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Child Custody FAQs Part 1

 

Do the courts favor mothers?
There is no such preference. There are many factors that the court considers, but courts do not favor mothers over fathers.

How does the court decide custody? (A.R.S. ?25-403)
The court looks at the following factors:
1. The wishes of the child?s parent or parents as to custody.
2. The wishes of the child as to the custodian.
3. The interaction and interrelationships of the child with the child?s parent or parents, the child?s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child?s best interest.
4. The child?s adjustment to home, school and community.
5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent.
7. Whether one parent, both parents or neither parent has provided primary care of the child.
8. The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding custody.
9. Whether a parent has complied with Chapter 3, Article 5 of this title.
10. Whether either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect under section 13-2907.02.

We are not yet divorced and my wife took the kids to New York.
Once the divorce is filed and served, neither parent can take the children out of state without permission of the other parent or the court.

Can I stop my spouse from dating when she has the kids?
No, as long as they are safe, there is not much you can do. You have the right to know who the children are spending time with and whether they are spending the night somewhere other than their home with the other parent. Be reasonable in these requests, but keep your children safe. You might want to know the person?s birth date and Social Security number so you can run a background check on him/her. You have a right to know your children are safe.

How much do I have to pay for the kids?
It all depends; this is discussed in Chapter 5 regarding child support.

Can she schedule soccer when they are with me?
It is best if this can be negotiated. It is unknown what each judge would decide. Some believe that a parent can only schedule on their own time. This basically eliminates your children from most activities. This is probably one of the most hotly litigated issues after divorce. Think of it this way: it is not ?your time;? it is your child?s childhood.

My wife has the kids every other weekend, but she works and leaves them with her mother. What can I do?
You could have an agreement called a ?right of first refusal.? This is a common provision, which reads that if one parent who has the kids is gone for more than four hours, s/he will call the other parent and offer them the ?right? to parent the kids before anyone else. If the other parent is busy, then parent number 1 can leave the kids with a responsible person of their choice.

My wife has the kids every Monday and Tuesday, but she is starting school and leaves the kids with her boyfriend. Can I have parenting time with my children, instead of her boyfriend?
The right of first refusal would apply. Also, you have every right to know exactly who is taking care of your children when your spouse is not home; this includes name, address, phone number and ID information, so you can do a background check if you desire. This is not to say that you use such requests as harassment; in fact you have a similar obligation to your spouse to let her know with whom you are leaving the kids, if anyone. You both have the continuing job to make sure your children are safe.

Your Goals, Our Guidance

 

You?re reading this book to save money; you want what is best for your family, even while recognizing that this divorce is necessary. We are here to help you figure out your rights, your issues, your choices and your solutions. We are experienced family law attorneys who have seen first-hand the devastation and damage caused when people act out their emotional issues in a divorce through the legal system. In this chapter, we explain how to conduct your own divorce and when, if necessary, to seek professional help.

We repeat: ?Always take the high road.? That is not always easy, and it may seem impossible while going through a divorce. But this book was written to help you do exactly that: save time, money, and stress. Of course, it takes two people to make agreements, resolve issues and negotiate conflict. Emotional issues from a divorce are better handled outside the legal system, not through an expensive adversarial process that is ill equipped to handle the delicate details of a family in turmoil. We often ask a judge to listen to an hour or two of evidence and then make lifelong decisions for people that he or she has never met prior to that day in court. That may not seem right but it is the only system we have. So, if you want more control over your destiny, keep reading.

When Does My Child Support Obligation End?

Child support orders apply to any child under the age of 18, or a child who is still attending high school or an equivalency program. Also, if a child is mentally or physically handicapped, the judge may order that support payments continue indefinitely, past the age of majority (18).

Who Gets the Income Tax Exemptions for the Children?

The federal and state income tax exemptions for the children are also generally divided in proportion to the parties’ incomes. In order for the paying parent to claim the children during his/her year, the parent must be current in his/her child support obligation for that year. This is determined by statute, but may be modified by agreement of both parties.

Who Pays Child Support?

Using the factors of the parent’s monthly gross income, the amount of spousal maintenance paid or received, the amount of court-ordered child support paid by one parent for support of children not common to the other parent, the cost of one parent supporting children not common to the other parent, the amount of the medical insurance premium for the children, the child care expenses, the physical custody schedule, and the Child Support Worksheet, the court will be able to determine which parent should pay child support. The law provides that when the court grants a custody order, it also must decide what amount of child support should be paid by each parent under the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. Joint custody does not mean that either parent is no longer responsible to provide for the support of the child.

How is Child Support Determined?

Child support is decided upon these basic factors, plus whatever else each parent pays for: 1) monthly salary of each parent, 2) age of children, 3) parenting time, 4) day care costs, 5) medical insurance, 6) extracurricular expenses, and 7) number of other children not common to the marriage.

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 decisions. 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.

My Former Spouse Wants to Go on a Cruise to Mexico. I Will Not Let the Kids Get Passports. Can He Get My Children Passports Without My Approval?

This can get sticky, because there are hundreds of international abductions every year. If you truly believe it is for a cruise, you might consider it. You can ask for the written itinerary and documentation showing that they are really going on a cruise. Sometimes the abduction of children comes as no surprise to the abandoned parent. You could agree to have the passports kept in a safety deposit box that requires two signatures to retrieve. If your former spouse has citizenship in another country, you might want to do research to find out about whether that country is a member of the Hague Convention and whether you could retrieve your children if they were kidnapped. You should seek legal advice if kidnapping is a real concern.

My Wife Has the Kids Every Other Weekend, But She Works and Leaves Them With Her Mother. What Can I Do?

It sounds like you might need to consider revisiting and amending your parenting agreement to better fit everyone’s schedule. At one time, you could have an agreement called a “first right of refusal.” This was a common provision, which reads that if one parent who has the kids is gone for more than four hours, s/he will call the other parent and offer them the “right” to parent the kids before anyone else. ?Unfortunately, this made people fight more often than it solved any problems and it is disfavored by the courts. Co-parenting requires constant changes, especially if a work schedule changes. ?Also, if it ?is just a temporary time change, ?it often might be a good idea to allow the grandmother and the kids to spend this time together. ?Did you encourage this relationship when you were still married? If so, why not continue it now? Remember, you might be in the same situation some day and you will want understanding and consideration from your partner at that time.

Can I Stop My Spouse From Dating When She Has the Kids?

No, as long as they are safe, there is not much you can do. You have the right to know who the children are spending time with and whether they are spending the night somewhere other than their home with the other parent. Be reasonable in these requests, but keep your children safe. You might want to know the person’s birth date and Social Security number so you can run a background check on him/her. You have a right to know your children are safe.

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