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What Happens when Parents Who Have Joint Custody are Not Capable of Co-Parenting?

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When two people are not capable of co-parenting this can be either the fault of one person or mostly be the fault of both people. I have a hard time believing that the inability to co-parent is just the fault of one person. I tend to think that when there is an issue or dispute between two people some party has a role, even though it may be a very small role, in that ability to co-parent.

But what if two people have been at each other's throats and the relationship has been toxic for years or sometimes it's just several months. What if that inability to co-parent is really affecting the child and showing up in the child's behaviors at home or at school.

I have had the unfortunate experience of having a couple of judges really take severe action and doing something about that inability to co-parent. In a couple of my cases many years ago, some judges observed the parties and the fact that they were always in court. There was always high-conflict. There was always arguing and...

Service by Publication - Filing for Custody When the Other Parent is Missing

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If you are filing for custody & the other parent is missing these are steps for a service by publication.

Several times a year I have a client come to me for a consultation and they want to file a lawsuit to get custody of their child. The problem they are facing is the other parent may have been missing for months or even years. And the other parent feels stuck because they know they are required by law to give that parent notice of the lawsuit but they can't find that person.

Check with your state's statutes because there should be a provision within those statutes for service by publication. What that means if you cannot find the person then you can serve the person by publishing notice of the lawsuit in a special periodical. In Arizona we have several different newspapers where you can publish notice of a lawsuit. You're basically just putting it out there in case the person is reading that something has been filed and that they need to respond.

There are special rules...

What Happens if You Choose to Do Nothing in Your Custody Case?

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The short answer is, if you don't do anything in your case it's not going to be pretty. There are probably a couple of things that can happen.

The first thing that can happen is if someone has filed a petition against you and their asking for a specific result and you haven't responded, or you haven't made an appearance in that case, you haven't responded to discovery requests, you're not showing up for hearings. The likely result is that the judge is going to enter a judgement against you. In some states this is called a Default Judgement.

In a case where you are not doing anything, the other party is probably going to get everything that he or she wants. I have not had this happen in a number of years, but there have been a couple of times where the other party does nothing and what ends up transpiring is me and my client go to a hearing. A judge takes testimony and my client makes requests about whatever he or she is asking for and the judge grants those requests.

The second...

Keep a Co-Parenting Communication Log in High Conflict Situations

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Right now in my law practice I have a few different cases where the two parties, the two parents are extremely high conflict. There is almost no subject that they don't have issues over and that they don't get into an argument about.

As a result of this they are having trouble communicating about
their children when the children are with one parent and then go back to the other parent. Especially this happens like during the flu season, the kids are sick or there is some sort of allergy infection, or the kid needs to go to the doctor. The parties just cannot talk about this stuff.

Communication is really important when you are trying to co-parent with the other parent. I realize though in some cases it's just not possible because of the level of animosity and conflict.

So this is what I suggest to my clients who are dealing with somebody who they're having a hard time talking to. I recommend a communication journal or a communication log that goes back and forth with the...

Obtaining an Emergency Custody or Parenting Time Order When You Think Your Child is At Risk

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There are a lot of instances when you want to change custody or parenting time orders on an emergency basis. I was sitting in a court that handles restraining orders, waiting with my client for my hearing to be called. I was watching all the people ahead of me talking to the judge about why they should be granted an order of protection, also known as a restraining order.

In one particular case the woman was begging the judge for a restraining order with her children on it. The reason was because the ex had just been arrested driving impaired while the children were in the car. In Arizona, that is considered a felony offense, a very serious offense.

The judge declined to issue a restraining order with the kids on it which would have prohibited the ex from having parenting time with the children. The judge felt as though the woman should have been going back to the family court judge who issued the orders on custody and parenting time. And talking to that judge about whether an...

Parental Disputes Over School Choice in Joint Custody

In joint custody school choice usually comes up when two parents can't agree on where a child is going to go to school. When I started doing family law over two decades ago, the subject of school choice rarely came up. But this is something that comes up more and more in my practice as of late.

It really comes up when one parent wants the child to go to a private school, for example, that costs money and the other parent wants the child to go to a public school because he or she can't afford the cost of the private school.

In litigating these types of cases, this is the type of information that I have my client research and that I present to the judge. First and foremost I want to know what the different ratings are for each of the schools that are options. I have my client go online and do research. It's pretty easy to do that. You can get the ratings, student teacher ratio and download and print out any other resources that are available. Then I usually use those print outs as...

Avoid This Mistake When Preparing a Petition to Modify Custody or Parenting Time

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This is an example of a petition to modify custody or parenting time that went wrong when it was presented to the judge. 

A recently consulted with a potential client and this potential client had gotten a document prepared for him. He did this to help him in preparing a petition to modify custody and parenting time with his children.

What ended up happening though was when the judge took a look at the client'w petition to modify the document prepared had prepared the judge found that that petition did not set forth a legal reason for custody to be modified. As a result the judge just dismissed the case and didn't even give the client a potential hearing.

It doesn't happen a lot but more and more judges are doing it because they are so overwhelmed with cases and if they don't find that the person establishes the bare necessity of what they need to in their pleading, in their motion, the judge may dismiss the case.

So this is a tip that I gained and want to share with you...

What if Child Does Not Want to Spend Time with The Other Parent?

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What happens when a child tells one parent they don't want to spend time with the other parent?

I get a ton of questions all the time from people who have children that are old enough to express themselves and they are mature enough to say what they want and don't want.

And those kids are telling one parent that they don't want to go and spend time with the other parent. This can be a problem especially if there is a court order in place that says the other parent is entitled to a certain amount of parenting time.

You are always obligated to follow the court order. If you don't follow the court order you could be brought in front of the court for an enforcement action which means the judge could force you to follow the order. At the very worst you could be brought in front of the court for a contempt of court proceeding in which the judge would look at whether or not you knowingly and willfully violated the court order.

In some cases judges really get unhappy when someone doesn't...

Can You Withhold Parenting Time if Your Spouse Fails to Pay Child Support?

In my family law practice a lot of people come to me, especially those who are entitled to receive child support. They want to know if they are entitled to withhold parenting time from the other parent due to non-payment of child support.

My inclination is to say No, because that is not in the child's best interest. Parenting time and child support are two separate issues. Just like if a parent is obligated by a court order to pay child support...if there is then is a court order in effect that says a parent is entitled to a certain amount of parenting time, then they are entitled to get it.

The parent may not be happy because they are not getting child support, but they still must give the other parent the parenting time according their agreement. Because if they don't, they could face the same consequences that the parent who is failing to pay child support faces.

So, there are ways to get a parent to pay child support if they are not doing it, other than withholding parenting...

Obtaining a Restraining Order/Order of Protection in a Custody or Divorce Case.

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Restraining orders can be called different things depending on the jurisdiction you live in. For example in Arizona there are 2 types of restraining order in the family law arena. One is called an order of protection & an order of protection could be placed into effect by a judge if a person comes in and is able to convince the judge that either domestic violence has occurred in a relationship or that it could occur in the relationship.

In this type of order you have to show the court that there's some sort of domestic relationship. It doesn't necessarily have to be a marriage. It could be a boyfriend/girlfriend type of situation or a living together situation. But there does have to be some sort of romantic relationship.

The other type of restraining order in Arizona is called an injunction against harassment. So as far injunctions against harassment, there may not necessarily be domestic violence. Domestic violence is not needed to get an injunction against harassment, nor...