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10 Things You Should Know Before a Child Custody Battle

Posted On June 22, 2024 In Child Custody

Arizona judges prioritize the best interests of children in all family court rulings and begin child custody battles in Arizona with the presumption that continued close contact with both parents is what is in a child’s best interest. If you are facing a child custody battle as part of a divorce or as an unmarried parent, consulting a Chandler family law attorney can provide you with the expertise and guidance you need. There are ten important things to know before you go to court.

1. The Court Will Give You Ample Opportunity to Avoid a Custody Battle

Arizona judges prefer for parents to resolve their custody disputes outside of court. No judge knows your children, your schedule, and your goals for your family as well as you and your children’s other parent. Courts make all decisions in the best interests of children, but you know your child’s best interests best. Unless your children’s other parent presents a danger to their physical or emotional health, it’s always best to resolve child custody outside of court with a settlement agreement that includes a fair, mutually agreed-upon parenting time schedule that works for your unique family situation.

A judge may order divorcing spouses and unmarried co-parents to attend mediation at any time if they think you and your co-parent can resolve a custody dispute without the court’s intervention.

2. The Presumption That Continued Close Contact With the Other Parent is Rebuttable

All child custody battles begin with the court’s presumption that it’s in the child’s best interest to spend time with both parents. As a parent, you can rebut this presumption in your case by providing evidence and testimony showing that it is not in your child’s best interest. This applies in cases of domestic abuse, the other parent’s neglect or abusive behavior toward the children, criminality, or chronic addiction.

3. You Should Not Become Involved in a Relationship Until After the Custody Decision

Beginning a new serious relationship during a custody battle can quickly complicate matters. Any adult who spends time with your children will be vetted by the court. Anything in their past could impact your custody case if the judge finds that spending time with this other person is not in the children’s best interest.

4. Your Willingness to Facilitate a Relationship Between Your Children and Their Other Parent is Important to the Court

Few parents in child custody battles realize that one of the key qualities that a judge looks for when deciding on child custody is which parent is more willing to encourage a continued close relationship between their children and the other parent. A judge is more likely to award primary custody to a parent who willingly encourages their child to spend time with the other parent rather than to a parent who prevents or interferes with the other parent’s time with their child.

5. Do Not Send Angry Texts or Messages to the Other Parent

Any behavior that could be construed as threatening or erratic can be used by the other parent to show a judge that frequent contact with you is not in your children’s best interest. Do not leave angry voicemails or send rage texts that you’ll later regret when they’re entered as evidence against you.

6. Arizona Courts Do Not Favor One Sex Over the Other For Parenting

Far in the past, mothers had no legal right to custody of their children during a separation or divorce. Then, for decades, most courts automatically awarded primary custody to mothers and relegated fathers to every other weekend visitation. Today, however, courts uphold the “best interests of children” standard and do not make decisions in favor of one sex over the other.

7. Have a Parenting Plan Created Before Going to Court

It’s best to be prepared in court with a strategy for your desired custody outcome. Unless you are seeking sole custody because your child’s other parent is a danger to their physical or emotional well-being, it’s best to choose the parenting plan for shared custody that works well for your schedule and present it to the court. Your attorney can help you show the court why your chosen parenting plan is in your child’s best interest.

8. Be Organized and Prepared

During the process of divorce and/or child custody, stay organized with a file for your evidence and documents. Take the time to talk to your attorney before every step of the child custody process so you’re well-prepared and as relaxed and confident as possible. This presents you in the best possible light to the judge.

9. Never Lie or Make False Accusations

It may be tempting to make claims of abuse or neglect against the other parent as a means of gaining full custody but never make false accusations against a co-parent to secure custody. This tactic can backfire terribly when the other side disproves your claims. The judge could hold you in contempt of court and award primary custody to the other parent.

10. Stay Composed and Calm During the Hearing

As well-prepared for the hearing as you might be after discussing it with your Chandler child custody attorney, you might still be stunned by surprise attacks from the other parent during the hearing. It’s essential that you remain calm and composed no matter what is thrown at you in court. Remember that your demeanor is under close scrutiny and react accordingly with calm and control.

Few circumstances cause greater anxiety for a parent than a custody battle over their children. It’s difficult to fathom living in a separate household from your children for part of the week and having a judge mandate when you can and cannot have them with you. By being as prepared as possible for your custody hearing, you maximize your chances of achieving your desired outcome.