Most parents place the welfare of their children above almost anything else. Therefore, when the parents of a child decide to divorce, a critical consideration in the divorce involves determining a child custody arrangement that is in the child's best interest. Parents often disagree as to how custody should be divided, and custody battles can quickly become contentious. If you need assistance with a child custody matter, it is crucial to engage a family law attorney as soon as possible to assist you in protecting your parental rights. At Stromfors Law Office, our experienced Mesa child custody lawyers will assertively advocate on your behalf and help you develop a custody arrangement that is beneficial to your child and allows you to retain your parenting privileges. We have represented residents of Maricopa County in child custody cases for almost 20 years and will work tirelessly to help you seek a successful outcome.Child Custody in Divorce Cases
The majority of custody cases arise out of divorce proceedings. If the divorcing parents are able to develop a custody arrangement to which they both agree, the court will approve the plan if it determines that it is in the child’s best interests. If the parties are not able to come to an agreement, each parent is required to submit a parenting plan. The court will review the parties’ plans but will ultimately issue a parenting plan that it determines to be in the best interests of the child.Child Custody in Cases Involving Unmarried Parents
When the parents of a child are not married, either parent can institute proceedings to establish paternity. In addition to establishing paternity, either party can request that the court determine each parent’s rights and obligations regarding legal decision-making and parenting time as a part of the proceedings. If paternity is established, the court may award the father parenting time and legal decision-making rights. A child custody attorney in the Mesa area can guide you through this process.Legal Decision-Making Authority
What is generally called legal custody is known as legal decision-making under Arizona law. Legal decision-making is the authority to make important decisions about a child's education, religious practices, and health care. The court may grant one parent sole legal decision-making rights. In most cases, however, the court will find that a parenting plan that permits both parents to exercise legal decision-making rights is in the child’s best interests. If the parties are granted joint legal decision-making rights, neither party’s rights are superior, unless specified by the court.Parenting Time
In Arizona, parenting time is the term used for what is typically called physical custody. Parenting time is the time during which a parent has access to the child and is responsible for providing for the child’s needs. Shared legal decision-making authority does not mean equal parenting time. Even if a parent is not granted sole or joint legal decision-making rights, he or she may still be granted parenting time, unless the court finds that allowing the parent any access to the child is not in the child’s best interests. Our Mesa child custody attorneys can help explain how your preferred parenting time arrangement fits your child’s best interests.Factors Considered in Developing a Parenting Plan
Factors that the court will consider in determining how to divide legal decision-making rights and parenting time include each parent’s present, past, and future relationship with the child, the child's adjustment to his or her home and community, and the mental and physical health of the parents and the child. If the child is of an appropriate maturity, the court may also consider the child's wishes. The court will also consider whether there are any detrimental factors that weigh against a parent, such as domestic violence, coercion in attempting to obtain a parenting agreement, or denying the other parent access to the child. The parenting plan will designate legal decision-making authority and a schedule of parenting time, and it will set forth additional information regarding exchanges of the child and communications regarding the child.Speak With a Knowledgeable Child Custody Lawyer in the Mesa Area
Child custody cases can be combative, and it is easy to lose sight of the objective to provide an arrangement that is beneficial for the child. If you anticipate that you will be involved in a child custody proceeding, it is essential to retain a knowledgeable attorney to assist you in obtaining a resolution efficiently and respectfully. The skilled family law attorneys at Stromfors Law Office will work tirelessly to help you pursue your desired outcome in your child custody case. We represent people in child custody cases throughout Maricopa County. We can be contacted at (480) 237-1276 or via the form online to set up a meeting regarding your case.