Child Abuse & Neglect

questions & answers

Question: My 4 year old daughters Father and I have joint custody but since she was 1 year and 6 months he only asks for her every 6-8 months. Is this a form of child neglect? Would asking to sign over his rights as a parent be the next step?

Answer: Custody is now referred to by the courts as "legal decision-making."  You say that your ex sees your daughter only once every 6-8 months.  You have the right to go back to court and ask for sole custody (sole legal decision-making rights).  His infrequent visits may provide a basis to argue that sole custody is in her best interests.  (A.R.S. section 25-403)  Of course, he has the right to respond and make his own arguments objecting to a change in the custody order.  Asking him to relinquish parental rights is a whole different issue and more complex. If he agrees, are you willing to waive any claim to child support?  Even if you both agree that it is in the best interests of your daughter for him to relinquish his parental rights, you must still go to court.  You may want to discuss your case with a lawyer to decide your best course of action.  There are 3 programs in Arizona that you can use to get some inexpensive legal advice and guidance.  One is the Modest Means Program.  If you are financially qualified for the program, for a $75 fee, Modest Means offers a one hour consult with an attorney.  If you need additional help and the attorney agrees to take your case, the fee charged will not exceed $75 per hour.  The telephone number is (866)637-5341.  Both the Maricopa and Pima County Bar Associations have lawyer referral programs that offer a 30 minute consult with an experienced attorney.  Maricopa County's Lawyer Referral Service offers a 30 minute consult for a fee of $40.  The telephone number is (602) 257-4434.  Pima County's Lawyer Referral Service offers a 30 minute consultation for a fee of $35.  The telephone number is (520) 623-4625.  If you want to move forward on your own, you can find the forms and instructions you need on the court's website in the family law section of the self-service center. 

QUESTIONS

  • My 4 year old daughters Father and I have joint custody but since she was 1 year and 6 months he only asks for her every 6-8 months. Is this a form of child neglect? Would asking to sign over his rights as a parent be the next step?

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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
  • Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center
    866-553-0893
  • Certified Legal Document Preparer Program
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