Child Custody Lawyer Phoenix AZ
Roughly one million children in the United States see their families go through divorce each year. These children’s emotional well-being and wealth depend entirely on how their parents interact after the divorce is complete. In our two decades of experience, child custody issues are among the most contentious in Arizona family law.
You must know how physical child custody works under Arizona law to keep your children safe and help them through this life-changing event. If you are in Phoenix, you need the help of an experienced child custody attorney when dealing with any child custody issues. Here at the Law Office of Cosmas Onyia, we are dedicated to helping you navigate the legal process of child custody and ensure that your child’s best interests are protected.
Navigating these complex child custody matters is something that our Phoenix family law attorneys have extensive experience with, and they can find personalized solutions to cater to all your needs. Contact our team today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case with some of the state’s most brilliant family law attorneys.
Parenting Time, Legal Decision-Making, and Parenting Plans
It’s critical to understand that your child plays much more of a part in your divorce or legal separation as you and your spouse do. While it’s vital to be rational and take legal matters one at a time, you shouldn’t be caught unprepared for family court proceedings.
Even though you expect specific difficulties and challenges, the pressure can be too stressful when your children’s upbringing and welfare are in the court’s focus. The family law attorney at the Law Office of Cosmas Onyia knows that the typical child custody process can involve a parenting plan, child custody evaluation, or determining child support. This may lead to serious negotiations with the other spouse.
Legal custody gives one or both parents the ability to make decisions about important matters in a child’s life. Under A.R.S. § 25-401(3), the main pillars of legal decision-making are religious training, health care, and educational decisions. The courts may award joint custody for legal matters, sole custody, or even decide to split the decision-making powers.
Suppose there is a single disagreement between the children’s parents. In that case, one parent may be legally granted permission to decide on any of the three elements, even if both parents are jointly responsible for their children.
When the courts grant sole legal custody of a child or children to a parent, that parent is able to decide all matters regarding education, religion, and healthcare. It’s also important to note that legal custody is separate from physical custody. The courts can award joint physical custody to both parents with final decision-making to one or the other. This is why it’s essential to discuss what you want from a child custody agreement with an attorney who is familiar with Arizona child custody law before signing an agreement.
Once parents agree on parenting issues, they must submit a written parenting plan to a judge. Every parenting plan must be in the child’s best interest. If approved, it will become binding and enforceable. If spouses cannot reach an agreement, a custody trial is necessary.
A parenting plan is best described by what it includes. At a minimum, it should:
- Designate if a parent will have sole legal decision-making or if they want joint authority
- Determine each parent’s responsibilities and rights over the child’s education, religious upbringing, and healthcare
- Include a parenting schedule and a procedure detailing where exchanges will happen and who will take care of transportation
- Include a procedure for periodic review of the parenting plan and for parent communication related to the child (how often, when, and how)
- Involve a procedure for resolving disputes, proposed changes, mediation, private counseling, or use of court conciliation services
- Include a statement that each parent has read, understood, and abided by the requirements of A.R.S. § 25-403.05(B) regarding registered or convicted sex offenders and dangerous crimes against children
The courts are unlikely to deny a child custody plan unless they believe it unfairly favors one side or that it’s not in the best interest of the child or children. The child custody attorneys at the Law Office of Cosmas Onyia can walk you through drafting the parenting agreement and iron out any potential disagreements.
Parenting time defines the schedule (specific day, week, weekend, school vacation, holiday) that determines when the child spends time with one parent.
According to the program set in their parenting plan, the parenting time responsibilities should include routine childcare decisions such as feeding, sheltering, and clothing for the child. It’s essential to mention that joint legal decision-making will not guarantee equal parenting time.
There are a few exceptions when the Arizona court does not allow parenting time. For this to happen, the court must be convinced that one of the parents poses a danger to the child due to substance abuse, domestic violence, mental or physical health problems, or child neglect or abuse. In these extreme cases, the court may still award supervised visitation to the non-custodial parent. This will involve meeting the child in the presence of the court-appointed supervisor until a judge is convinced that parental visitation rights should be restored. Whether you’re a custodial parent trying to deny visitation to the other parent or you’ve had your child visitation suspended, you should contact a Phoenix child custody lawyer to discuss your situation.
If anything alters the decision of parenting time, the court can order the time to be either restricted, supervised, or monitored. The court can also ease restrictions if the parent establishes reliability and stability.
How to Get Sole Custody in Phoenix
If you want sole custody of your child, an experienced child custody attorney at the Law Office of Cosmas Onyia can guide you through the complex process. You can secure sole custody in two different ways:
- Through an agreement with the other spouse
- Through a court order
Under Arizona law, legal decision-making refers to making decisions pertaining to education, medical and religious upbringing, while parenting time refers to the determination when each parent gets to see the children or live with the children. It can also refer to visitation rights and parenting time. In most cases, the parent with sole custody also has the child’s physical custody. The other party will receive parenting time with the child and typically pays child support.
Suppose you have sole custody of a child. That means you are the only parent authorized to make decisions about the child’s education, health care, and religious training. While you may have an informal agreement to discuss important decisions with the other parent, you have the legal power to make any choices.
To prove that full custody is in your child’s best interests, you must provide various pieces of evidence. Some may include that you are the primary caregiver and maintain a close and loving relationship with your child. Friends, teachers, or child counselors may be able to testify about your relationship.
If you can’t get sole custody by agreement, you’ll need to ask a court to decide custody for you and the other party. For that, you need knowledgeable, compassionate, and experienced family law attorneys at Cosmas Onyia, P.C.
Applicable Arizona Laws
In Arizona, the law limits the court’s authority or jurisdiction in certain child custody proceedings. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) requires a test to determine the child’s “home state” to exercise jurisdiction over the case in Arizona.
On the other hand, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) elaborates on the jurisdictional problems faced if the case of interstate custody ever arises. This act prevents any other state from enforcing child custody when Arizona already has jurisdiction over the case. Any parents who don’t comply with the court’s order can be held in contempt of the court and further sanctioned.
The Law Office of Cosmas Onyia is one of the best legal teams to deal with family law matters. When you contact us, we offer a free consultation to ensure we are the right fit before moving on. If your child’s life hangs in the balance, our legal team advises you not to take any chances and risks and appoint an attorney specializing in divorce, child custody, or other family law issues.
When is a Custody Trial Necessary?
If you can’t agree on the parenting plan, the court must decide all the legal custody or physical custody issues at trial. For this, several principles may apply in custody litigation.
For starters, determining your child’s best interests requires an in-depth examination of both parents’ past and present and how they will behave in the future.
The judge will have broad discretion when determining custody, mainly because they observe firsthand the parents’ demeanor and all witnesses. Additionally, the judge will rely significantly on the child custody evaluator’s report.
Separately, review of the court’s final orders and rulings is minimal. While the child is most obviously the focus of the legal proceedings, his or her participation is not a given, as it can be traumatic. For instance, the child can be too young or emotionally fragile to understand what is happening or all the reasons for the questions asked.
Why Choose a Child Custody Lawyer Phoenix, AZ, from the Law Office of Cosmas Onyia?
Our legal team in Phoenix, Arizona, focuses on working with parents looking to make the process of securing legal custody easier. A court battle generally puts stress on both parents, so the family law attorneys at Cosmas Onyia advise you to work together when it is possible to do so.
Here at the Law Office of Cosmas Onyia, we can assist you in other family law matters, including divorce, legal separation, property, and asset division, child support, legal custody, physical custody, spousal support, order of protection, or visitation rights.
Our prime objective is to resolve any controversial and challenging issues preventing them from taking too much toll on the client.
Our Phoenix family law attorney may use mediation, if possible, as a cost-effective tool which in some cases has proven effective.
Family law involves many aspects. The main goal of the legal decision-making process is to ensure that your child’s best interests are always looked after. After your divorce or legal separation, your children should enjoy a stable environment. Moreover, per the child custody order, visitation rights are needed, as well as a guarantee that there are no instances of danger or child abuse from the non-custodial parent.
Visitation rights extend beyond the parents, as grandparents are also given rights. Navigating these time-consuming and overwhelming matters is something that our family law attorneys are well-versed in and have extensive experience with.
At the Law Office of Cosmas Onyia, we understand the impact child support and custody can have on daily life. Our family law attorney in Phoenix, AZ, is committed to helping make the difficult yet safe and necessary decision to protect your children. We represent spouses and unmarried parents seeking child custody. To learn about the legal options available to you and your children, contact us to schedule a free consultation at 602-265-5200.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I move my child to another state?
Yes, you can. Under A.R.S. § 25-408, you must seek the Arizona court’s permission before you relocate. This means that you also must notify the other parent about your relocation. As a custodial parent, you are under a custody order. So, you cannot decide to move away because the child stays under the court’s continuing jurisdiction until age 18 (or until emancipated). Additionally, if you plan to relocate 100 miles away within the state of Arizona, then the other parent is entitled to advanced notice. After all, your intended relocation will directly affect the non-custodial parent’s access to the child.
Can we make our own custody agreement?
Yes, you are strongly encouraged to do so. As long as your custody agreement is in your children’s best interests, you and the other party can settle custody and access any issues by private agreement. Doing so is recommended if you can compromise on your custody arrangements without turning the legal decision-making over to the court.
Is a child custody evaluation necessary in divorce?
It depends. Under Rule 68 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, the judge can order a custody evaluation if parents cannot agree on custody. If the evaluation is requested, the family court’s conciliation services will arrange for an assessment of what is in the children’s best interests to be conducted by an experienced and professional child custody evaluator.
Should I take a Parent Information Course?
The parent information course is mandatory in all cases if the court is asked to decide child support, visitation, or custody matters. The court has the discretion to order parental participation in the course in other cases, such as enforcement or modification of child custody, support, or visitation.
Are child custody lawyers always necessary?
The answer to this depends largely on the nature of the child custody case. Most custody lawyers would recommend using an attorney if children are involved in a divorce. A child custody lawyer can ensure that you fully understand your rights under Arizona law, and they can help you avoid inadvertently giving up those rights.
What if I have a restraining order on the other parent?
If you have a restraining order on the other parent, they may still have the right to spend time with their children depending on how the injunction reads. They may have to make arrangements to pick the children up at a safe location, like in the lobby of the police station.
Phoenix Family Law Attorneys
One of the best ways to ensure a smooth relationship with the other parent is to establish boundaries with a legally-binding child custody agreement. But not all Phoenix child custody lawyers have the same level of knowledge and training when it comes to child custody laws. Phoenix child custody attorney Cosmas Onyia has extensive experience with the child custody laws of Arizona. If you want to discuss your child custody case with a top-tier Phoenix child custody attorney, contact the Law Office of Cosmas Onyia today. Attorney Onyia also represents clients in matters of divorce, child support, spousal support, asset division, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, and more.