How to Get Sole Custody in Arizona

Young red-haired woman took custody of daughter.

Are you going through a divorce or separating from your child’s other parent in Arizona? Do you want to be the parent with sole power to make decisions about your child’s health, education and welfare? Do you want your child to live with you, too? If you answered yes to those three questions, then you want sole custody of your child.

An experienced child custody lawyer from Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC can guide you through the process. Generally, you can secure sole custody in one of two ways – through agreement with the other parent or through a court order. Our goal will be to achieve the custody arrangement that you want and the plan which meets the best interest of your child.

Read on to learn more about how to get sole custody in Arizona. To discuss the specific facts of your case, contact us today. You will receive a consultation with a knowledgeable and compassionate Arizona child custody attorney.

What Is Sole Custody?

Father bidding goodbye to her daughter.Father bidding goodbye to her daughter.

Custody of a child takes two forms: Legal and physical. In Arizona, the term “custody” refers to legal custody. “Physical custody” refers to with whom the child lives. It also refers to “parenting time,” or visitation rights.

If you have sole custody of a child, then you are the only parent with authority to make decisions about the child’s health care, education and general welfare (such as the child’s religious upbringing). You may have an informal agreement to discuss these decisions with the other parent. However, you – alone – have the legal power to make those choices.

In most cases, the parent with sole custody also has physical custody of the child. The other parent, or “non-custodial” parent,” receives parenting time with the child. The non-custodial parent typically pays some level of child support.

Parents can reach all different types of arrangements. They could agree to joint custody in which they share authority to make decisions about the child’s welfare. They could also agree to a physical custody arrangement in which the child spends equal time with each parent.

How Can a Parent Get Sole Custody?

You and the child’s other parent can agree on a parenting plan for your child after your divorce or separation. The plan can establish:

  • Sole custody or joint custody
  • If joint custody, a process for making decisions
  • Physical custody and parenting time
  • Vacation and holiday schedules
  • Pick up and drop off times.

A parenting plan can be as general or as specific as you and the other parent would like. You can reach this agreement through direct negotiations or through negotiations that involve the use of a mediator.

A court will need to approve the parenting plan. The court’s approval will depend on whether the plan meets the child’s best interest. So, you must use your child’s best interest as your guide when you work on a parenting plan with the other parent.

If you cannot get sole custody of your child through a parenting plan, then you can ask a court to decide custody for you. In Arizona, a court will make a custody decision based on factors that include:

  • Relationship that each parent maintains with the child
  • How custody could affect the child’s relationship with siblings
  • Child’s adjustment to his or her community, school and home
  • Mental and physical health of all parties involved
  • Which parent will foster a loving relationship between the child and other parent
  • Whether each parent acted transparently with the court
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Any coercion or duress involved in obtaining a parenting agreement
  • Any history of abuse or neglect.

To prove that being granted full custody is within your child’s best interests, you will need to provide different types of evidence. Proof that you are the primary caregiver, and that you maintain a loving, close relationship with your child will be important. Child counselors, teachers, friends, other parents and more may all be able to testify about the relationship.

Can a Sole Custody Arrangement Be Changed?

Once a court enters a child custody order, the parents must comply with it. If either parent fails to follow the court order, that parent could face serious repercussions. For instance, the court could fine the parent or hold the parent in contempt of court.

If you face any difficulty with meeting the terms of a child custody order, or if you believe that the other parent is violating the order, then you can petition the court for a modification. If you show that modification is necessary due to a significant change in circumstances that affects the child’s welfare, a court may modify the order – even an order which had granted sole custody to one parent.

What Will My Family Law Lawyer Do for Me?

It is not easy to obtain a sole custody agreement. In most cases, there is a presumption that a child maintaining a relationship with both parents is what’s best for the child, barring any circumstances that would suggest otherwise. As such, in addition to gathering evidence to bolster your case that you are a great parent, you may also need to gather evidence against your spouse if they are requesting custody of your child, too.

If your spouse does not want custody of your child, you can enter into an agreement that states this and present it to the court. This is the most straightforward and simplest way of achieving sole custody, although it is not always feasible.

When you work with a family law attorney at Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, your attorney will manage all aspects of your sole custody claim, including:

  • Guiding you through the law and helping you to understand the factors which the court will consider in making a custody determination
  • Representing you in all negotiations with the other parent
  • Gathering eyewitnesses and other forms of evidence to prove your case and your fitness as a parent
  • Gathering evidence to prove that your spouse is unfit to have custody of your child (if that is an issue in your case)
  • Representing you before a court
  • Advising you when it comes to negotiations and which course of action to pursue (such as out reaching a parenting plan or pursuing litigation).

Get Help from an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer Today

To learn more about child custody in Arizona and what you can do to improve your chances of being granted sole custody of your child, contact Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC today. We would be glad to review your case in a confidential consultation.

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About the Author

Zachary Mushkatel discovered his affinity for the law by chance. As a political science major at the University of Arizona, he first aspired to become a professor. But an unexpected invitation to participate on a mock trial team at the university encouraged him to turn his competitive spirit and drive…