How does custody affect child support?
The physical custody arrangement is one factor considered in the worksheet (see Chapter 5.) The more time you have your child, the more expensive it is.
We have not been to court yet and there are no orders. Who gets the kids right now?
It is basically a free-for-all, unless the two of you can decide. Just remember that what you do now can be reported to the court later. If you unreasonably keep the children away from one parent out of vindictiveness, that will be detrimental to your obtaining legal custody.
Can I get temporary custody?
Yes. You must file a motion asking for it, after the petition for divorce is filed or with the petition as it is being filed. The court will set a hearing date, take evidence and make a decision if you all cannot decide. You really should be able to decide on a temporary agreement. Sometimes parents try different schedules until they find one that works. Not all the children in a family have to have the same schedule.
We have a parenting schedule that we both agree with. Can we put it in writing?
Yes. You can write and sign an agreement, as can be found in the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure Rule 69, that will be valid in court. You can attach it to your joint parenting agreement or rewrite into your final joint parenting agreement. It is valid, even if it is not filed with the court. It is a good idea to put it in writing during the pendency of the divorce, just so you have some certainty.
My husband never really helped parent the kids, but now he wants 50/50 time with them. Is he likely to get 50/50 parenting time?
History of care giving is only one factor in determining the best interests of the children. Perhaps he never had the chance to co-parent in the past. But if he is doing a good job, the kids are happy and he is learning to be a good, involved father, congratulations to your family! Fathers often shift their work focus after a divorce so they can stay involved in their children?s lives, and that is a good thing.
My husband is doing whatever I do. If I take the children for ice cream on my weekend, he does it on his next visit. When I started reading books to them at night, he started doing it on his parenting time. I bet he is just doing it to look good. What gives?
Perhaps you are modeling parenting behavior for him. He is actually learning how to be a good parent by watching you. Good for your family! Keep up the good work! Be proud of him and happy for your kids.
Will the court tell me when I can see my kids?
Only if you and your spouse cannot agree. You really do not want to turn this life-changing decision over to a stranger who will only get to know your family in an hour or so of an evidentiary hearing. Not only do you relinquish all control, but having to testify and perhaps say negative things or answer embarrassing questions can leave the family scarred and impact future interactions. There is no need to litigate these issues unless there is a domestic violence, drug or other abuse issue, and you must have the help of the court to protect your children.
Will my kids have to go to court?
No, judges do not care to speak with children. Your children can talk to counselors and they can write reports. Also, the conciliation services may choose to interview your children as part of a parenting conference. Children over the age of 6 or 7 can usually be interviewed.
I think my spouse?s behavior reflects instability and potential likelihood for harm to my children if my spouse does not undergo the proper treatment. Is there anything that I can ask the court for?
This is beyond the scope of this book, but you could ask for a Rule 63 psychological examination or a custody evaluation.
What is a parenting conference?
It is a meeting with a neutral third party who talks with both parties and then drafts a report to give to the court. It can be ordered by the court or requested by either party. (See ?Parenting Conference Through the Courts,? earlier in this chapter.)