarized an official document declaring the paternity of the father.

Both the father and the mother must equally spend time with their child regardless of age. The term joint or sole “custody” is now being referred to as joint or sole “legal decision making”. Both parents will be granted by the court with equal parenting time. In granting child custody, the court considers several factors before making a verdict. One of the factors taken into consideration is the physical distance between the child’s primary residence and the parent’s residence. The court will also be concerned about any potential hazards that may threaten the child’s safety, such as the parent’s addiction, mental health issues, or history of domestic violence. A credible Arizona family law attorney can help you devise a “parenting plan” that both parents should strictly follow. This parenting agreement or custody agreement serves as a contract for the mother and the father in fulfilling their roles as parents.

In most child custody cases, mothers are usually selected as custodial parents while the fathers are often considered as non-custodial parents. Mothers have the strongest parent-and-child relationship. Unfortunately, some mothers (or even fathers) may be unfit to take care of the child due to alcoholism, criminal activity, child abuse, drug abuse, mental illness, and abusive behavior problems. In this case, if the father believes that the mother is not qualified to be the custodial parent, then he has the right to speak out and be heard by the local court. As the father, he needs to take legal action against the mother supported by sufficient and legitimate evidence. If the mother is falsely accused, then the father will face legal charges against him due to unfounded allegations. A qualified Surprise AZ attorney specializing in family law will guide you in such child custody issues.

Both parents and children are going through a hard time in dealing with divorce. Child custody arrangements must be made with mutual consent from both parties. The parents need to agree with the terms and conditions of the custody agreements. For legal help in seeking child custody, do not hesitate to consult with our experienced Surprise Arizona child custody attorneys at Dodds Law Firm. Our child custody experts are always ready to help you maintain a harmonious parent and child relationship even after divorce.