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Child Custody FAQs Part 2

 

My husband smokes pot almost daily. Should he have parenting time with the children?
Not unless it is supervised. Drug use will preclude him from having unsupervised parenting time. You should ask the court to have him drug tested at TASC (Treatment Assessment Screening Center). Their website is: www.tascaz.org. You might want to consult with an attorney, as this issue can become complicated.

My spouse has physically abused me. Can he still have custody of the kids?
Significant domestic violence is contrary to joint legal custody. This is also beyond the scope of this book. Please consult with an experienced family law attorney. (See Chapter 13.)

My 14-year-old does not like her father. Should I make her go visit him?
Do you know why she does not like to visit him? If he is safe and his house is safe, you should do everything you can to encourage the relationship. She may be taking on your negativity or he may just not be a very attentive parent. Help him be a better parent by role modeling for him and discussing this with him. Maybe they could go to counseling together. Teenagers often do not want to be with either parent. It is important, however, to provide ample time with each parent.

My ex-mother-in-law is coming for vacation. She wants to see our kids for a concert on my Saturday. I am afraid if I give in, I will always be giving in. Should I let my kids see her?
Yes, you should very seriously consider it. Do your kids want to go? Remember, while this is ?your? time, it is also their childhood. Try to negotiate and get make-up time or be gracious and let it go, knowing that your former spouse will return the favor when your parents come to town. Keep your kids first.

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 the cruise. Generally 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 the children if they were kidnapped. You should seek legal advice if kidnapping is a real concern.

We decided our kids would be Catholic. My spouse will not take them to mass on her Sundays. Can I ask the court to make my spouse take our children to mass?
The court will generally not mandate where each parent takes the children to worship on their respective weekends. If you have a written agreement in your decree as part of your joint parenting agreement, the court will enforce it.

My son wants to go to his band banquet on Friday night, but it is my parenting time and I do not want him to go. Should I let my son go?
Is this a question you are seriously asking? If you contemplated not allowing your son to attend his band banquet then take a step back and think about your son?s best interest, not yours. If you do not allow your child to go, you are forcing your son to spend time with you because it is ?your? time. You should carefully consider whose needs you are thinking about. We have heard on more than one occasion that it is ?not in the child?s best interest? to be involved in school activities during one parent?s time, but that is simply not the case. It is important that, as a parent, you stay involved in your children?s lives. Your life should revolve around their activities, not the other way around.

Introduction

 

Divorce is one of the most devastating and life-changing events you will ever experience. You need to know what you are getting into and be involved in the process. There are decisions to make for yourself and your children. We urge you to become educated about this process, so you can make wise decisions. You most likely are reading this in an effort to save money, but even if you choose to retain an attorney, the Divorce Coach will empower you by providing the information necessary to help yourself. You most likely have heard all kinds of wrong information about divorce, custody, child support and alimony. You need to have the playbook, so you know what attorneys and the courts know. The differences between law and equity are both important concepts to understand. It is helpful to understand the decisions that you must make along the way and the possible outcomes. Once you see the full game plan, you might want to avoid this scenario entirely.

Before you decide about the ?big game? (your divorce), you have to ask yourself if you are ready and whether you really want to be in the game. Divorce is a big decision; it should be taken seriously and thought through very carefully. We hope that you think carefully through each step of this process, keeping an open mind as you go. You do not want to end up at halftime or when the final whistle blows wishing you had never driven to the stadium. There is quite a bit of work involved in a divorce, but be aware that even though you may be exploring this option for your life, you can decide to stop at any time. It is not like jumping off a cliff; you can take baby steps until you know it is right for you. The beginning of a divorce is a reversible course. If you discover along the way that you would like to reconcile with your spouse, you should feel free to do so. You can actually quit anytime before the court signs the decree.

By reading this book, you are already way ahead of the game. You want to know the rules, the plays, the strategy and what the outcome of divorce will look like for your family. This book will assist you in figuring out what options you have and what decisions you need to make. Some people start and finish this process without any help from an attorney. That might work fine for some people; for others, not so well. Some people begin and then start feeling overwhelmed. This book will take the mystery out of the process. You want to do this right the first time: there are at least an equal number of post-divorce modifications filed in Arizona as there are first-time divorces. (Modifications are changes that are filed to change the original paperwork; often, these modifications are necessitated by mistakes made in the original divorce).

This introductory chapter outlines various aspects of the divorce process that are dealt with in more detail in succeeding chapters. A glossary of family law terms appears at the back of the book, as well as some useful Arizona statutes (laws) and a resource guide for online assistance in Arizona.

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.

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.

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