Divorce is a major life event that results in a myriad of changes. A former spouse might get a new job, meet someone new, or simply want to leave Arizona to start a new life. When minor children are involved, moving out-of-state will drastically affect the current child custody arrangement. Some parents maintain an amicable relationship and work out the details when one wants to relocate. In other cases, parents need to look to the courts to come to a new custody arrangement. Below we provide more information about the factors that can impact your ability to relocate with your kids after divorce.

Relocating with Children After Divorce

If you want to relocate your kids from Phoenix to Scottsdale or from Gilbert to Mesa, you will not need to update your child custody arrangement. Arizona law considers relocation as a move that is at least 100 miles away or out-of-state. The parent who wishes to move has the legal duty to notify the other parent of their intentions via certified mail 45 days in advance of their move. The other parent then has the time to petition the court to prevent the move from occurring. Ultimately, the court will decide whether you can relocate with your kids.

If your former spouse petitions the court to stop you from moving, you will have to attend a hearing. Both of you will have an opportunity to present your case by providing testimony from family, friends, and others. Once the court has all the facts, the judge can make an informed decision about relocation.

Factors that Impact a Court’s Decision Concerning Relocation

Arizona courts do not make child custody decisions lightly, especially those involving moving with children. A judge will examine multiple factors, placing the best interest of the child as the top priority. They include:

Motivation

Courts favor some motivations for relocation more than others. A parent who wants to move to get a new job, especially one that offers more pay and more opportunities often has a better chance of relocating than a parent who simply wants to move to get a fresh start.

Child’s Quality of Life

The court will examine if relocation will lead to an improved quality of life for the child. What does improved mean? It varies from case to case, but some examples include:

  • Access to better schools
  • Access to more family
  • Access to better childcare
  • Ability to live in a more financially secure household

Parental Relationships

Judges closely evaluate a child’s relationship with each parent. Parents who don’t spend time with their children after divorce, regularly miss or give up their visitation time, or have unhealthy abusive relationships with their children will have a challenging time preventing relocation and likely cannot move with their child if they have full physical custody.

Sibling Relationships

Moving kids away from one or more siblings or half-siblings can be a traumatic life event. Judges carefully weigh relationships kids have with their siblings before modifying a custody arrangement that allows a parent to relocate with their kids. Additionally, the judge will look at how well the siblings who might be moving together get along. Will relocating place an older child in a caretaker role, perhaps impacting the one child in a negative way?

Impact of Less Visitation

One of the consequences of relocating with kids is that the other parent will have less visitation. If the relationship is strained, this may not impact the court’s decision. Yet, kids who spend regular or equal time with the other parent have some type of bond, potentially a strong one. The judge will carefully evaluate the potential emotional consequences a child can suffer as a result of not getting as much time with the non-moving parent.

Child’s Adjustment Period

Moving to a new home and a new community comes with an adjustment period for everyone involved. The adjustment period that a child goes through factors into a judge’s decision about relocation. Many children easily adapt to new situations, but not all do. The judge will consider how well and how quickly your child(ren) will adapt to their new life.

Child Preference

Once a child reaches a certain mix of age and maturity, their preference holds weight with the court. Children, even older ones, don’t always make choices in their best interest, so your child’s preference does not mean the judge will approve or deny relocation. Yet, the judge will carefully listen to your child’s preference and their reasons why and consider it with other factors, especially his or her best interest.

Other Factors

Listed above are the most common factors Arizona courts review when making decisions about relocation. Yet, these are not always the only factors. Each child custody case involving relocation is different. Relationships and underlying facts are different. The court might wish to examine other things that apply to a specific case. For example, a parent who wishes to relocate who has a criminal history or a history plagued with drug and/or alcohol use might find it difficult to move with kids. A history of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and instability can also prevent a judge from modifying a custody arrangement.

Once the court has examined all factors related to you relocating with your kids, he or she will make a ruling about whether you can move or not. If the judge decides you can relocate with your kids, your child support order will be adjusted accordingly.

Relocating with Kids? Contact Us Today to Learn About Your Rights

Co-parenting and dealing child custody matters after a divorce can be overwhelming and stressful for parents and children alike. If you are seeking to relocate out-of-state with your kids, or your former spouse wishes to relocate with your child, contact us today online or at 602-252-1968 to learn more about your rights and the process of modifying a child custody order. The experienced family law attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC can help.

On March 31, a stay at home order was issued by Governor Doug Ducey with the intention of slowing the spread of the COVID19 virus. This order went into effect immediately and since schools were closed, many people were suddenly juggling working at home, full-time parenting, and distance learning for their children. Unfortunately, it also caused problems for parents across Arizona who are sharing custody and visitation with children.

Child Visitation Court Orders Must Be Followed

For most divorced couples, there are court ordered visitations and custody. While the courts are no in “physical” session, these court ordered visitations and all issues pertaining to custody matters are in full force and effect.

The Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) issued a statement that all visitations for children in their custody would be conducted via teleconferences through at least April 30. However, this does not apply to families where parents are sharing custody, or where there are certain visitation schedules in place through the courts.

Communication is Crucial Between Parents

During this challenging time, communicating with your former spouse may be the best option available to you. Some of the challenges you should be addressing include:

  • Risk factors — if one of you is still employed as an essential employee, what are the risks of being exposed to COVID19? If this is the case, it may be a good time to consider remote visitations until you are safe from contracting the virus. While children are at a lower risk, this does not mean they are not facing risks.
  • Financial realities — make sure you have a discussion as parents about any financial limitations you have which could impact your ability to provide a safe haven for your children including purchasing food and any medicine they may need.
  • Outside activities — have an open discussion about activities which your child may be involved in during their visitation with their parent. Make sure if they are going to playgrounds they are remaining physically distanced from others on the playground and that proper hygiene after being in these areas is being followed.

Courts Have Issued Some Guidance to Parents

Thankfully, parents do not have to go this alone. In addition to some common sense measures, the courts have issued some guidance which you should review if you are in this position. Remember, the courts remain available to offer intervention should something be out of the ordinary.

School Break Visitation Schedules

One thing that is important to remember is the fact that while the schools are closed down for this pandemic, this is not considered a “standard” school break and therefore, the typical plans for visitation should apply. However, when the breaks are part of the school calendar, those visitation schedules should be adhered to by the parents.

No Rights to Withhold Visitation

It is important to keep in mind, neither parent has the right to cease allowing visitation. However, the courts have also indicated that should a parent have a COVID19 diagnosis, be informed they were exposed to the virus, or were in an area where there was an outbreak then plans should be altered accordingly for a period of at least 14 days.

Should a parent be unable to visit because of exposure, the other parent should take steps to ensure the child has regular contact with the other parent during this difficult and challenging time. Thankfully, technology offers many options including Facetime, Zoom, and other similar platforms where the child can both talk to and see their other parent.

Supervised Visits, Pickups and Drop Offs

One challenge a parent may be facing is those cases where they have been ordered to drop off or pick up a child in a supervised setting. Because these drop off and pick up times often occur at local coffee shops or restaurants, and they are current closed parents may be wondering what options are open to them. In these cases, parents may wish to reach out to a local police or fire station to arrange the time for such supervision.

Supervised visits are far more challenging since they often require a third party to be available during the visit. According to the guidance issued to the courts, these visits may occur with the parent who has primary custody, with them acting as the “supervisor” or the assigned supervisor may be able to attend. If this is not a feasible option, then the parenting time could take place via electronic means.

Keeping Children Engaged with Parents

As you can see from the guidelines issued by the courts, the big takeaway is making sure children keep engaged with both parents during this difficult time. In the event there is a need to not see parents face-to-face, then communication should be arranged electronically, and parents should discuss options for make up time once this crisis abates.

When Parents Cannot Agree

This is an exceedingly difficult time for everyone. There is additional stress placed on both parents who may be navigating unemployment or work at home routines for the first time. Children will not be returning to school which means their schedules are disrupted and many may not understand why they cannot see their friends or go to the local playground. The added stress all of us are under often leads to disagreements which may seem impossible to overcome, particularly when it comes to visitation and parenting time.

If you are concerned about your child’s safety, if you and your former spouse cannot agree on a reasonable alternative when there are health concerns, or if your former spouse is withholding visitation, there is help available. While the courts are no officially open for business, they are still conducting business and they are available to hear cases pertaining to visitation and shared custody matters.

If you are facing challenges with parenting time, joint custody matters, or visitation schedules and you find it impossible to reach a satisfactory arrangement with your former spouse, contact DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC at 602-252-1968 or 480-524-1540 and let us help you get this matter resolved satisfactorily. Stay safe and well.

A marriage never starts with the couple thinking they will eventually get a divorce. But between forty and fifty percent of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Many times, divorce is no one individual’s fault. Sometimes, the marriage just ends.

Regardless of the reason for divorce, it is expensive. Many estimates put the cost of divorce starting in the $10,000 to $20,000 range. And it only goes up from there. The more assets you have, the more expensive your divorce becomes.

Working with a trusted and compassionate Arizona divorce lawyer can provide you the guidance and support you need during this emotional period of your life. The right lawyer can also help you save on costs and make sure you don’t spend more the necessary.

Common Reasons for Divorce

To file for divorce in Arizona, you must have been a resident for at least ninety days. Arizona is also a no-fault divorce state so you do not have to provide a specific reason for your divorce. On your divorce petition, all you must allege is that your divorce is irretrievably broken.

But there are some common reasons a married couple moves forward with divorce. These include:

  • Infidelity
  • Abuse
  • Unrealistic expectations of marriage
  • Lack of preparation
  • Lack of equality in the marriage

Your situation is unique to you. While you may experience one or more of these situations in your marriage, the question of whether divorce is right for your marriage is up to you. You might think what went wrong in your marriage but it’s important to not focus on that but instead what you do next. Deciding on divorce is a difficult decision and one that you should not take lightly but when you have decided, it’s important to work with a seasoned divorce lawyer in Arizona to help you navigate the complex legal process ahead.

Most divorces are not simple, especially divorces involving high net worth couples. Issues needing resolution often include:

  • Parenting time
  • Decision-making authority for children
  • Child support
  • Alimony
  • Division of property
  • Division of assets

You also need to consider time. Once you file for divorce, there are filing deadlines which must be met, including financial disclosures. These documents are complex and require a deep dive into your financial life. The court requires this information to make sure each person is receiving an equitable distribution of marital assets. During this discovery process, we can also determine if your spouse is hiding assets in an effort to reduce what they may have to contribute to the divorce. It’s shady but we have seen it happen many times.

Why High Net Worth Divorces Cost More

As a high net worth individual, you have more property and other assets which require division between you and your spouse. Sometimes, courts must get involved to split your assets, further increasing the cost.

When contemplating divorce as a high net worth individual, speaking with an experienced divorce attorney in Arizona can give you the confidence you need that your divorce will be handled correctly. One of the most important things you need to understand is your finances. If you know what you have as a couple, you know what a fair distribution might look like. Your lawyer will help you with this step.

High net worth divorces may also be more expensive because they are more likely to be contested. When this happens, courts are often involved and that greatly increases attorney fees. This does not mean you should avoid hiring a lawyer. That can be the worst decision you make.

To ensure you receive a fair distribution of your marital assets, evaluating your full net worth is important but takes time. In addition, some assets may not be marital property. When you got married, most of your assets became marital property and anything you acquired during your marriage might also be marital property. But there are some exceptions which your lawyer can help you determine.

Many high net worth divorces also involve international assets. This creates extreme complexities with your divorce, including possible tax ramifications. This requires the keen eye of an experienced Arizona divorce lawyer with a thorough understanding of high net worth divorces and your specific situation.

In high net worth divorces, alimony payments may also be extremely high. Alimony is used to keep the spouse who may not have been the high earner in the marriage in the same or similar living situation they were in during the marriage. But sometimes, a spouse will conceal property, bank accounts, and other assets to reduce their overall net worth. This results in a reduction of the potential alimony they need to pay.

Don’t Rush

Divorce is expensive. You need to make sure divorce is the right decision for your specific situation. Once you determine it is, then you need to make sure you take it seriously.

We often hear clients say they just want to get divorce over with and move on with their lives. We understand this is a complex and emotionally draining process. But if you don’t do it right this time, you may have to go down this road in the future to make sure you have a fair and equitable distribution of your assets.

Rushing divorce can result in making grave financial mistakes. You cannot correct some of these mistakes after we finalize your divorce. We know it’s painful but let us help you protect your rights.

Speak with a Divorce Lawyer

Many people choose to live together before marriage. That can help reduce the likelihood that the couple’s marriage will end in divorce. But it’s not a guarantee. So don’t ignore how you feel and seek out help right away.

When you have made the decision that divorce is the right choice for you, seek out a skilled Arizona divorce lawyer. The right lawyer can help you protect your rights during divorce proceedings to ensure you do not regret rushing through the process.

Contact us online or at 602-252-1968 today. Dedicated. Loyal. Trustworthy. Reliable.

Child custody is the term legal professionals use to define the relationship between a child and his or her parents or legal guardians. It’s almost used exclusively within the context of divorce and separation to describe how both parents should physically care for and visit with their child or children.

There are a few custody arrangement types. Therefore it is helpful for parents dealing with custody issues to understand the options that may be available to them. Each type carries different implications, so getting it right is critical to the success of the relationship you share with your child and your ex.

However, speaking with a child custody attorney in Phoenix is best if you have specific questions. You can contact DeShon Laraye & Pullen PLC for an initial custody arrangement evaluation. Schedule yours today by calling (602) 461-7818 or submitting a message via our online contact form.

No matter what your family’s structure is, deciding upon a child custody arrangement that acts in the best interest of your child is a critical first step toward living life under the new norm.

Here are the four types of child custody arrangements in Arizona that may help you and your family:

1. Legal Custody

Legal custody is the doctrine that serves as the basis of parental rights and responsibilities. It is the purest form of child custody from a legal standpoint since they are rights afforded to all parents regardless of arrangement type.

Legal custody gives you the authority to participate and make decisions based on education matters, medical care, and religious issues. In short, every parent has legal custody, whether or not they have sole or joint custody.

2. Physical Custody

Physical custody is a designation reserved for parents who provide care and support to the child daily. Also known as residential custody, it is a form of custody that describes with whom the child will live.

A physical custody arrangement can be awarded solely or jointly. We examine these two sub-arrangements in closer detail below.

3. Sole Custody

Sole custody is when the courts assign the responsibility and care over a child to a single parent. The parent with sole custody is sometimes referred to as the custodial parent, while the parent who has visitation rights is known as the non-custodial parent.

The sole custody arrangement is most common since it affords the non-custodial parent an opportunity to still visit with his or her children without interrupting the consistency of schooling and home life that children need to thrive.

4. Joint Custody

Sometimes called shared custody or shared parenting, joint custody is when the child’s full-time living arrangements are divided between parents using a method of percentage.

For instance, a court may award a joint custody agreement using a 50-50 split. However, the actual rate used varies according the what is in the best interests of the child.

Joint custody arrangements are more challenging in terms of a court ruling. There is a ton of consideration on behalf of the family court judge assigned to your case.

It’s possible that receiving joint custody might not even be on the table if he or she feels that it is not conducive to your child’s well-being.

Ultimately, your options for joint custody include working with your ex, making a request to the court, and hiring a child custody lawyer in Phoenix to help you make the best possible case. Elements that a judge may ponder may include your child’s cognitive abilities, parental work schedules, child support needs, education needs, and economic capacity of both parents to manage this arrangement successfully.

An agreement that values joint custody arrangements is applauded for their child-centric approach. However, opponents of them say that the child does not have adequate access to consistency, which does not work for every child or family type.

How a Phoenix Child Custody Lawyer Can Help

Providing for and protecting your children is a top priority as it should be. If you are concerned about child custody issues as a married or unmarried person, you have options.

Moreover, you have rights that deserve protection, as well. When you hire a licensed Arizona family law attorney, you are retaining peace-of-mind in knowing that you are affording you and your family the best possible chance of moving forward in life.

Discuss Your Options at an Initial Case Review with DeShon Laraye & Pullen PLC

At DeShon Laraye & Pullen PLC, we know how to navigate the complexities that surround child custody issues skillfully. You don’t have to face the court or your ex alone in court. Contact one of our child custody lawyers in Phoenix for an initial case review. You can schedule a meeting with our team by calling (602) 461-7818 or sending us a message via our online request form.

Co-parenting requires good communication and preparation, particularly if the parents don’t live together. Custody agreements between two parents spell out important information regarding the time that each parent is entitled to have with the child. However, many parents forget to consult this agreement—or the other parent—when making vacation plans. Below we discuss how to include your child in your vacation plans without violating your custody agreement.

The Importance of Abiding by the Terms of Your Custody Agreement

According to Arizona law, if you violate any of the terms of your custody order, including conditions regarding parenting time or visitation, the court may legally do the following:

  • Find you in contempt of court
  • Order visitation or parenting time for the other parent to make up for the time missed due to your violation
  • Order you to complete parenting education courses at your own expense
  • Order family counseling at your own expense
  • Order civil penalties of up to $100 for each violation
  • Order both parents to attend mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution at your expense
  • Make any other order that’s in accordance with the best interest of the child legal standard
  • Hold a hearing to review the noncompliance with the visitation or parenting time order
  • Require the violating parent to cover any court fees incurred by the non-violating parent associated with the review of noncompliance order

Does the Vacation Fall Within Your Scheduled Parenting Time?

Vacation time is an important component of your custody agreement, and courts generally favor agreements that provide children with the opportunity to spend quality time with each parent away from the day-to-day routines of work and school. Because of this, your custody agreement likely has provisions within it as to how much vacation time you’re entitled to have with your child during the summer. Your agreement may clearly state the exact dates as to when each party may take vacation time, or it may require you to coordinate and schedule that time with the other parent well in advance of any vacation.

Although courts often hold the view that vacation time takes precedence over regular parenting time, whenever possible, you should try to plan your vacation within your scheduled parenting time. In general, unless your agreement includes a specific time period for notice, you should let the other parent know thirty days in advance of the dates of your planned vacation. If your vacation plans infringe on the other parent’s parenting time, always be sure to discuss options for making up the regularly scheduled parenting time that the other parent will miss out on due to your vacation.

Traveling out of State? Inform the Other Parent First

Many custody agreements spell out whether one parent must notify the other parent of out-of-state travel plans. However, even if your agreement doesn’t specifically discuss out-of-state travel notice, it is a good idea to discuss any planned out-of-state travel with your child’s other parent well in advance of any planned vacation. During this discussion, you should agree to some specific terms of the out-of-state vacation; it’s generally a good idea to get such agreements in writing, with each parent having a copy of what he or she is agreeing to when it comes to traveling out of state for vacations.

When planning a vacation with your child, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Don’t plan an out-of-state vacation that will result in your child missing an important day for the co-parent, such as the co-parent’s or another close family member’s birthday.
  • While planning the vacation, you should set aside times for your child to contact the other parent while out of town, as this helps your child and the other parent feel connected to one another, even while you’re away on an out-of-state vacation.

Always Share the Details of Your Vacation With the Other Parent

As discussed above, court-ordered parenting plans often include a requirement that one parent notifies the other parent of any travel plans. However, even if your agreement doesn’t include this provision, it’s a good idea to provide notice anyway. While no divorced parent wants to be micromanaged by his or her former spouse, one very important reason why your co-parent should be informed of where you’re going and how to reach you is in case an emergency occurs at home, and the other parent needs to contact you or your child; he or she must have the ability to reach you. Likewise, if you or your child has an emergency that requires you to contact the other parent, he or she should at least have an idea beforehand as to where you are. This is especially important when you and the other parent share legal responsibility for the child and for decision-making regarding your child’s medical care.

The following information is helpful for the other parent, and will be helpful for you as well when the other parent takes a vacation with the child:

  • Where are you going and what activities will you be doing?
  • When will you return?
  • How are you getting there? If you’re planning to fly or take a train, provide information about the airline or train carrier, the flight or train number, and the travel schedule.
  • Where are you staying? Include an address or a phone number.
  • Who are you traveling with? Include a contact number for another adult who will know where you are and be in contact with you.

Should You Modify Your Custody Agreement?

Custody agreements should reflect the best interests of your child at the time of issuance. However, as time passes, you and the other parent may find that the agreement should change to reflect your child’s growth in both maturity and development. Vacation time is often one aspect of an agreement that you may want to modify as your child becomes older. While it may not be advisable for you to take an infant out of town for two weeks, taking a 15-year-old out of state to enjoy a summer vacation with you is a different matter.

If you feel a need to modify your custody order, an experienced family law attorney can guide you through that process. Make sure you consult with one before taking any actions that could jeopardize your custody rights.

What does it mean to have custody of a child as opposed to serving as guardian for that child when he or she becomes an adult? On the face of it, this might seem like a relatively simple question to answer.

In Minnesota, these two legal terms represent what amount to competing fronts. And, just as colliding hot and cold fronts make for severe weather, these competing legal fronts create rough seas for families of divorce because of certain generalities in the law.

When a grandparent takes over custody of their children’s children, the circumstances surrounding the change are usually dire. Oftentimes, the loss of their own children who were parents while they were alive forces grandparents to step up. On other occasions, an unsafe household require that grandchildren be put into a more secure and nurturing environment.

Grandparents raising their grandchildren are becoming a growing segment of the population, regardless of the reasons surrounding the change.Eleven percent of grandparents assume custody due to the death of one or both parents of their grandchildren.Forty percent of children came from households where at least one parent was suffering from substance abuse
Twenty-eight percent of children left their parents’ homes over neglect, abuse or abandonment

Updating Arizona’s laws to reflect same-sex couples’ rights to marry has been slow in coming. The language reflects a different time with references to husbands, fathers, and even gestation periods.

A recent ruling by the state’s Supreme Court gave the effort a much-needed boost.

After their 2008 marriage in California, Kimberly and Suzan McLaughlin made Arizona their home. As they began their new life, they decided to have a child through an anonymous sperm donor. Kimberly carried the child and the couple had a son in 2011. Suzan stayed at home with the baby while Kimberly resumed her career as a physician.

While children have a voice in their parents’ divorce, their “best interests” revolve around custody and visitation matters. They benefit from child support. However, strict, statutory calculations dictate the specific amount of money set aside to provide for their basic needs.

Historically, money for child support goes to the custodial parent to pay for necessities, not the children. However, a recent landmark court ruling blazed a new trail where finances necessary for post-secondary education went directly to the son of divorced parents.

While Ward Cleaver, Mike Brady and other television fathers served as role models, their specific roles involved taking a smaller role in the lives of their children. They were sole providers, choosing to work while their wives served as caregivers.

The traditional roles of fathers, particularly those that are divorced, have evolved. More and more are taking a hands-on approach to raising their children. Yet, court-ordered child custody agreements have not kept pace.

Statistics reveal that 80 percent of cases award full physical custody of children to mothers. Not accounting for orders protecting children from abusive and neglectful fathers, the decisions are very close to being one-sided

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