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DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC Board certified Family Law Specialist* Gwen's Gladiators

Child custody: a floor installer from Apache Junction stands up

Every other weekend and a couple of weeks in the summer has historically been the sad lament of many Arizona fathers when it comes to child custody. But if one dad, a flooring installer from Apache Junction, has anything to say about it, the recent legislative changes in favor of shared parenting will continue to take hold.

While he hasn't had much success in changing his own custody arrangements, he has made progress on a statewide level as a member of the Domestic Relations Committee, which researches issues concerning family law and makes recommendations for new laws. His appointment to the committee came from a meeting with a state senator where he expressed his ongoing frustration with child custody laws and his continued inability to get more time with his own children.

The 41-year-old dad believes the real message about child custody should be equal time and equal custody. That's a far cry from the traditional approach of giving the father a few weekends, ordering that he pay child support and moving on to the next case. But Arizona, it turns out, is said to be in the forefront when it comes to shared parenting time.

One law that he championed passed in 2010. It states that, absent drug abuse or domestic violence, the best interests of the child are served by "substantial, frequent, meaningful and continuing parenting time with both parents." And a law this year moved one step closer to his goal of truly shared parenting. It requires courts to come up with a parenting plan that maximizes time with the kids for both parents. Under the new law, which takes effect in January 2013, courts are prohibited from using a parent's or child's gender to favor one party.

While the dad would likely say Arizona has a ways to go to achieve shared parenting, along the way he has become a role model for his 8-year-old and 10-year-old sons. However, he has not been able to see his 12-year-old son in four years due to the child custody ruling. Now recognized as a child custody advocate for shared parenting in our state, he urges that people stand up and support the new laws. And to fathers who have battled and lost, he has only this to say: "Quit allowing things to happen to you."

Source: azcentral.com, "Arizona dad fights for rights of divorced fathers," Alia Beard Rau, June 16, 2012

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