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Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there!

Stephen Vincent

Almost a decade ago, Arizona significantly changed custody laws, putting fathers and mothers on equal footing in child custody cases. The law created a public policy that, wherever possible, parents should make parenting decisions together and have equal parenting time with the child. Studies show children do better under a 50-50 plan.

Despite this change, we know many good fathers will be spending Father’s Day without their children. Here are four things you can do to establish and protect your relationship with your child:

  1. File with the Court. While Arizona does not have a gender preference in custody once a Court case is pending, in cases where the parents are not married, mothers effectively hold all those rights prior to the filing. The most important thing a Father can do in those situations is file a Petition to Establish Paternity, Legal Decision-making, Parenting Time, and Child Support with the Court. This will put the father on equal footing with the Mother. Where a mother is not permitting the father to see the child, the father may also want to consider filing for temporary orders which is the quickest way to get a Parenting Plan in place. If you need help filing, give us a call. We love helping fathers get their rights to be a parent.
  2. Avoid making a major mistake. Fathers do well in the Arizona Court system unless they make a major mistake. This includes the obvious things a parent should not be doing—drugs, domestic violence, child abuse, committing crimes, or drunk driving. But fathers sometimes also get in trouble if they call the child names, don’t properly feed, clothe, or bathe the child, yell at the child over homework, are habitually late to exchanges, or don’t allow communication between the child and the mother. If you act responsibly, chances are that you will keep 50-50 parenting time.
  3. Be Involved. The Courts frequently award fathers and mother joint legal decision-making, which means both parents have equal say when it comes to decisions like the child’s medical care or education. Too frequently, the mother is the only one taking the child to the doctor or attending teacher-parent conferences. Eventually, she asks the Court why they have joint legal decision-making if she’s the one making all the decisions. Fathers who attend medical appointments and teacher-parent conferences are more likely to maintain their equal parenting time status.
  4. Be Kind to the Other Parent. Co-parenting can be difficult, stressful, and emotional. Oftentimes, when mothers go to Court to modify custody, they bring with them emails and texts the father sent insulting the mother. Never insult the mother of your child, and especially do not do so in writing. She will keep any mean text or email you send her, and she will show it to the judge. We have represented fathers in many cases with extreme contention between the parents. We have counseled those fathers to adjust their communication styles and communicate with the mother kindly. In many of those cases, that change was instrumental in the father either maintaining joint custody or gaining sole custody. If you have trouble communicating with the mother of your child, contact us.

Don’t let another Father’s Day go by without seeing your child. Give us a call and we will help you establish or get your rights back. We have solutions that work.

 

 

 

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