Child Custody for Unmarried Parents in Arizona

Scottsdale lawyers advise on Arizona rules relating to decision-making and residence

As part a part of the divorce process, an order is issued that addresses custody of the children of the marriage. However, unmarried parents don’t end their relationship in court, so terms governing parental authority, residence and visitation might not be formalized. In some cases, fathers find that they don’t have legal rights at all. The lawyers at Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona handle a wide range of matters relating to child custody for unmarried parents. With our depth of experience, we can help you pursue a productive resolution.

Do unmarried parents share custody in Arizona?

Our Scottsdale child custody lawyers will pursue appropriate parenting arrangements through negotiations with your former partner. If going to court becomes necessary, our attorney will outline the factors that the judge might consider when determining what is in your child’s best interests. There is a presumption that shared custody is best for children, so if an unmarried man is the legal father of a child, he could be given a share of parenting time and decision-making authority.

Will a paternity test establish a father’s rights?

Establishing legal paternity is the first step for an unmarried father who seeks custody and visitation rights. If your child’s mother does not voluntarily acknowledge that you fathered her child, you might need to undergo DNA testing and to seek a paternity order in court. However, demonstrating a biological tie between you and your child is not enough to qualify for custody rights. These decisions are based on what is in the best interests of the child. Typically, courts will grant fathers parenting time, but negative factors like a history of drug use or domestic violence could lead to restrictions. Whether you are just starting the process of establishing legal parentage or are interested in getting full custody of your son or daughter, our firm can explain the necessary steps.

Is custody shared if the father is named on the birth certificate?

Custody is not the same thing as paternity. An unmarried father who is named on their child’s birth certificate still must obtain an order that sets forth his custody rights. Depending on the parents’ wishes and what the judge believes to be best for the youth, legal and physical custody may be shared, but that decision is not automatic.

Does custody impact child support in Arizona?

Both parents are legally responsible for supporting the child financially. If one parent has primary physical custody, the other parent is usually required to make payments in order to fund the everyday needs of their son or daughter. Changes in custody arrangements could affect the amount that one party has to pay the other and might even lead the court to switch the paying and recipient parents.

Other conditions affecting custody for unmarried parents

When making a custody decision, the judge can consider any factor deemed to be relevant. For example, parental behavior that creates a risk for the child — such as neglect, substance abuse or violence — is taken very seriously. A judge might also examine whether unmarried parents ever lived together with the child in order to evaluate how comfortable the child would be residing with either party. Minors who are mature enough to express their wishes may also have an impact on the decision, though the court does not have to abide by the child’s preferences.

Contact an experienced Scottsdale custody lawyer for a consultation

Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. handles child custody matters for Arizona clients who were never married to their co-parents, as well as those going through a divorce. To make an appointment for a consultation at our office in Scottsdale, please call 602-789-3497 or contact us online.