You are not alone in this situation. We have helped many fathers like you gain access to their child.
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On a typical day at our offices, we receive 1 or 2 calls from fathers who are being denied access to their child. We understand how difficult and frustrating it is for fathers to have their child kept from them. This is especially true when it seems like she is doing for no good reason—or just out of spite.
You are not alone in this situation. We have helped many fathers like you gain access to their child. We have helped many of these fathers go from no parenting time to equal parenting time, and in some instances, we have assisted fathers who went from no parenting time to full custody. We can help you get your rights to your child and to be the parent you want to be for your child.
Studies show that the children do better when they have both parents in their lives, yet it is not unusual to see a mother trying to cut a father out of their child’s life. For unmarried fathers in such a situation, their hand is forced—they need to file with the Court to establish their rights. In most cases, the child will be better off because they did so,
In other cases, even when the father is being permitted to see the child, filing to establish rights may still be necessary to ensure that he is the “legal parent” of the child and protects his rights to the children.
Questions to Consider:
As an unmarried father, until you “establish”, your rights don’t exist. There are four components to what must be established, and you need to establish all four in order to make your rights equal to Mother’s:
While Arizona’s laws allow a mother to be in control before a dad establishes his rights, it’s a different story once you’re in Court and a judge is deciding what will happen. With your rights being established, no more gender preferences exist. Judges are to decide what to order based strictly on the best interests of the child. Under Arizona law, judges are to presume a child’s best interests are for each parent to share in legal decision-making and have as much parenting time as possible. Therefore, unless someone presents enough evidence to convince the judge that another arrangement is more appropriate, a judge will typically order joint legal decision-making and equal parenting time. Of course, if the judge is convinced there are safety concerns, logistical issues, or some other reasons why 50-50 would not be in the child’s best interests, the judge can order a different plan.
Filing the Petition to Establish. The Petition to Establish is the paperwork that starts the Court process. It contains several documents in addition to the Petition to Establish, including a summons and, if a Father is on the birth certificate, a Preliminary Injunction.
Service. You will need to serve the mother with your Petition. You can serve her in one of three ways: (1) via process server, (2) via certified mail, return receipt, delivery restricted to the mother, or (3) giving her the paperwork and having her sign an Acceptance of Service in front of a notary. Merely handing her the papers is not service. Proof that service was made needs to be filed with the Court.
Response. The mother will have twenty (20) days to file a Response if she was served in Arizona. If outside of Arizona, she has thirty (30) days. If she does not file a Response, you can move for default.
Temporary Orders? You have the option of filing for temporary orders. Temporary orders are somewhat common in Father’s rights cases because the mothers often are not letting the father see the child. A temporary order is the quickest option to get a court order in place. It can still take two months to get temporary orders in place—but that’s about as swiftly as the court system can move. Temporary orders are also expensive because they require a trial, and even though they shouldn’t, they also have a direct impact on the final disposition of the case. So, before filing for temporary orders, it is important to consider whether it is the right move for you.
Disclosure, Discovery, and Evaluations. Disclosure is the process in which you must disclose to the mother any documents or other evidence you wish to use in court. Rule 49 of the Family Law Rules of Procedure require you to disclose certain items to the mother. Discovery describes the different court processes of obtaining information from the mother or a third party. In many contested custody cases, the Court will appoint a neutral third party to conduct interviews and examine evidence and make recommendations to the Court.
Judges often give a speech to parents about the importance of the parents themselves deciding what happens with a child. Parents are in a better position to know what is best for their child than a judge is. Because a judge typically has 700-800 cases going at any one time, the judge will probably only spend a few hours on your case. For that reason, judges encourage parents to try and settle. The judge may order you to attend mediation or exchange settlement letters.
If an agreement can be reached, the two of you will prepare and file a Parenting Plan and Child Support Order for the judge to sign.
If you cannot reach an agreement, you will need to go to trial. Trials require substantial work. You must make sure all your exhibits and witnesses have been disclosed to the other side by the applicable deadlines. You have to prepare the exhibits and deliver them to the Court by the deadline (usually a week ahead of trial) and deliver them in accordance with the instructions in the Minute Entry setting trial. You have to prepare your Pretrial Statement, which is the most important document you’ll file in a case. You have to prepare what you’re going to present, choose whether you’ll have anyone else testify, determine your cross-examination strategy, and then you have to put on the trial itself and be ready to make objections to mother’s evidence and handle objections mother may have for your evidence.
Arizona is a community property state. This means anything either spouse earned during the marriage belongs to both spouses.
It is possible to fix a bad ruling from the court, but it is difficult. Prior to trial, you were on even footing with the other party—you both had, in theory at least, an equal chance of prevailing.
Some parts of a Court’s ruling are not modifiable, including the division of property and an award of attorney’s fees. While many parts of the Court’s order are subject to modification, some parts are not.
There are four parts of every child custody case. The typical case has four parts to it: Paternity, legal decision-making, parenting time, and child support. Except in unusual circumstances, paternity will only get ruled on once.
Being on the birth certificate doesn’t mean you’re legally recognized as the father. When a child is born to an unmarried mother, only the mother’s rights are automatically established. The father will have to establish his rights separately.
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Any issue or question I have has always been answered. I am super grateful to Jillian because I feel like I have someone by my side 100% of the time.
Throughout this entire process, everyone at the firm treated me with the courtesy and respect that you would extend a lifelong friend, and for that humble gesture I shall remain forever grateful . . .
The best at what they do! Im so impressed by the knowledge Stephen has off the top of his head. The whole crew is amazing . Would highly recommend them.
I've never met such a passionate, organized, and responsive group of attorneys. Family law matters can be emotionally and legally challenging but this group stands out as the place to go to get great help
The team that works here is professional, timely, and has your best interests at the root of every decision. They work tirelessly and have an amazing array of experience to act on your behalf...needless to say, they’d always be my choice!
Highly recommend this firm for family law disputes. The efforts that they put forth to a case are some of the best that you can get, but they also know how to really work with a client and make it feel like a team atmosphere
I know some of the lead attorneys at State 48 Law Firm, and have complete faith and trust in their knowledge and professionalism. I would trust them implicitly, with my own legal needs.
Excellent team of attorneys. Everyone has a wealth of experience and a great depth of legal knowledge. I would highly recommend this firm to anyone.
I can't recommend State 48 Law Firm enough. They have a great team of experienced attorneys, although I highly recommend Bryce Johnson! He has a wealth of family law knowledge and will fight for you.
I've known and worked with State 48 attorney Bryce Johnson for several years and know him to be a considerate and tactful attorney who fights tooth and nail for his clients. I would recommend State 48 for your family law needs!
Everyone at State 48 Law Firm is great! Jillian Hansen will take the time to educate you about the process while showing empathy for the situation.
State 48 Law includes a very experienced team of lawyers who will work tirelessly for you. I would recommend their team, and specifically Bryce Johnson, to anyone.
During one of the most difficult periods in your life, it is imperative to find a lawyer and a law firm, who can look after your interests.
I’ve worked with this Team before & can’t say enough about their professionalism & constant communication. Highly recommend State48 for anything family law.
Ankita takes her time, is very responsive, and shows that she does care. You don’t usually find that compassion in a lawyer. I can’t thank her enough for helping us through our case and I highly recommended her!
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