For years most courts have favored mother’s rights above the fathers when it comes to child custody. It would not be unusual for the court to automatically default the child’s custody to the mother with very little discussion. In Arizona a law put into place in January of 2013 has changed that mentality. Arizona law changed to state that, unless there is evidence of domestic violence or substance abuse, it is in the child’s best interest to have “substantial, frequent, meaningful and continuing parenting time with both parents.” This is great news for dads who want to be involved with raising their children.

Because of these changes, parents are no longer awarded “sole custody” or “joint custody.” It’s now a discussion of who makes the legal decisions and how much parenting time each parent will receive. One of the biggest changes to the law is that where, in the past, the court considered which parent historically provided primary care of the child, judges are now instructed to look at “the past, present, and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.” This will make for some difficult discussions in family court. Of course any proof of domestic violence will cause a parent to lose their parent time or legal decision making. This fact doesn’t change.

If you currently have a custody agreement, this law was not made retroactive, so it would require going back to court to change any current custody agreements. To do that, you must prove a change in circumstances to justify a modification. Some courts may consider this law change a justification, however this will be on a judge by judge basis.

The most important thing to know is if you are looking to receive your fair rights, its best to hire an attorney who has experience fighting for fathers’ rights. At the Law Office of Ronald L. Kossack, we will take the time to talk with you about your family’s needs and goals so that we can help negotiate terms that will be fair and lasting. We will do all we can to work toward a positive result for you. To speak with a Tempe child custody lawyer contact us online or by calling 480-345-2652.