Arizona allows married couples to seek either a legal separation or a divorce. Individuals facing relationship difficulties should explore both of these options to make the best decision for their needs.
Defining Separation and Divorce
With a legal separation, the couple remains married, but each spouse retains separate housing. If they decide to reconcile, they can simply move back into a shared home. Divorce is the permanent legal end to a marriage. A couple cannot reverse their divorce unless they get legally remarried again.
Deciding on Separation or Divorce
A married couple may choose legal separation instead of divorce if:
- They want to retain eligibility for shared benefits such as healthcare or Social Security.
- They are unsure if they want to permanently end the relationship.
- They do not yet meet the residency requirements to file for divorce in Arizona.
- They disagree with divorce on moral or religious grounds.
- Remaining married carries tax advantages.
Divorce makes more sense when the couple does not plan to reconcile. For example, after legal separation, one or both spouses may enter other relationships and decide to move forward with a divorce.
Reviewing the Process
Couples can file for either legal separation or divorce in Arizona if one or both spouses have lived in the state for at least 90 days. The person requesting the legal separation or divorce must file a petition in the county where they live. Both separation and divorce petitions require the requestor to state the reason for the filing. He or she must also indicate the couple’s arrangement for property division, child custody, spousal support, and child support. Pintel Law Firm PLLC provides free consultations to Phoenix couples considering legal separation or divorce to answer their questions and help guide them through the next steps. Call (480) 771-4154 or complete our online form to request an appointment today.
Child custody is one of the foremost concerns for families that are going through a divorce. With this overview of Arizona’s child custody laws, parents can be more prepared for the legal custody determination process.
Legal Vs. Physical Custody
When parents are unable to agree on custody terms, the Arizona courts will decide both physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the child’s primary residence. Legal custody describes the right of each parent to participate in significant decisions on the child’s behalf, such as choosing a doctor or a school. Both physical and legal custody can be shared or awarded solely to one parent. However, even when one parent has sole custody, the other parent retains visitation rights if they don’t have a history of neglect or abuse. Also, unless a court order has been filed that says otherwise, a lack of physical or legal custody does not remove a parent’s right to access their child’s medical or school records.
Factors in Determining Custody
Some Arizona courts require parents who dispute custody matters to attend mediation. If this does not result in an agreement, the judge will decide on behalf of the family. This decision is made based on the arrangement that is in the child’s best interest, with consideration of:
- The wishes of each parent
- The wishes of the child
- The willingness of each parent to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent
- The child’s familiarity with their current home, school, family, and community
- The physical and mental health of the child and both parents
- The child’s current relationship with his or her parents and siblings
- Any history of substance use, domestic violence, or other conduct that could negatively impact the child’s emotional, physical, or mental health
Relocation and Custody
When one parent has physical custody, he or she must inform the other parent at least 60 days in advance before moving to a different state or anywhere that’s more than 100 miles away from the other parent within Arizona. The non-custodial parent can then contest this move based on the negative impact it may have on his or her ability to maintain consistent contact with the child. Parents who need a compassionate child custody attorney should consult Pintel Law Firm PLLC. We strive to help every family find an arrangement that suits their needs. To schedule a free consultation about child custody, call (480) 771-4154 or reach out online. Se habla español.
Child custody is a major fighting point in most divorce cases and there are many times that custody and visitation issues find their way to the family court. For couples involved in divorce proceedings in Arizona, it is important to understand how the court rules on custody issues. At the same time, parents fighting for custody rights should appreciate the crucial role of a dedicated family lawyer. In deciding who gets custody, there are several factors courts in Arizona consider, including:
The Best Interests of the Child
The overriding factor in deciding custody cases is the best interest of the child. The goal of family court is to ensure that children are safe and adjust well. A family court judge will review every piece of evidence, witness testimony, and any other argument in line with the best interest of the child.
The court will look at the status quo when making custody decisions to avoid drastic disruption in the child’s life. While change is inevitable after divorce, the courts in Arizona go to great lengths to minimize disruption. The child’s primary caregiver will have the upper hand in custody hearings, so parents should provide sufficient documentation to support any such claims. A family lawyer can arrange for such evidence to strengthen the parent’s claim to custody rights.
Some parents agree on custody before or during the divorce proceedings. In such cases, the parents’ wishes influence custody decisions. While the court is inclined to approve such wishes, the child’s best interest always comes first.
In line with catering for a child’s best interests, the court will also consider which parent can offer the most stable environment. It is important to note that stability does not only refer to money but all-round support for the child. This includes availability, a regular routine, and a safe and clean living environment. The parents have to prove to the court that they can offer this.
The wishes of the child carry the least influence in the court’s decision on custody cases. Age can be a big factor in demoting the child’s wishes in custody decisions; however, the court will still factor these wishes in its ruling. Parents have to prove a quality relationship with the child to increase the chances of winning custody.
Contact a Family Lawyer
Custody cases are complex and emotionally draining, but good legal representation can strengthen a parent or guardian’s custody case. Pintel Law Firm PLLC offers dedicated legal representation in child custody cases in Arizona. Need help with a child custody case in the Phoenix metropolitan area? Contact us today for a free consultation.
Domestic violence has lasting effects on its victims; child witnesses often suffer psychological and emotional trauma. It’s important for victims and their families to understand the broad spectrum of domestic violence, legal consequences for the abuser, and how to help children move forward from their experiences.
What Is Considered Domestic Violence?
The scope of domestic violence includes a number of behaviors that may or may not include physical contact. While laws regarding this issue vary by state, the State of Arizona considers the following, among others, domestic violence offenses:
- Threatening or intimidating (includes via electronic device)
- Custodial interference
- Disorderly conduct
- Criminal trespass
- Preventing a victim from using a telephone to make a 911 call
How Does Witnessing Domestic Violence Impact a Child?
Children need to be confident in the safety and protection provided by their parents or guardians in order to feel secure. When they witness domestic violence, that safety net can be broken. They may withdraw from loved ones or display atypical behavioral issues, which can eventually manifest as serious issues if not addressed. Children don’t need to visually experience domestic violence to suffer its effects; trauma has also been noted in children who have heard the offenses take place.
What Are Potential Legal Repercussions for the Abuser?
If a judge determines that a parent has committed a domestic violence offense against the other parent, their custody rights can be seriously affected. Judges grant custody based on what they deem to be optimal environments for children. Parents should be able to provide basic care as well as measures to ensure the complete health and well-being of the child. Domestic violence may impact the judge’s opinion on this matter.
What Should Be Done for the Child?
There are steps that can be taken to ensure that children who have witnessed domestic violence receive the help they need. First, the abused parent and child witness should immediately relocate to a safe environment, whether it is at a family member’s residence or a local shelter. Then, an order of protection can be filed to prohibit legal contact. Finally, counseling services can assist children in processing their experiences in an age-appropriate manner, allowing them to move forward in the healing process. At Pintel Law Firm PLLC, we’re dedicated to representing our clients during difficult times in their lives and helping them rebuild for a better future. If you’re a victim of domestic violence and have questions about how to protect yourself and your child, contact us right away at (480) 771-4154 for a free consultation.