As many people here in Arizona know, child custody cases can become a major source of contention. This can be especially true if the question of paternity and parental rights is at the center of the issue. But while some cases can find resolution in a state’s lower courts, some are not as simple and require the help of higher courts that may offer better guidance in the case.

In many divorces, the single most contentious and emotional issue is who will raise the divorcing couple’s daughters and sons. This means that there is often acrimony in child custody cases, as soon to be divorced husbands and wives struggle to get the parenting arrangement they want. A spotlight has been shown on this struggle in a new film called “Romeo Missed A Payment,” which has interested viewers in states like Arizona.

Parents who get divorced face many special challenges. Coordinating activities and establishing a parenting schedule is a new experience for many, as things were simpler in some respects when everyone lived in the same household. The marriage is over, and while there may be lingering animosities and resentments, both parents need to find ways to cooperate and work together for the good of the children. A program being offered in Yuma County, Arizona, may prove helpful to some divorced parents.

Members of the Cherokee Nation Indian tribe have been concerned about the fate of tribal children, in some instances placed with non-members of the tribe. On one recent case, a Cherokee man thought that under the provisions of a federal law known as the Indian Child Welfare Act that he should have had a preference and protected right to have child custody of his daughter. Instead, she wound up being placed in the home of a non-Indian family and the courts upheld this.

A father is arguing that his daughter, soon to be 6 years old, was placed for adoption with the mother’s out of state relatives without his knowledge or consent. Even before the child was born, he filed papers to seek paternity. Now, he is continuing the battle to seek sole custody of the child. Many in Arizona have watched the long-term child custody battle unfold in neighboring Utah, where the child has lived with her mother’s relatives.

A couple’s two daughters are currently the subject of a battle between a mother, now in Mexico, and the father, living in Arizona with the children. The most recent development in the child custody dispute involves a federal appeals court ruling that the children, at least for now, should stay with the father in Arizona. The court rejected the mother’s argument that an international convention addressing the subject of child abduction gave her an unquestionable right to have the children returned to her in Mexico.

Child custody battles are tough and emotionally draining, even when parents are in the same town. Imagine then the emotions and frustrations arising in an ongoing child custody fight in which the father is in the U.S. and the mother has fled to Argentina, taking her two young daughters with her. The trip to Argentina occurred over three years ago, and the two girls are now seven and four. During that time, the father says he has only seen pictures of his children but has not been able to visit with them.

Child custody cases in Arizona and nationwide are emotional and can be drawn out. Often adding to the complexity and expense of a child custody battle is the role of a court-appointed advocate who is supposed to speak out for the independent interests of a child. Most people acknowledge that in the vast majority of cases, even those that are hotly contested, both parents sincerely have the child’s best interests at heart. However, the child’s advocate, known as a guardian ad litem (for purposes of the litigation) can speak for the child’s interests, with no duty to advocate for either parent.

A Phoenix, Arizona, grandmother, trying to gain child custody of her granddaughter, has been accused of attempting to frame her son on drug charges to gain an advantage in the custody battle. Police arrested the 58-year-old grandmother, accusing her of child abuse for allegedly sending the 9-year-old girl to school one day with a container of cocaine and instructing the granddaughter to falsely state that the drugs belonged to her father.

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