Under the U.S. Constitution and state law, fathers are given parenting rights, and they have an equal opportunity to try and get child custody. Sometimes, though, fathers find it challenging to successfully exercise their rights. This is particularly true when the other side is vengeful or combative, and fathers must fight for their right to see and maintain a loving relationship with their children. So, what rights do fathers have in Arizona in child custody hearings? Our family lawyer explains below.
More Dads are Awarded Custody Today
Historically, although fathers have always had certain parental rights in Arizona, it was harder for them to obtain custody. This was because women traditionally stayed home decades ago to raise the children and maintain the household. Meanwhile, men worked outside of the home to earn an income and support the family. Today that is not necessarily the case.
Most households require two incomes today, meaning both mothers and fathers work outside the home. Even when one parent stays home, many times that is the father, as the traditional gender roles that were once in place generally no longer exist. As such, more and more fathers are awarded child custody than in years past.
What Rights Does a Father Have in Arizona?
Today, most divorced parents have joint parenting time and legal decision-making authority. Fathers can also be awarded sole legal-decision making authority when they have 182 or more days of parenting time. The authority to make decisions is legal custody, while parenting time is physical custody.
In every custody case, the family law courts will consider the best interests of the child, as well as each parent’s liberty interest under the Fourteenth Amendment. For the best possible outcome, it is imperative that fathers exercise their rights. These rights are as follows:
Decision-making power: Understate law, fathers have an equal right to pursue joint or sole legal decision-making for the child. If awarded sole decision-making, the father can then make decisions about the child’s health care, education, religious training, and more.
Parenting time: Parenting time allows fathers to have frequent, substantial, continuing, and meaningful contact with their children. Fathers have the right to seek the amount of parenting time they want, whether that is the majority of the time, less time, or equal time than the other parent. Even if the other parent has sole decision-making power, fathers still have a right to parenting time. When the other party does not uphold these rights, fathers also have the right to petition the court and ask a judge tosanction the other parent for their actions.
Fathers’ Rights and Parenting Plans
Fathers also have certain rights when a parenting plan is created. If a plan was not established through mediation or negotiation with the other parent, fathers can create and submit their own plan. Fathers have a right to include certain elements in the plan, and these are as follows:
Their preference for joint or sole legal decision-making,
Their preference for the personal care, health care, education, and religious training the child should be brought up in,
A proposed parenting time schedule,
Their preference for parenting time pick-ups and drop-offs,
Their preference for how the parents will communicate with each other, and
Their preferred method of resolving disputes in the future.
Although fathers do have the above rights, the other parent may not agree to the proposed plan. When this is the case, and the two parties cannot agree, the court will determine any element that has not been agreed upon.
Father’s Rights and Evidence
The courts will take many factors into consideration when making decisions about child custody. Although there are 11 in total in Arizona, a few of them include the past and present relationship the father has with the child, the father’s ability to help the child adjust to a new community, home, or school, and the mental and physical health of the father, the other parent, and the child.
When trying to prove a child custody case, fathers have just as much right as other parents to present evidence. Using strong evidence can show the court that it is in the child’s best interests to remain with the father or for the father to have equal or majority legal decision-making power.
Our Family Lawyer in Arizona Can Help You Uphold Your Rights
If you are a father involved in a custody dispute, it is critical that you exercise your rights. At Singular Law Group, PLLC, ourArizona family lawyer can advise you of your rights and make sure that they are upheld. Call us now or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation and learn more about your legal options.