Unfortunately, children are usually the ones who suffer most when their parents separate. While we believe most children hope their parents stay together because they love both parents and want to be with both of them, if parents are in disagreement and constant conflict, that causes extra stress for the children.
One of the most painful things for children is when one parent tries to keep them from the other. Traditionally, this happens most often when women have the child full-time and try to deny the father access, but both women and men have been guilty of this.
Sadly, the ones who get hurt when one parent tries to alienate the other are the children. Parental alienation can also occur in other ways, such as when one parent says negative things about the other in an attempt to be the favorite parent or to otherwise keep the child from having a good relationship with that parent.
The long-term effects on the child can be very detrimental, so it needs to be addressed if you find out about it.
Fathers Have Rights
Traditionally, men’s role in their children’s lives was downplayed by society and even by their own family members. Women were seen in their stereotypical “nurturing” roles, while men were considered the ones who earn money. Men often ended up not being able to spend time around their children because of these prejudices.
There is no question that it is best for the children to have meaningful contact with both parents, so long as both parents are fit to do so.
Too often, men give up on trying to play a major part in their children’s lives because they think that they won’t stand a chance in a system they believe values the mother’s role over the father’s.
Men need to learn that they have rights too and that it is important for them to exercise their rights not just for themselves, but for the sake of the children. The father’s rights are just as important as the mother’s parental rights. Too many custody cases happen because one parent is trying to have complete control over the child unfairly.
Can One Parent Take the Child From the Other?
If two parents are married, but there is no court order, one parent can technically take the child. If you have never been married, and there is no court order, the mother can basically do anything she wants until paternity has been established.
Typically, it is important to establish paternity, child support, and custody as soon as possible in a child’s life, not just for financial reasons but to ensure the stability of the child.
If something happens to the mother, and the father has not established paternity, the courts will have to figure out who will take care of the child from that point on.
This can be more difficult if someone waits until the other parent isn’t around anymore because they might not even get notice of the tragedy if they haven’t asserted their rights already. Establishing paternity is just the first step in asserting your legal rights as a father.
Unmarried parents can make sure the father establishes paternity early and gets his name on the birth certificate and sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity to avoid later problems.
Another way to establish paternity in Arizona is to get a court order, and sometimes paternity is established when child services become involved in the child’s life.
If you have any questions about how to establish paternity, call our office and schedule a consultation with a family law attorney.
Arizona Child Custody Considerations
When two parents want to establish a custody order and a child support order, they may be able to make an agreement so that they can avoid an actual custody battle in family court.
A family law attorney for each party, representing their interests individually, can help them work toward an agreement that is in the best interest of the child.
However, even if the parties agree, they should keep in mind the factors that are considered under Arizona law when determining the best arrangement for custody of a child. Below are a few of the factors the taken into consideration:
- What is the child’s relationship with each parent, and with the other household members of each parent?
- Are there any health problems that would keep one parent from being able to fulfill all the necessary duties as a parent?
- Has there been domestic violence in the household?
- What other factors might affect the well-being of the child, such as a forced change in schools or move to a new neighborhood?
Custody Laws/Visitation Rights in the State of Arizona
Unlike many other states, Arizona law no longer uses the term “custody,” using different terms such as parenting time and legal decision-making.
Instead of “physical custody,” the courts in Arizona now refer to an arrangement of parenting time.
There are variations on parenting time schedules depending on what is in the best interests of the minor child.
Parents can exercise equal parenting time and there are a few schedules that commonly work for most parents. Or, if it is in the best interests of the child, one parent might be designated primary residential parent with the other parent exercising parenting time on a less than equal basis.
Additionally, if it is in the best interests of the child, one parent’s parenting time may need to be supervised. If you have questions about what schedule is appropriate for your specific situation, please speak with an experienced family law attorney.
In Arizona, “legal custody” is called Legal Decision-Making Authority. This refers to the parents ability to make educational, medical, religious, and personal care decisions for the child.
Parent’s exercise either, joint legal decision-making, joint legal decision-making with one parent having final say decision-making authority, or one parent has sole legal decision-making authority.
Fighting for Your Rights
As the father of the child, you have certain rights. If you are frustrated because you feel that you were taken advantage of in a prior custody agreement or that you aren’t getting all the visits allowed on your visitation schedule, you are not alone and there are remedies to those problems.
Family law issues are almost always stressful. Most people want the best for their children, but when emotions get involved, even people who care about each other will often hurt each other.
At Burggraff Tash Levy PLC, we understand how difficult it is when you are dealing with such an important issue. You can explain the situation in confidence because you will have attorney-client privilege so that we can help you find the best solution that works for your family.
You can get legal advice from one of the experienced attorneys at our law firm before you give up on your desire to have equal rights to your child.