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Child Custody:

For your free initial telephonic divorce or family law consultation, please call McGuire Gardner, PLLC today to speak with an Arizona divorce lawyer experienced in family law cases. Our telephone number for Phoenix, and throughout Maricopa County is (480) 559-8101. Our in Flagstaff telephone number is (928) 225-2597, or call us toll free at (800) 899-2730. You may also contact us online or by email and we will reply promptly.

The determination on how parent's will share custody, both legal and physical, must always be focused on the best interests of the child.

The concept of custody encompasses two concepts: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody concerns decision-making with respect to decisions impacting the child, and physical custody determines parenting time.

If one parent is awarded sole custody, that parent generally has complete responsibility with respect to important decisions in the child's life. Most often, the parent who is not awarded custody will have visitation rights, sometimes referred to as parenting time.

Where the Court awards joint custody of the children, the parents share in the decisions that will impact their children. These decisions may include things such as where the child will go to school, choices related to medical care, religious practices and others. An award of joint legal custody does not impact child support. It deals only with the legal rights related to decision making. When joint legal custody is awarded, a parent may or may not also have joint physical custody of the child. This does not always mean that both parents will spend exactly the same amount of time with the child.

Visitation is typically ordered to ensure that the parent who does not have physical custody is still provided time with the child. As a general rule, the Court strives to ensure that both parents are present in the lives of the children where appropriate.

When considering visitation rights the Court will enter an order that provides visitation taking into account the age of the child. The parents, however, can vary this if they are in agreement. Of course, if a parent does not make an effort to see the child, the Court can not force them to do so. Typical visitation schedules take into account the weekday routine of the child, weekend time, and holiday and vacation issues.

In rare instances, supervised visitation can be ordered.. This means that when the non-custodial parent spends time with the child, someone else must be present. This type of arrangement is most common where there is a history of violence, substance abuse or poor parenting skills. It is intended for the protection of the child.

Importantly, child support issues do not impact visitation rights. Even if a parent is having difficulty paying support, the other parent is not entitled to deny visitation.. Issues of support are separate and apart from visitation and custody. Similarly, a parent who is ordered to pay support cannot withhold it because of issues with visitation.

Rarely will a Court order that a parent is not to have contact with a child. Such an order is rare and would be used only to protect the child where serious harm or abuse had occurred or was likely to occur.

Call McGuire Gardner for a free initial telephone consultation to discuss a custody arrangement that would be in your children's best interest.


For a free initial telephone consultation about your family law case, please call McGuire Gardner, PLLC at (480) 559-8101 or toll free at (800) 899-2730 to speak with an experienced attorney. You may also contact us online and we will reply promptly.

When a child is born to an unmarried couple, it is important for both parents and the child that paternity be established.

If the father wants to have any rights in the child's life, or if the mother wants to collect child support, paternity must be established. The father's name on a birth certificate raises a presumption of paternity, but to enforce legal rights, paternity must be established. To do this, a parent can file a case with the Court.

Parental obligations are the responsibility of both parents.. A mother or a father can file an action to establish paternity. After paternity is established by the Court, either parent can pursue their legal rights.

There are two ways to establish Paternity. Both parents can admit they are the parents of the child, or a genetic test can be done.. Arizona Courts allow DNA tests to determine paternity. We can help you understand your options, and if necessary, help you set up a paternity test.

If a parent denies paternity, either can be forced to allow a blood test to establish paternity.

Paternity is important for several reasons.. First, it is necessary to establish paternity before a father can be ordered by the Court to pay child support. Second, a father can enforce his rights to custody and visitation.

Paternity actions can involve a variety of issues. Typically, the Court will determine: who the father of the child is, what legal and physical custody arrangement is appropriate, support obligations and medical expense for the child.

Call McGuire Gardner for a free initial telephone consultation to discuss the importance of establishing paternity in your case.

Modification and Enforcement of Custody, Child Support, and Spousal Maintenance:

For a free initial telephone consultation about your family law case, please call McGuire Gardner, PLLC at (480) 559-8101 or toll free at (800) 899-2730 to speak with an experienced attorney. You may also contact us online and we will reply promptly.

Many of the issues raised in a divorce or paternity proceeding are resolved when the Court enters the Decree of Dissolution. However, certain orders are ongoing and the Court retains the ability to modify these orders as time progresses. Also, it is sometimes necessary to seek the Court's assistance to enforce a previously entered order.

Major changes can include an increase or decrease in the income of a parent, caused perhaps by the loss of a job, or the associated loss of medical insurance. The child may have needs that were unforeseen and unplanned for by the Court or the parties. In some circumstances, one parent wants to move out of state with the child. If a change in circumstances is such that it impacts the orders previously entered by the Court, a modification of those orders from the Court is necessary.

Attorneys at McGuire Gardner, PLLC can help you with modification and enforcement of orders.

Changes in income, whether up or down, may mean that the child support order needs to be modified. Child support modification is not retroactive so if you believe that a modification is warranted you should contact us as soon as possible. Do not rely on agreements that are not recognized by the Court as they are generally unenforceable.

Child support enforcement: We can help you enforce a child support order. If you are a non-custodial parent and you are behind on your payments, you should contact us to see what can be done about past due amounts.

Sometimes the custodial parent can no longer care for the child. In that instance, we can help you obtain a modification of the custody orders. Both parents may agree to change custody in certain cases, such as when they agree the child should attend a particular school where one parent lives. It is important to obtain approval from the Court when modifications of custody are agreed to. If a parent leaves the state or the country with a child in violation of the Court's orders, talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

If alimony or maintenance payments are no longer needed, or if it is needed for longer than originally provided for by the Court, or if other issues affect the needs of one spouse, or the other's ability to pay the Court can modify an award of spousal maintenance.

If a party does not comply with the Court's orders related to the division of debt or property, we can help you petition the Court to enforce the prior orders.

Call McGuire Gardner for a free initial telephone consultation to discuss modification or enforcement of your current court orders.