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Posts Tagged ‘Legal Decision-Making’

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.

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.

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.