If you are a married mother, you and the child’s father are presumed to have an equal legal right to see the children and participate in major decisions about the children, such as medical treatment, education or religious training. Legal decision-making refers to who makes the major decisions for your children such as health and education.
Married mothers (and married fathers) have joint legal decision-making until a Court says otherwise. The parenting time schedule determines when each parent gets to see the children.
If you are an unmarried mother, and paternity and/or the father’s rights have not yet been established, you have a lot more power than an unmarried father when it comes to your children. You may give the child up for adoption, take the child away from the father, not allow the father to see the child at all or make any other significant decisions all without the father’s consent or permission.
However, once paternity is established and the unmarried father files a Petition to Establish, he may potentially obtain rights to see the child and make decisions regarding the child.
Custodial Interference in Arizona Law
The Statute in Arizona A.R.S. 13-1302. Custodial interference; child born out of wedlock; defenses; classification A. A person commits custodial interference if, knowing or having reason to know that the person has no legal right to do so, the person does one of the following:
- Takes, entices or keeps from lawful custody any child, or any person who is incompetent, and who is entrusted by authority of law to the custody of another person or institution.
- Before the entry of a court order determining custodial rights, takes, entices or withholds any child from the other parent denying that parent access to any child.
- If the person is one of two persons who have joint legal custody of a child takes, entices or withholds from physical custody the child from the other custodian.
- At the expiration of access rights outside this state, intentionally fails or refuses to return or impedes the return of a child to the lawful custodian.
- If a child is born out of wedlock, the mother is the legal custodian of the child for the purposes of this section until paternity is established and custody or access is determined by a court.