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Child Custody

What Does ‘Best Interests of the Child’ Really Mean?

Best Interest of the Child

If you are currently going through a dispute over the custody of your child, you may have heard the phrase “best interests of the child” and wondered exactly what it means. The best interests of the child standard is defined as a legal standard that is used by courts in Arizona when they are making decisions about legal decision-making and parenting time in child custody cases. In Arizona, courts use a number of factors that are outlined in A.R.S § 25-403 help them to decide where the child will live and who will be able to make important decisions for him or her.

This article talks about:

  • What are the Standards for the Child’s best Interests?
  • What Factors are Considered?
  • Child Custody Disputes
  • Proving Best Interests Living with Parent
  • Getting Legal Help

 

In every case, the child’s interests are considered to be more important than the interests of either parent in regards to child custody and visitation. This makes it important for you to understand what the courts consider when they are making custody and visitation decisions.


What are the Standards for the Best Interest of the Child?

In child custody cases, judges focus on what is in the child’s best interests. This means that courts make decisions about custody and visitation with the goal of encouraging the child’s emotional development, mental health, security, and happiness so that he or she will grow to become a well-adjusted adult. In the past, courts generally favored the mothers when they made custody decisions. Now, there is greater recognition that the child’s best interests are best served by the child having the ability to develop a close relationship with both parents. While the ability to develop close relationships with both parents is important for a child, getting the parents to promote their child’s development of a close relationship with the child’s other parent is a common problem in child custody disputes.

It is important for you to try to make the decisions in your custody case in your child’s best interests. The decisions that you make or that the court makes for you will ultimately affect your child and your relationship with him or her for years.

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Who Gets the Pets After a Divorce?

Who gets Pet After a Divorce in Arizona

Most people would agree that they view their pets as members of their families. They may treat their dogs as if they are children in a divorce. People purchase toys for their dogs, send them to obedience school, and use a similar sing-songy tone of voice when they speak to the dogs that they use with small children. When people divorce, it is little wonder that they may have bitter disputes over who will get their cats or dogs. Battles over pets in divorce cases can become ugly, and some couples will spend thousands of dollars in fees to try to win custody of their pets. While people might view their pets as their children, the law treats them differently. Here is what you should know about how pets are treated in divorce cases.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, almost 57% of U.S. households own pets. Approximately 38% of people who own pets own at least one dog, and 25% own cats. According to a survey by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, pet custody disputes are increasing. In that survey, the AAML found that cases in which pet custody disputes were allowed had increased by 22% over the preceding five years. Of the disputes, 88% involved disputes over dogs while 5% involved disputes over cats. Overall, 27% of the lawyers said that they had noticed an increase in the number of clients who had disputes over their pets.


How are Pets Viewed by Arizona Courts?

Under A.R.S. § 25-211, all of the property that a couple accumulates during a marriage is considered to be the community property of both spouses. Historically, pets have been viewed as a type of personal property and have simply been awarded to one spouse or another just like other types of property such as cars, furniture, art collections, and etc. Some courts will not allow people to argue about pet custody since the judges view the pets as just another type of property. In cases in which the pets were acquired for very little money, the judges may be unwilling to entertain arguments about who will get them.

This is changing, however. More courts are allowing arguments about the custody of pets in recognition of the importance that they have in people’s lives. In three states, including California, Illinois, and Alaska, there are now laws in place that provide factors for courts to consider in contested pet disputes in divorces. Arizona does not have such a law, however, which means that not all judges will agree to hear arguments about the custody of pets. California’s law outlines a number of factors that judges can consider when determining who will get the pets, including the following:

  • Which person feeds the pet?
  • Which person paid for or adopted the pet?
  • Which person pays for the pet’s food and toys?
  • Which person walks the pet?
  • Which person takes the pet to see the veterinarian?
  • Which person spends more time with the pet?
  • Whether there have been allegations of animal abuse against either spouse?

Read More about Pets During a Divorce…

Legal Separation vs Divorce in Arizona

Legal Separation vs Divorce in Arizona

What is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

While a legal separation is uncommon, it is still used by some couples in lieu of divorces. There are several reasons why people choose legal separation instead of a divorce. In some cases, it may make more sense for a couple to become legally separated while in others, it may be better to file for divorce. Before deciding which you want to choose, it is important that you understand the differences between legal separation and divorce and the potential benefits and drawbacks of each.

Legal separation has some similarities to divorce but has some key differences. When a couple gets divorced, it terminates their marriage. Their property, assets, and debts are divided between them, and the court issues orders regarding child custody, child support, and possibly, spousal maintenance. When a couple chooses legal separation instead of divorce, it is a formal process through which a couple separates without getting divorced. The court will issue orders about the division of the property and debts, child custody and support, and possibly, spousal maintenance. However, the couple will still be married.

People who are legally separated still must answer that they are married on their tax forms and on other forms. They also are not free to marry other people since they are married. While many couples who get legal separations will eventually divorce, some choose to remain legally separated instead of getting divorced for a variety of reasons. If a legally separated couple does choose to eventually divorce, the orders from their legal separation will be incorporated into their divorce decree.

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5 Common Questions About Divorce when Children are Involved

Common Questions to Divorce in Arizona

In certain cases, going through a divorce with children involved can be an overwhelming situation. Ultimately, it comes down to what is best for the children and both parties coming to an agreement in the end. In Arizona, there are two types of legal divorce motions: contested and uncontested.

The definition of an uncontested divorce means merely that one spouse has filed a petition for divorce and the other spouse is choosing not to respond in court. In an uncontested divorce, the terms of the divorce are agreed upon by both spouses, allowing the process to be completed by simply filing for the divorce and receiving a judgment.

A contested divorce can be much more difficult to work through. In a contested divorce, one spouse files for divorce, but the other spouse challenges the terms. When this happens, it’s beneficial to have an Arizona divorce attorney on your side to guide you through the process and represent your interests in court. Your attorney can offer you legal counsel to help you make informed decisions about financial assets, child custody, spousal support, and real property disputes.

Below are the main Differences Between a Contested Divorce and Uncontested Divorce.

  • Contested divorces may end up in court.
  • Uncontested divorces are often faster to finalize.
  • Contested divorces could require disclosure of financial assets.
  • Uncontested divorces are usually settled out of court.
  • Contested divorces are usually best left to an attorney.
  • Uncontested divorces may require little legal intervention.

 


1. How is the Divorce Process Started in Arizona?

Each state might handle the divorce process, but in Arizona it begins when a Petition for Divorce is filed. This action is the actual legal filing of the paperwork outlining the desire to dissolve a marriage by the filing spouse. Your divorce attorney will handle this part of the process, but there are some stipulations involved that are specific to Arizona. Either you or your spouse is required to be a resident of the state for at least 90 days before the filing of the petition for divorce.

Read More about Common Question About Divorce with Chidren…

Social Media Pitfalls In A Contested Divorce

In the state of Arizona, a contested divorce occurs when the spouses cannot mutually agree on the terms of the dissolution of their marriage. The most common issues of contention in a divorce are generally child custody, child support, and division of marital assets. In such a situation both parties retain independent counsel and battle it out in family court with a judge having the final say on any and all contentious issues.

No Fault Divorce In Arizona

The divorce statute in Arizona requires both parties to state that their marriage is irretrievably broken whereby the court conducts a hearing to see if the parties can be reconciled. In that hearing if both parties agree to proceed with the divorce, the court usually grants the divorce. However, if one party objects, the court may call for a conciliation conference.

Common Fault Grounds For Divorce In Arizona

In the past, a reason was required to proceed with a divorce such as undue cruelty or infidelity. No fault divorces were introduced so that parties do not have to allege a reason in order to separate. In the case of a contested divorce, fault may be cited in order to gain an advantage in custody proceedings or division of marital assets. The fault grounds for divorce laid out in Arizona Statutes are as follows:

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Dealing With Situations Involving Domestic Violence

Domestic violence refers to violence between spouses or intimate partners. During a divorce, domestic violence can play a role in several aspects such as: determining child custody or legal guardianship. Typically, domestic violence is generally both physical and psychological in nature. In the majority of states, domestic violence is defined as conduct which threatens to cause or actually causes injury between:

  • Family members
  • Spouses
  • Residents of the same household

Although the issue of domestic violence is a serious problem which is prevalent around the world violating the fundamental human rights of women and often resulting results in serious or fatal injury. The statistics vary widely on the prevalence of domestic violence however, it should be kept in mind that women are not the only victims of domestic violence, in certain cases men suffer as well albeit women significantly outweigh men as victims in this regard. According to US Department of Justice reports, the majority of the victims from 1994–2010 were women. Although women may also use violence against intimate partners, their use of violence is distinct from men’s use of violence in more ways than one.

According to statistics, the issue of domestic violence is prevalent worldwide. According to a report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2013 entitled, “Global and Regional Estimates of Violence Against Women: Prevalence and Health Effects of Intimate Partner Violence and Non-Partner Sexual Violence,” it was estimated that 30% of women worldwide are victims of abuse perpetrated by their spouses or intimate partners. The report further stated that over 38% of women murdered worldwide are victims of their significant other and 42% of women that were sexually or physically abused were subjected to such treatment by their intimate partner.

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How Does the Adoption Process Work?

Adoption refers to taking the responsibility of a child for a lifetime. Similar to legal guardianship, it requires preparation along with dedication. Most of the time, adoption turns out to be in favor of the adopted child. However, problems may arise like adjustment issues, interaction with new parents, exposure to a different and unaccustomed way of living, and sometimes even different ethnicities or culture.

To adopt a child, the adoption process and challenges must be known. Adoption preparation programs are held at different adoption agencies, hospitals, colleges, religious groups and various organizations. Getting advice from friends or relatives who have adopted children before can also prove to be helpful.

How does Adoption work?

There are several types of adoptions, each of which has a different set of rules and regulations. Foreign adoption, for example, depends upon the country of origin and the position of the child. Adoption within the United States can be domestic (with the help of an agency), independent (without the help of an agency) or through a foster care system. All these types of adoptions have different advantages and disadvantages.

Foreign Adoption

Adoption from overseas can be expensive as well as lengthy. The country of origin of the child affects the process of adoption. If the country of the child is a part of Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, “Hague process” will have to be followed. This process requires you to find an adoption provider in the country of your choice through USCIS. You will have to approve yourself eligible for adopting a child. Get the child you want to adopt, complete all the paperwork and then get your adopted child legally recognized through immigration.

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Things To Know About Child Custody In Arizona Divorce

According to Arizona laws, child custody in divorce cases takes the best interests of the child in consideration. Divorce is not an easy process and if you fight over issues like child custody, alimony, child support etc., it will only make matters worse. Going through a divorce with children can be one of the toughest experiences in life. You need all the strength, help and support in order to go through the process and finally put this phase of your life behind you. For that to happen, it is advised to get in touch with a qualified and experienced divorce attorney who understands the divorce process and can help you through it.

Understanding the Legal Process

When it comes to child custody in divorce cases, both parents need to come to an agreement as to who will be the primary custodial parent. They can use methods like mediation or collaboration, or simply come to a mutual decision. However, if they fail to resolve matters on their own or by getting help from dispute resolution methods, they can seek help from the Arizona state court. In most cases, it is advised to come to an understanding on your own without the court getting involved because you don’t know what the judge would do.

To help you through the process, get help from an experienced family law attorney in Arizona. The lawyer should be hired as early in the process as possible for proper guidance. The attorney will know how to protect your rights and will make sure that a fair agreement is reached between both spouses. A knowledgeable divorce attorney will fight for your rights and will take decisions that are in the best interests of your children.

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Deciding What is Best For Your Child During Divorce

Going Through a Divorce? How to Decide What’s Best for Your Child

It goes without saying that divorce can be really difficult. It can be even more difficult when kids are thrown into the equation. As if things weren’t already complicated enough, you and your spouse are now having to figure out what the best situation for your child will be. Who will they live with the majority of the time? Where will their holidays be spent? How will decisions be made about medical care or schooling? The list of questions can feel infinite, so how do you and your spouse decide what the best possible scenario will be for your child as the two of you part ways? (more…)

Planning a Summer Trip with Your Kids as a Divorced Parent

Summer vacation is the perfect time to plan a getaway with your children and may be even more important now, particularly if you have shared custody with your ex. Maybe you promised a week long camping excursion or a memorable road trip cross country to view all the “must see” national landmarks. While planning a vacation with your children is the perfect way to have a bonding adventure, be careful what you promise until you have discussed your vacation plans with your ex.

A weekend or even a week away, especially during the summer time, may seem easy to do, but you need to make sure that you’re not violating your custody agreement or interfering with your ex spouse’s schedule with your kids. Here are a few tips to plan the perfect summer getaway with your kids, without infringing on arrangements made during your divorce:

Communicate

If you and your ex spouse do not communicate well, it’s time to start mastering the art of keeping in touch, for the sake of your children. You and your ex may not be effective communicators when face to face, but you can e-mail, text, share online calendars, or talk on the telephone. As soon as you start thinking about summer plans, begin the conversation with your ex. The summer fills up fast with extra curricular activities and various family and friend gatherings. Don’t miss your chance to plan a vacation.

Be Respectful of Schedules

You may have a family reunion or wedding to attend on a weekend that your ex is scheduled to have your children, but don’t assume that you will be able to take your children. It’s important to notify your ex about the event as soon as you find out and see if you can agree on a substitute schedule. Always follow the rules of your custody agreement and if major problems arise or reoccur, talk with your divorce lawyer.

Don’t Make the Trip About You

Going on vacation with your kids can be an unforgettable experience, but make sure you’re not making the trip about you. Even though you may not have an amicable relationship with your ex, keep in mind that your children may want to keep in contact with their other parent while away from home. Never make them feel guilty for wanting to make a phone call to check in or if they say they “miss” the other parent. When planning your trip, talk with your ex and figure out times/ways to communicate while you’re traveling. Not only should you allow your children to speak with the other parent, but your ex should also respect your time alone with your kids and shouldn’t spend a great deal of time interfering with your vacation.

While you may want to make your vacation a “trip to remember”, resist the urge to overspend and buying your children whatever they want. Sometimes, without intention, one parent may come across as trying to be the “good” or “fun” parent. If you plan a great vacation, you shouldn’t have to buy your children’s happiness. Additionally, if you pay for child support, you need to keep your finances in order. The money you spend on a vacation cannot be exchanged with any amount of child support.

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