Every situation and pregnancy are different. Even if you are in the “honeymoon” phase of your relationship, but you are not married to your child’s father, it is a good idea to know your legal rights. These rights may impact how you raise your child.
If you are being abused or your child’s father has mental health or drug use issues, it is even more crucial to know your rights to protect your child’s safety. Knowing your rights is not about keeping your child away from the child’s parent, but only about ensuring your child’s safety with that parent. Creating a plan while you are pregnant may help avoid future issues.
Here are common questions we get asked:
We have many mothers-to-be meet with us before the baby is born to learn what they are allowed to do in preparation for the birth of the child! If this is you, please feel free to set up a consultation so that we may answer these specific questions for your situation. Above all, we hope that you have a safe and peaceful pregnancy!
SB1127 was enacted in 2013 and it changed some aspects of Arizona family law. One of the biggest changes was abolishing the term “custody” in family law because of the common misconceptions and confusion surrounding the term. The important thing to remember about this new law is that only the terms have changed; the two basic questions (listed above) regarding children and family law have remained the same.
“Legal decision-making” means the legal right and responsibility to make all non-emergency legal decisions for a child including those regarding education, health care, religious training and personal care decisions. For the purposes of interpreting or applying any international treaty, federal law, a uniform code or the statutes of other jurisdictions of the United States, legal decision-making means legal custody.
A.R.S. § 25-401
“Parenting time” means the schedule of time during which each parent has access to a child at specified times. Each parent during their scheduled parenting time is responsible for providing the child with food, clothing and shelter and may make routine decisions concerning the child’s care.
A.R.S. § 25-408(a)
Rights of a noncustodial parent: “…both parents are entitled to custody or parenting time and both parents reside in the state, at least forty five days advance written notice shall be provided to the other parent before a parent may (1) relocate the child outside the state (2) relocate the child more than one hundred miles within the state.
Custody is essential everything included with raising a child. It includes: Physical Custody – “Parenting Time” authority Legal Custody – “Legal Decision-Making”
The Best Interests of a Child is a standard by which a court determines what arrangements would be to a child’s greatest benefit, often used in deciding decision-making and parenting time matters and in deciding whether to approve an adoption or a guardianship.
Parenting time means the schedule of time during which each parent has access to a child at specified times. Each parent during their scheduled parenting time is responsible for providing the child with food, clothing and shelter and may make routine decisions concerning the child’s care.
Visitation means a schedule of time that occurs with a child by someone other than a legal parent.
Legal decision-making means the legal right and responsibility to make all non-emergency legal decisions for a child including those regarding education, health care, religious training and personal care decisions. Legal decision-making means legal custody.
Sole legal decision-making means one parent has the legal right and responsibility to make major decisions for a child.
Both parents have the legal right and share the responsibility to make all non-emergency legal decisions for a child including education, health care, religion and personal care.
Legal parent means a biological or adoptive parent whose parental rights have not been terminated. Legal parent does not include a person whose paternity has not been established pursuant to section 25-812 or 25-814.
First, congratulations! An exciting time! There is nothing you are required to do once you find out you are pregnant. We recommend following your doctor’s advice and staying as healthy as possible during your pregnancy. Some mothers tell baby’s father at this time; however, due to safety and personal reasons, some mother’s wait until after the baby is born.
None. In fact, under ARS 13-1302, mothers have sole legal rights to the child until (1) paternity has been established, and (2) a parenting plan or time schedule has been ordered by the Court. Until that time, the unmarried mother has sole legal decision-making over the baby. That means that the mother can decide all decisions for the child including medical, educational, and personal care decisions. If a mother does not want the father to see the child before rights have been established, she is able to withhold parenting time. This may or may not be in the baby’s best interest, which is for the mother to decide until there is a Court order changing it.
To obtain court-ordered child support from the baby’s father, you will need to file a Petition to Establish Paternity and Child Support in the court system. This filing does not give the father legal rights for decision-making and parenting time; however, once a father is served with the Establishment paperwork, it is common for the father to file for legal decision-making and parenting time. If you file the paperwork for child support, you and the baby’s father can agree to an amount. In the event you cannot agree, the Court will order the child support pursuant to the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. There is a formula that the Court is required to follow for child support.
We recommend informing your doctor of the abuse, leaving the abusive relationship, and doing what is necessary to keep yourself and your unborn baby safe. There are many resources available if you find yourself pregnant and in an abusive relationship. Legally, you may need to file an Order of Protection to keep the baby’s father away from you. If these situations are applicable to you, please feel free to schedule a consultation with us so we can discuss your options.
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