A Goal-Oriented and Compassionate Lawyer Protecting Your Parent-Child Relationship
The most emotional, and often the most contested, area of divorce disputes tends to be child custody and visitation. Parents naturally seek to put their children's interests first when the family is breaking up, but the stakes are high if you wish to maintain and nurture strong parent-child relationships through and beyond the stressful time of divorce. The patterns and dynamics fostered between parents and children during and after a marital breakup can set the tone for a lifetime. Attorney Elizabeth J. Martinez is an experienced and compassionate attorney who has worked with many families in this process before and knows how to approach custody negotiations in a way that is healthy for you and your child. She will discuss your goals and needs for the case and do her best to help you avoid high-conflict tensions that might affect your child.
Let Martinez Family Law help you preserve your relationship with your child following a divorce. Call (480) 571-7736 or contact us online for a free consultation today.
Separating parents can settle a custody arrangement on their own through negotiation, but if they cannot reach a mutual agreement, they must go to court for the judge to make the final custody and visitation decision.
Arizona law recognizes 2 categories of custody – legal (decision-making authority) physical (parenting time). Parents may hold legal custody either jointly or solely. Physical custody will be determined by a parenting time schedule based on the child’s best interests (below). Joint legal custody is the norm in Arizona, though sole legal decision-making may be granted to one parent in circumstances where there has been significant domestic violence, alcohol abuse, or drug abuse.
Note that if the court awards one parent primary physical custody or parenting time (the child lives with that parent more than half of the time), the other parent will be considered the "non-custodial" parent and will receive reasonable parenting time. In most situations, the non-custodial parent will typically have time with the child every other weekend, every other holiday, and half of all school breaks and vacations. According to Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-403.03, this parent must provide proof to the court that visitation will not endanger the child or significantly impair the child’s emotional well-being.
With that in mind, the court recognizes that there may be some cases where visitation between a parent and child isn't healthy for the child's mental or physical health or safety, such as if the parent has a history of domestic violence. In such a case, the court may order supervised parenting time in the presence of a court-approved third-party or in a state-sanctioned visitation facility.
The primary guidelines a judge will consider to determine the custody arrangement are factors affecting the child’s best interests. More specifically, Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-403 (A) outlines the following best interest factors a judge might examine:
- the past, present, and potential future relationship between each parent and the child;
- each child's relationship with their parents, siblings, and anyone else who may affect the child's best interest;
- the child's adjustment to home, school, and community;
- the child and parents' mental and physical health;
- which parent is more likely to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent;
- whether a parent has a history domestic violence or child abuse;
- whether either parent has intentionally misled the court to gain an advantage in the litigation or made a false report about child abuse or neglect;
- the child's wishes, if the child is of mature and sound age; and
- other relevant factors.
How Martinez Family Law Will Help You Craft Your Parenting Plan
Child custody negotiations are deeply emotional and personal matters, as they largely determine your future relationship with your child. Attorney Elizabeth J. Martinez is an experienced custody lawyer with a heart for children, parents, and families. She derives professional and personal satisfaction from helping families navigate the challenges legal matters affecting their lives, including child custody and parenting time disputes.
Regardless of where you are in the divorce process, our firm can advise you toward a favorable outcome in your custody negotiation. For example, we’ve seen in past cases that attending children's school programs and doctors' visits can help document and verify your investment in your children's daily lives. We can make sure you take efforts like these to perhaps stand a better chance of getting more time with your children by convincing the judge that you are already very involved in their upbringing.
We can also help parents who are not the primary residential parent. Under the law, you are entitled to assert your parental rights through the process of child custody negotiations and litigation, and we will make sure these rights are not overridden by a custody decision not in your favor.
Attorney Martinez will provide level-headed legal guidance as you navigate an emotional negotiation that may give rise to heated tension. It is important not to use your children as pawns in a game of revenge on the other parent, and our steady counsel can help ensure that you do not fall into such a relationship war. We will handle the legal side of negotiating a favorable custody arrangement while you focus on your and your children’s:
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Emotional development
- Family ties
- Security and stability
Contact Martinez Family Law online or at (480) 571-7736 for a free consultation to start drafting your Scottsdale parenting plan today.
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