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  4.  » Arizona Mothers: Know Your Rights

In disputes about child custody, parenting time, visitation rights, and legal decision making, mothers often wonder about their specific rights. Under Arizona law, it’s important to understand that parents are seen as legal equals, and judges cannot make determinations based on sex or gender of either the parents or the child.Still, that doesn’t mean that mothers are powerless in such disputes. Ultimately, Arizona law favors the best interests of the child, and mothers are well within their rights to present evidence and testimony to show their past history and future ability to provide care and stability for the child.

In the past, Arizona was considered to be a “mother’s state,” where laws regarding child custody, support, decision making, and the like tended to favor women and mothers. As of 2013, however, new legislation puts parents on more equal footing.

There are some differences between the immediate parental rights of mothers depending on marital status and whether legal paternity has been established.

Married Mothers

When parents get divorced, making determinations about child custody is usually one of the largest, most emotionally charged concerns. For mothers, many worry that they will have to relinquish time with their child, lose the ability to make decisions on their behalf, or that coparenting with the father will not be in the best interest of the child.

If mutual agreements cannot be reached as part of the divorce process, disputes about children often go to family court, where the focus will be on each parent’s ability to provide for the best interests of their child, as well as the stability of the individual, their behaviors, their financial circumstances, and so on.

Unmarried Mothers

For unmarried mothers, parental rights are largely dependent on the establishment of legal paternity. If paternity has been established by genetic test, mutually signed affidavit, legal acknowledgment, or other means, then the parental rights are essentially equal for both parents.If, however, legal paternity has not been established, the mother remains the primary custodian and legal decision maker unless a court decides otherwise.

Making a Case

While mothers are not granted particular rights by Arizona law simply because they are mothers, they are afforded the opportunity to establish, through documentation, hearings, and other channels, that they are primary residential parent, show a history of providing care and making crucial decisions, present information about the father’s behavior, and so on.Courts will carefully examine the information presented, including any history of substance abuse or violence, the stability of the home, and past history. For mothers unable to find mutual disagreements with fathers, these stages of court proceedings are the best chance to make a case.

No two situations will be exactly alike, and whether you’re seeking sole custody, fighting for child support payments, disagreeing about visitation and parenting time, or working through important decisions for your child, the courts are obligated to rule in favor of the child’s best interests.

For assistance assembling your case, questions about what documents to file, and to form a plan to create the best outcomes for you and your child, contact the Law Offices of Steven N. Cole today to schedule a free consultation.