Arizona Child Custody Process
Attempting to get custody of a child can seem like a daunting and complicated process. However, don’t let this stop you from trying. It’s important to do what’s right for the child or children, even if that means filling for custody so that you are awarded guardianship. It’s good to know that child custody laws do differ from state to state in many notable ways, however, the process is usually the same.
If you live in Arizona, you’ll need to hire a reputable Arizona child custody lawyer to help you through the process, which can be lengthy depending on the circumstances. To help guide you down this path, we have compiled a comprehensive guide to the Arizona child custody process so that you understand everything that needs to be done so that you increase the chances of winning the case. As notable Arizona child custody attorneys, we have extensive experience and knowledge on the subject and hope this helps you fully understand what will happen during the entire legal process. This is a general idea and you’ll need to speak with an Arizona child custody lawyer in order to get better information as it deals with your specific background, intent, and case.
Meet with An Arizona Child Custody Attorney
First and foremost, you’ll want to meet with a well-known Arizona child custody lawyer about your case. This way you aren’t entering the process blindly and will have someone with experience in these matters guide you along the way. You’ll want someone well versed in Arizona child custody law to represent you so that you have better chances of winning custody of the child or children.
1. Filling Out Paperwork
To get the custody process in motion, you must first fill out extensive paperwork, which your Chandler Family law attorney will provide. Yes, this step will be tedious given all the paperwork that needs to be filled out, but it’s essential in starting the case. A few of the documents necessary include:
- A Notice of Appearance, which is filed with the court to declare that you’ll have an Arizona child custody lawyer representing you on the matter.
- The Family Court cover sheet/Sensitive Data Sheet that will require you to fill in sensitive information like birthdays, Social Security numbers and the like.
- A Summons to Respond/Appear letter
- A Petition to Establish Paternity, Child Support, Child Custody and so on, which will depend on your specific nature of the matter.
- A cover sheet
You will also have to submit a filing fee, which can differ depending on which county court you file your paperwork in. You’ll also need to certain paperwork notarized by a Notary Public. You might also need to file the forms in person at your local courthouse, but most likely, your Chandler Child Custody attorney will do this for you.
2. Serve the Other Party Involved in the Matter
Once the paperwork has been filed, it’s time to serve the other party involved in your custody matters. The best way (and the cheapest way) to do so is via certified mail, with restricted delivery and return receipt. You’ll definitely want to use restricted delivery if there’s someone else that lives with the other party and who might sign for the delivery (this could invalidate the service). This will cost between $10 and $20, depending on the weight of the documents. The fee will also depend on whether you want a physical postcard to be returned to you or electronic confirmation.
But if they refuse to sign for the certified mail, then you’ll need to hire a process server to do so, which can set you back up to $100. The cost will depend on the company you use, how far away they’ll have to go and how hard it will be to serve the other party. But if this doesn’t work, too, you can ask the court to be able to serve by alternative methods. However, you’ll need to prove that you ran out of all reasonable options or don’t know where they are.
3.Register for A Parenting Class
More than likely, the court will ask that you register for a parenting class. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a bad parent. Know that it’s just part of the Arizona Child Custody law process. You’ll need to take a certified course within 45 days after you’ve served the other party. The fee for the parenting class will vary and you can find information on courses on Arizona’s Superior Court’s website. Check out this article for parenting class tips:
4. Wait Before Filing A Consent Decree
If you and the other party agree to all terms of the child custody matters, and then continue to do so, you’ll have to wait at least 60 days after service is affected to be able to file a consent decree that all parties have signed. It may take a while for a judge to sign it (they have up to 60 days to rule). However, you should get back the order no more than three months after starting the entire child custody process.
5. Wait for A Response
If all parties live in Arizona, then you’ll have to wait 20 days once they’ve been served to respond and 30 days if they live out of state.
6. File for Default Judgment If There’s No Response
If the other party doesn’t get responses back, you can now ask the court for a default proceeding against them for failing to appear or responding in a timely manner. Most likely, you’ll get everything you initially asked for in the petition (within reason), but still, need to wait about 90 days from the filing date before a judge signs off on a default decree.
7. Head to Court
If there is a response, then the case will be assigned to a judge’s division and a preliminary hearing will be set up. This is referred to as a Resolution Management Conference, where the judge wants to hear from both parties before they reach an agreement. If no agreement is settled upon, then the court will set a trial date, where you’ll need to be represented by an experienced Chandler Child Custody attorney.
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