Arizona Child Custody and Visitation
A Mesa/Gilbert child custody lawyer securing your and your child’s rights
It is important to remember that children need both of their parents even when their parents are divorcing. Child custody refers to the legal and practical rights over a child — including where the child lives and who makes the decisions.
At the Law Office of Donna M. Hougen, also known as Hougen Family Law, we fight for you and your children when it comes to litigating your child custody matters. We work — preferably through a process of analysis and negotiation — to reach results that are in the best interests of the children and that work for all the parties involved. This approach can lead to faster and more cost-effective resolution of child custody matters.
Determining what’s in the best interests of the children
The focus of a child custody case must be kept on the child, and your child needs you. We understand Arizona child custody laws and can guide you through the legal process helping you achieve your custody goals. Arizona family courts determine custody based on the best interests of the child, taking into consideration a great deal of information, including the following basic factors:
- The child’s wishes and age
- Each parent’s wishes
- The child’s adjustment to home, school and community
- Any history of domestic violence or child abuse
- Whether the parents have provided primary care of the child
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- Each parent’s willingness to foster a meaningful and substantial relationship with the other parent
Types of child custody arrangements
The best interests of a child often require the participation and cooperation of both parents. We can help parents show the court terms of child custody in a parenting plan that will work for you:
- Physical custody — Determines whom a child lives with — one or both parents
- Legal custody — Grants one parent or both parents the right to make decisions about how a child will be raised with regard to religion, medical care, education, etc.
- Joint custody — Grants joint legal or physical custody or both to each parent if parents can jointly agree on all issues of their child’s upbringing
- Sole custody — Grants one parent both legal and physical custody of the child
When a court will not grant custody
An Arizona family court will not grant custody or visitation to a parent if there is a substantial risk of danger to a child because of that parent’s behavior. It generally takes a great deal for a court to deny a parent parenting time. Parents who have a difficult time getting custody and visitation generally have the burden of proving they are safe and proper parents. Parents who make allegations of abuse and work to prevent a parent from seeing a child without significant evidence may be perceived as inappropriate parents. Common allegations that may preclude a parent from seeing a child include:
- History of significant violence
- History of criminal convictions
- Sexual offense history
- Significant delusional or suicidal behavior
- Significant history of impairment
It is important from the beginning of acquiring knowledge constituting parental unfitness allegations to aggressively forward your issues or you may lose your right to raise or defend against them. Seek the advice of an experienced attorney if you are ever faced with such issues.