Arizona Child Custody & Visitation

Mesa Child Custody Lawyer - Fighting for Your Rights

It is important to remember that children need both of their parents even when their parents are divorcing. This is commonly known as Child Custody, Arizona specifically uses "Decision Making" and "Parenting Time" to refer to Child Custody. Legal Decision making refers to the legal and practical rights over a child - including where the child attends schools, what doctor a child will visit, what religion a child will be indoctrinated in and how one or both of the parents or guardians make that decision. Parenting Time is the time allocation the child has with each parent and often encompasses transportation liabilities, dietary considerations, communication issues such as telephe and Skype access to with the children, as well as address of daily habits both parents agree or are required by Legal Decision making orders to instill in the child. At the Law Office of Donna M. Hougen, we strongly advocate for you and your children when it comes to settling or litigating your Legal Decision making authority. We work - preferably through mediation, but always with preparedness to litigate - to reach results that are in the best interests of your children and that work for you and the parties involved. This approach can lead to a faster and more cost-effective resolution of your child custody matters.

Determining what's in the best interests of the children

The focus of a child custody case must be kept on the child. We understand Arizona Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time laws and can guide you through the legal process so you can achieve your custody goals. Arizona family courts determine custody (Parenting Time and Legal Decision Making) based on the best interests of the child, taking into consideration specific criteria that can include the following factors:

  • The child's wishes
  • Each parent's wishes
  • The child's adjustment to home, school and community
  • Any history of domestic violence or child abuse
  • Whether the parents have provided primary care of the child
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
  • The child's relationship with each parent
  • Each parent's willingness to foster a meaningful and substantial relationship with the other parent

Types of child custody arrangements

The best interests of a child often require the participation and cooperation of both parents. We can help parents reach agreement on the terms of child custody in a parenting plan, the court may order the terms, or the final determination may include elements of both.

  • Parenting Time - Determines whom a child lives with - one or both parents.
  • Decision Making - Grants one parent or jointly to both parents the right to make decisions about how a child will be raised with regard to religion, medical care, education. One parent may have ultimate decision making authority.
  • Joint Decision Making or Joint Parenting Time - Grants joint legal decision making or joint physical custody or both to each parent if parents can jointly agree on all issues of their child's upbringing. Joint Parenting Time does not necessarily mean equal parenting time.
  • Sole Decision Making or Sole Parenting Time - Grants one parent the legal decision making or physical access or both over the child.

When a court will not grant decision making or physical parenting time

An Arizona family court will grant most parents some form of visitation and legal decision making, however some people are not granted any decision making authority or unsupervised parenting time. Parents who put their child at risk of being around dangerous people or a parent if there is a risk of danger to a child can have their children removed from them. The following are presumed dangerous people who generally cannot have care, custody and control of a minor child:

  • Significant history of substance abuse offenses
  • Murder conviction without special supervening circumstances
  • Conviction for being a sexual offender

Deciding who gets custody of the children

When you need help with child custody matters in the Mesa, Arizona area, call the Law Office of Donna M. Hougen at (480) 535-8422 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.