If you’re looking at getting a divorce or trying to get child custody in Arizona, you may be intimidated by the thought of going to court. While legal battles are never easy, the process can be made much easier if you have a better understanding of the system and how to go about navigating it. Here are several important things you need to know about family law in Arizona.
- Every decision made has to do with the child’s best interests. Arizona family law focuses primarily on what’s good for the child in custody cases. This means that regardless of what you and your ex are fighting over, the courts are going to put your kid’s best interests first. It also means that if you have a valid reason to want full custody, such as in cases of abandonment, abuse, or substance abuse, you may be able to get it if you and your lawyer put together a convincing case of why sole custody is in your child’s best interests. In general, though, Arizona family law tends to believe until proven otherwise that it’s best for the child’s development to have both parents involved in their life.
- Arizona family law has gone away from using the term “custody.” Now, the courts assign decision making rights and parenting time. The court’s preference is to share both between both parents, but there is no guarantee they’ll be shared equally. Arizona courts usually prefer to try to keep everything as consistent as possible for the child’s benefit. With that in mind, courts may award fairly equal decision making rights and parenting time if both parents are staying in the same area and can provide stability as the child travels back and forth. On the other hand, they may give one parent one or both if the other is moving away, for example, or if there are concerns regarding the other parent.
- The parenting plan is a legal document. It’s important to remember that the parenting plan represents a legally binding agreement between both parents, and must be followed precisely. Typically, the parenting agreement will dictate everything from religious education to parenting schedules. The parenting schedule is important, as it establishes a stable routine that everyone can rely on, especially the child. The parenting plan will also dictate how the co-parents are to resolve any issues that arise, such as decision-making disagreements or scheduling conflicts.
- It’s important to spell everything out precisely. Keeping in mind how important the parenting plan will be in determining the course of your family’s lives, it’s important to make sure you are perfectly clear about every single thing in it. Anything that is not spelled out in the parenting plan could be a source of conflict later on. Gray areas and loop holes leave room for misunderstandings, legal battles, and expensive litigation, depending on how much the situation escalates. The best way to avoid this is to make the parenting plan airtight under the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.
Getting a divorce or establishing a custody agreement for your child is a pivotal point in your life, and it’s important to understand what you’ll be facing as you go through this process. Make sure you protect yourself as much as possible by having an experienced legal expert looking out for your best interests. For more information about Arizona family law or to schedule a consultation, contact Simon Law Group, PLLC, today.