Child Custody

questions & answers

Question: When do the courts allow a child speak on their behalf? My boyfriend's daughter has expressed concerning verbal and mental abuse by her mother whom has primary custody. what can we do?

Answer: Issues related to legal decision-making (formerly known as “custody”) and parenting time (formerly known as “visitation”) are decided by courts in Arizona in accordance with “the best interests of the child.” Factors considered include (among many others): the past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child; the interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest; the child’s adjustment to home, school and community; the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse; and, “if the child is of suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child” as to legal decision-making and parenting time (A.R.S. 25-403). A court will modify an existing order related to legal decision-making and parenting time if it can be shown that altering the current arrangement would be in the child’s best interests. If the child is determined to be “of suitable age and maturity,” then the child’s preferences will be considered. In Arizona, a person ordinarily must wait for at least one year after the original order to file a motion for modification. If, however, a court determines, on the basis of sworn statements, that there is reason to believe that the child’s present environment may seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health, then the motion may be filed at any time. If a form of joint custody has been ordered, a modification may be requested at any time if there is evidence that domestic violence, spousal abuse or child abuse has occurred since the entry of the order (A.R.S. 25-411). If you reside in Maricopa County, the following page contains useful instructions and forms: https://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/SuperiorCourt/Self-ServiceCenter/Forms/FamilyCourt/fc_group_14.asp Similar pages containing instructions and forms for modifying legal decision-making and parenting time orders in other Arizona counties may be found through the following link: https://www.azcourts.gov/selfservicecenter/Self-Service-Forms

QUESTIONS

  • When do the courts allow a child speak on their behalf? My boyfriend's daughter has expressed concerning verbal and mental abuse by her mother whom has primary custody. what can we do?

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OTHER LEGAL RESOURCES

  • State Bar of Arizona
    www.azbar.org
  • Maricopa County Bar
    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
  • Pima County Bar
    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
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