CONTACT US:
623-748-3338

Archive for the ‘Child Custody’ Category

Understanding Parenting Time and Visitation

Posted on: May 2nd, 2013 by Scott Law

For every parent, spending quality time with the child is very important. For divorcing parents, parenting time and visitation plans are what allow them time together with the child. Therefore, it is vital that a divorcing parent understands how to get visitation rights and looks to family law attorneys in Phoenix AZ as a source of great help. There are many kinds of parenting time and visitation plans, the following includes general information on a few common types.

Supervised Visitation

In certain instances, the court will order supervised visitation.  This means that in addition to the visiting parent, another responsible adult will be a part of the visit for the entire duration. Depending on the situation, the court may allow the parent who does not have the custody to choose a person to act as the supervisor, such as the grandparent of the child. In some cases, the parent might be asked to visit the child at a particular location to allow the court-appointed designee to supervise the visit or may require a supervising agency to conduct the supervision.

Unsupervised Parenting Time

A parent who has unsupervised visits with the child can take the child to his/her own home or any other appropriate location to spend quality time. However, this has to be within the parenting time or visitation schedule. In certain cases, restrictions are placed on the parent exercising their parenting time. For instance, if the baby is too young, the parent many not be allowed to have the child overnight until the infant becomes accustomed to bottle-feeding.

Virtual Visitation

When parents reside a long distance from each other, it is important for regular phone or video chatting to occur.  With Skype, FaceTime and other forms of video chatting available, the internet makes it easier for parents to visit with their children even at a great distance.

Understanding Child Custody

Posted on: March 28th, 2013 by Scott Law

To understand your child custody options, you first need to familiarize yourself with legal terminology used by lawyers. According to Arizona child custody laws, there are two types of child custody one can have (1) physical custody, and (2) legal custody. Let us look at these in some detail.

Physical custody

This is also known as parenting time as it refers to the person who has the majority of the parenting time with the minor children. Physical custody can be further explained as follows:

Joint physical custody: This is also known as shared custody. Here, the children spend a certain number of days in a week (or year) with one parent and the remaining days with the other. The time can be divided almost equally between the parents.

Sole physical custody: In this situation, the child primarily resides with one parent. The other parent may have visitation rights, which can be supervised, unsupervised, and involve visits on a less frequent basis than in a joint or equal custody situation.

Bird’s nest custody: In this situation, the children do not move around to be with parents. Instead, the parents are expected to visit the children according to the time allotted to each of them. The mother may reside with children for the first few days and the father may then come in for the remaining days.  This allows the children to maintain a steady residence and enjoy the familiar surroundings with both parents.

Legal custody:

First, in Arizona, child custody is now referred to by the courts as “Legal Decision-Making.”  This deals with the legal authority that enables the parents to make decisions concerning their children such as education, non-emergency medical treatments, and religious upbringing. Legal custody is further classified as follows:

Sole legal custody: If one of the parents has the sole legal custody/sole legal decision-making authority, he/she becomes the only person who has the authority to make major decisions concerning the child.

Joint legal custody: Here both parents have the authority to make major decisions. A parent who has joint legal custody need not necessarily have joint physical custody.

It is wise to hire an expert attorney to decide between joint vs sole custody so that you can live with the decision comfortably both now and in the future.

The Difference between Legal Separation and Divorce

Posted on: March 15th, 2013 by Scott Law

For many, divorce vs legal separation is a decision that is hard to make but understanding the difference between them can make the decision easier. The primary difference between the two is that legal separation will not end the marriage, but will enable the couple to live separately.   During the time that a couple lives apart, they can have an order from the court that serves as a guide about the rights and responsibilities of each spouse.

The Main Reasons Why Couples Opt For Legal Separation

There are 3 major reasons why couples will opt for a legal separation rather than a divorce, which are:

  1. The religion of the couple prohibits them from getting a divorce.
  2. The couple has been married for less than 10 years and wishes to get social security benefits.
  3. The couple needs to remain married to be eligible for medical and health benefits under the insurance plan.

Issues Addressed Through Separation Agreement

Some of the issues that a couple can address in the legal separation agreement are: child custody / legal decision-making, division of assets and debts, child support, spousal maintenance, and parenting time schedules. A separation agreement can protect your interests until you arrive at the decision to file for divorce. In essence, it can set precedence for a divorce.

If you file for divorce, the judge may look to your separation agreement to make a final determination in the case. This is because the judge may find that where the separation agreement was agreeable to the couple for separation purposes, it should, therefore, be agreeable for divorce purposes too. It is vital that you find a divorce attorney in Glendale or other city in which you reside who can assist you in drafting a legal separation agreement that you can live with long-term.

For advice on legal separation or divorce contact Scott Law Offices to schedule a consultation.

A Judge’s Authority and Having the Advantage of An Experienced Family Law Attorney

Posted on: March 15th, 2013 by Scott Law

Limits of a Judge’s Authority

Divorce, in general, is referred to as dissolution of marriage in many states. The Superior Court judge is the only authority that can grant permission to dissolve a couple’s marital status. In addition to this, the judge is also authorized to do the following:

  1. Issue orders that pertain to the custody / legal decision-making, control and care of the couple’s children.
  2. Divide assets and debts.
  3. Issue orders relating to monetary support of the couple’s children.
  4. Issue orders to one of the parties to pay the legal fees incurred in the case by the other party.
  5. Issue orders for spousal support.

The Advantage of Having an Experience Family Law Attorney

Under Arizona divorce and child custody laws, the couple is encouraged and permitted to reach an agreement relating to all issues of divorce such as legal decision-making for the children, physical custody of children, alimony, division of debts and assets, etc. When using a divorce attorney Phoenix family law cases can often result in a partial or full settlement.  It is advisable to have a settlement agreement drafted after negotiation by an experienced attorney. The parting spouses are most often unable to customize all terms of settlement to suit their circumstances and needs, but an experienced divorce attorney can help to ensure that their agreement is as inclusive as possible.

There are also certain issues that court is not authorized to otherwise order but can be included as a provision that is enforceable in the divorce settlement agreement. In other words, you stand to gain rights through a well-drafted divorce settlement agreement, which a court may not otherwise provide you.

If you are in need of an experienced divorce attorney contact Scott Law Offices and make an appointment for your free consultation today.

Understanding Family Law and Choosing Your Lawyer

Posted on: March 15th, 2013 by Scott Law

In the past, attorneys in the field of family law were called matrimonial or divorce lawyers. The primary focus was on marital relationships and nothing more. Most of the domestic cases were basically limited to setting spousal maintenance, dividing marital property, and establishing child support and custody. But over the last few decades, the scope of family law has changed drastically.

Family Law Today

A family law practitioner today must be knowledgeable about adoption, prenuptial agreements, interests of the child, child support responsibilities, parenting time and visitation rights, tax consequences etc. There is also Arizona family law that governs payment of family support obligations and domestic violence committed by parents. It is therefore not surprising that the field is now known as family law as it pertains to various aspects affecting families.

 Choosing a Family Law Practitioner

Prior to hiring an attorney for family law in Phoenix, you need to take time to interview the person thoroughly to be sure that your goals and working styles for the case are in alignment. Ensuring that the attorney you hire understands your goals and provides you with realistic expectations can be the key to a positive experience.

Another aspect that should be discussed beforehand is whether your Arizona family lawyers work on a retainer or flat rate. If they work on a retainer, you must discuss the attorney’s hourly rate and what happens when the retainer runs out.  A flat rate can make it simpler to financially plan for your family law case. Finally, keep the expectations from the family lawyer clear and understand what is expected from you as a client.

If you have family law questions contact Scott Law Offices today for your free consultation.

Arizona Changes Custody to Legal Decision-Making

Posted on: January 30th, 2013 by Scott Law

Child custody is often a very confusing and misunderstood area of family law for people facing a Phoenix custody or divorce case.  With the new year brings new changes to the laws on child custody in Arizona.  The first and most apparent change is that the term “child custody” has been replaced with the term “legal decision-making.”  A.R.S. §25-403 includes several other changes that may affect your Phoenix divorce or custody case.  The following are some examples of the changes made:

  1. The law eliminates any consideration of the wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to custody.
  2. The fact that one, both, or neither parent has provided primary care for the child is no longer considered.
  3. The factor that permits the court to consider the wishes of the child has been modified to only require the court to consider the child’s wishes if that child is of suitable age and maturity.
  4. The law adds a requirement that the court must consider the past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and child.
  5. Where the law previously required the court to consider which parent would be more likely to provide frequent, meaningful continuing contact with the other parent, the new law seems to divide these into three separate factors, instead of two.  So, the court will consider which parent is more likely to provide 1) frequent, 2) meaningful, and 3) continuing contact with the other parent.

The law also includes the following new provisions:

  1. The court may consider whether one parent intentionally misled the court to cause unnecessary delay, increase the cost of litigation or to persuade the court to give them parenting time or custody or to deny the other parent parenting time or custody.
  2. The court shall not consider either the parent or child’s gender when approving a parenting plan.
  3. The court shall consider the past, present and future abilities of the parents to cooperate in decision-making about the child as set forth in the orders for joint legal decision-making.

The foregoing are just some of the changes made to the Arizona laws on custody and legal decision-making.  If you have questions regarding a Phoenix, Glendale or Anthem divorce or child custody case contact Scott Law Offices for your free consultation.

Helpful Websites for Co-Parenting.

Posted on: January 10th, 2013 by Scott Law

We commonly rely on the internet for work, school, entertainment, and to keep in touch with friends and family.  When going through a divorce in Arizona or a child custody case, why not look to the internet to assist in co-parenting with your Ex?  There are many sites that provide tools for parents to assist with the sometimes difficult task of co-parenting.  Many of these sites also provide tools for divorce attorneys and custody attorneys to review communication and interact with the family.  Some of the tools available to parents on websites for co-parenting are:

  1. A shared calendar to coordinate any parenting time schedule or child visitation schedule.
  2. The ability to request changes to a parenting time or visitation schedule or to request a day swap.
  3. An expense log to keep accurate records and to allow for prompt payment of shared expenses.
  4. Stored information banks to keep up to date contact information on the child’s doctors, teachers, extracurricular activity providers, emergency contacts and to ensure that both parties have easy access to accurate immunization and health records for the child.
  5. Message boards for effective communication between parents and other family members.

At Scott Law Offices, we believe that communication is key.  These internet resources may provide many parents of divorce with a more simple, effective and low-conflict way of co-parenting.  Here are a few of the sites:

  1. Familywizard.com
  2. Jointparents.com
  3. Sharekids.com
  4. Parentingtime.net

For more information on Divorce, Custody or Visitation in Arizona, contact Scott Law Offices for your free consultation with a Phoenix Divorce Attorney.

Parenting Time and the Holiday Season

Posted on: December 6th, 2012 by Scott Law

Scott Law Offices is focused on family.  The holiday season is all about family.  Holidays can bring a certain amount of stress for many people.  When two people share child custody in Arizona, that holiday stress is often magnified.  Avoiding child custody and parenting time issues during the holidays can reduce stress for all involved.  By doing so, the children can enjoy a great holiday experience with both parents.  Here are some things to consider:

Check Your Paperwork

Your court orders for child custody and parenting time are binding.  Oftentimes there are specific orders regarding holiday parenting time set forth in your parenting time orders.  Stick to this schedule unless and until the orders are formally changed.  Most parenting time arrangements can be modified so long as the parties have a mutual agreement in writing.  Before making any modification to the parenting time schedule, be sure to follow the procedures for modifications set forth in your court orders.

Travel

Be sure to check your custody orders for limitations on travel.  It is often the case that advanced notice must be given to the other parent prior to traveling out of State with the children.  Sometimes permission must be obtained from the other parent to allow the children to travel out of State.  Plan ahead and give sufficient time for any necessary discussions related to travel.  Also, you may want to consider allowing some form of video chatting between the children and the other parent while you are travelling.  This may ease any stress that the children and the other parent may feel from being away from each other during the holidays.

Trade Time

If you find that you need to keep the children for extra time over the holidays or hope to have the children on a day that is not designated to you in your custody orders, consider trading time.  You could offer the other parent extra days at any time during the year or possibly offer them a holiday that would normally fall during your parenting time.  Flexibility is important in any co-parenting situation.

Be Nice

Though it may be difficult, try to be nice.  A little bit of compassion and tolerance can go a long way.  This can alleviate stress not only for you and the other parent, but for your children.  Communication is often the key to avoiding difficult holiday disputes.  Having effective communication and playing nicely with the other parent will set a good example for your children and may help them to have a happy holiday.

If you have questions about your parenting time schedule or child custody orders do not wait until last-minute.  Avoid the stress of last-minute holiday disputes by addressing potential holiday parenting time issues well in advance of the holidays and court closures.  Contact a Scott Law Offices custody attorney for your free consultation.

The Confusion About Child Custody

Posted on: November 5th, 2012 by Scott Law

Child custody has proven to be one of the most confusing and misunderstood areas of family law for people facing a Phoenix custody or divorce case.  So, what does the term “custody” mean?  Most individuals seeking the advice of a Phoenix family law attorney use this term to explain who they desire their children to physically reside with.  For example, a person wanting equal parenting time may often refer to this as having “joint custody.”  Or, someone who feels that the other parent should have no parenting time will refer this as “sole custody.”  What is important to understand is that when a court in Maricopa County speaks about custody, they are referring to each parent’s ability to make legal decisions regarding their children.  So, a person having sole custody would have the sole right to make important legal decisions with regard to the children.  Legal decisions include, but are not limited to, education, medical care and religion.  A person having joint custody would have an equal right to be a part of making these important decisions for the children.  That means that both parents would have to be consulted before these decisions are made and agree upon those decisions.

The court has the ability to add various specific terms into the final orders and to specify which parent has the final authority in making decisions regarding the children.  A Phoenix custody attorney can assist in exploring these options to ensure that the proper court relief is requested.  For more information on custody in Phoenix contact Scott Law Offices.

I Was Served With a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Now What?

Posted on: August 13th, 2012 by Scott Law

It is never an easy thing to face the reality that your marriage is over.  When one party (the “Petitioner”) initiates court proceedings by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage and serves their spouse (the “Respondent”) with the pleadings, the Respondent is often left with the question: Now What?  Here are some simple tips to follow when served with divorce papers:

  1. Keep track of the date you were served.  The court imposes a deadline the Respondent served with a petition for dissolution of marriage to file their response to the petition.  Failure to file a response within the court’s deadline can cause the court to issue orders without any input from the Respondent.
  2. Determine whether you will hire a family law attorney.  It is important to determine early in the proceedings whether you will hire an attorney to assist you through the divorce proceedings.  If you choose to have legal counsel, the attorney will likely want to draft their own response to the Petitioner’s petition for dissolution of marriage.  The earlier the attorney is brought into the case, the more familiar they will be with the facts of your case and the goals you have set.
  3. Consider your finances. Take a look at any joint bank accounts and keep a close eye on the funds that are removed from the account.  Keep accurate records of your spending out of any joint accounts.  You may also want to consider working with your spouse to divide the remaining funds in the joint accounts so that those accounts can be closed.
  4. Read any Injunctions that are put in place by the court in your divorce case.  Once the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed the court will normally issue an injunction.  An injunction prevents certain actions with regard to the marital property, insurance and any minor children.  An injunction is a court order and it is important that all court orders are followed by the parties.
  5. Consider sitting down with your spouse.  Oftentimes the parties are able to sit down early on in a case to discuss how each of them would like to resolve the case.  While many cases are contested and the parties are unable to reach any agreements, some divorcing couples are able to take control of their divorce case and work out agreeable terms that their attorneys can then memorialize in a final decree.  Parties should also consider whether a form of mediation would be helpful in their case.
  6. Do not forget the kids.  While learning that your spouse wants a divorce is painful, the affect that this decision has on the children of the marriage should be a primary concern of the parents.  Divorce can be devastating for the kids.  While the parents often consider what they could have done differently in the marriage to make it work, the children often do the same.  It is so important that children of a divorce are appropriately informed and that they have an outlet to express their emotions.  Counseling can be helpful and should be considered early on in the divorce case.

If you are served, do your best to stay organized, make sure that you calendar all court dates and deadlines and contact an attorney early to ensure that your rights are protected.