What Does It Take to Win Custody in Arizona?
First it should be pointed out that in Arizona, we no longer use the word “custody. For many years parties had been using the word custody without really knowing or understanding its meaning. Some years ago, Arizona converted to “legal decision-making” and “parenting time.” Legal decision-making is essentially what used to be known as “custody.”
Fighting for the custody/Legal decision-making of a child is one of the most stressful experiences that you can go through. Even if the relationship with the other parent is not troublesome, a custody battle can easily become a grand nightmare. This is only made more true in situations where the other parent is abusive or neglectful of the child.
In Arizona, the legal system does not favor mothers or fathers. Instead, our legal system aims to do what is in the best interest of the child. The child’s well-being is more important than anything else. In order to win custody kna Legal decision-making, you need to convince the judge that the best course of action for the child is to grant you custody/Legal decision-making.
The judge is given a lot of leeway in deciding the outcome of a child custody case. This means that you need to first and foremost convince the judge. This is done by gathering evidence and essential information with your family law attorney to build a compelling case.
While there is no surefire way to guarantee that you will win custody, you can improve your chances significantly by keeping the following five tips in mind throughout the experience. Follow these tips and work closely with your family law attorney throughout each step of the case.
Tip 1: Keep Up with Parental Responsibilities
As a parent, you are responsible for a lot of things when it comes to the care of your child. Changing diapers, supervising baths, helping with homework, and taking them to after-school events are all things expected of a parent. A comprehensive list of parental responsibilities would be much longer than we have time for.
The important takeaway here is that maintaining and keeping up with your parental responsibilities is vital. The court doesn’t want to give custody/Legal decision-making over to a parent that shows no interest in the child’s well-being, whether that is medical, social, or emotional.
It can be easy to let parental responsibilities slip a little when going through a divorce, but you have to fight against this natural impulse. It is no excuse to allow your parental responsibilities to slip just because you are going through a tough time; life is full of tough times, but a parent must still live up to their responsibilities regardless.
Tip 2: Don’t Throw a Fit; Behave Appropriately
If you act like a child yourself, you are not going to be looked upon kindly by the judge. Throwing a tantrum, refusing to cooperate with the legal process, and seeking to get the judge to punish your ex for spite, all of these are negative behaviors that will have an impact on the outcome of the custody/Legal decision-making case.
You may be frustrated and angry. You may feel like your ex is pushing all of your buttons to try to rile you up. Regardless of how annoying it is and how angry it makes you, simply let it go. Act like a mature, respectable adult. If you don’t stoop to their level, the judge will take notice of this. Likewise, if your ex is acting in a childish manner, then they are only making the outcome worse for themselves.
Tip 3: Create Space in Your Home
Before custody/Legal decision-making is awarded, the court is going to want to see that there is space in your home for the child. If you live in a bachelor pad with barely enough space for yourself, you won’t be getting custody. You need to show that there is a ready space for the child.
Create a space for the child in your home and then request an in-home evaluation. The court will send an approved evaluator to check out your home and determine if it is an appropriate environment for raising a child.
Not only does this show that the space is ready for the child, but it can also help to defend against ridiculous accusations that your ex may make about your home.
Tip 4: Cooperate with Your Ex
In Arizona, The first factor in determining legal decision-making Is whether the parents communicate well enough to allow joint legal decision-making. We already spoke about the importance of being mature and not getting worked up by your ex, but now we’re going to suggest going a step further. If you can, working with and cooperating with your ex is usually a great idea.
In many custody cases, both parents want what is best for the child. When each parent approaches the issue from this angle, it makes it easier to work with each other. Cooperation often requires a give and take, depends but also compromises.
The courts look kindly upon cooperation between parents, as it reduces the court’s need to step in and impose a judgment upon the two parties.
Tip 5: Create a Parenting Plan
Creating a parenting plan is beneficial in a number of ways. For one, a parenting plan makes it easier to parent. This is because a parenting plan is filled with questions and answers. Questions about what to do if certain situations arise, how the child’s basic needs are to be met, and the like are all great to have. It can help to keep you on track if you are unsure of what you should do about something, and you can provide a copy of the plan to babysitters or other necessary parties.
As far as custody/Legal decision-making goes, creating a parenting plan shows the level of thoughtfulness you are putting into being a parent. It shows you are thinking about what is best for the child and actively seeking ways to meet the child’s needs.
Bonus Tip: Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney
You could try to represent yourself in a custody/Legal decision-making battle, but this is not recommended. Winning a custody/Legal decision-making battle isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work to prove to the court that granting you custody/Legal decision-making is in the child’s best interest.
So don’t go at it alone. Hire an experienced family law attorney. They will be able to help you to gather evidence, build a compelling case, and argue with conviction that your child’s welfare is best supported by granting custody to you.