Child Custody

questions & answers

Question: MY SON'S FATHER AND I HAVE NEVER BEEN MARRIED, NEVER LIVED TOGETHER AND HAS BEEN IN AND OUT OF MY SONS LIFE SINCE HE WAS 2 WEEKS OLD. HE IS ON THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE BUT IVE PHYSICALLY AND FINANCIALLY SUPPORTED MY SON WITHOUT A DIME FROM HIS FATHER OR HELP FROM HIS FATHERS FAMILY. HE'S MISSED ALL BIRTHDAYS, HOLIDAYS, ETC. HOW CAN I GET FULL LEGAL CUSTODY OF MY SON AND HOW EXACTLY WOULD THE PROCESS WORK IF HIS FATHER COMES AND GOES? I AM NOT LOOKING FOR CHILD SUPPORT. I JUST WANT LEGAL DOCUMENTATION SO THAT HE IS NOT ABLE TO TRY TO TAKE MY SON FROM ME. SOMEONE HELP??

Answer: Do you have a custody order (now called legal decision-making and parenting time) from the court already in place?  If not, you can file a petition with the court asking for full legal decision-making.  You can do this on your own without legal help, but it is always preferable to at least meet with a lawyer and figure out the best approach.  There are three programs in Arizona that you can use to get inexpensive legal advice and guidance.  One is the modest means program.  You will need to apply for the program and meet the financial qualifications.  Once you are qualified, Modest Means will send you a list of attorneys whose practice covers your area of concern.  You select a lawyer from the list and will be entitled to a one hour consultation for $75.  If you need additional help and if the lawyer agrees to take your case, the most you will be charged is  $75 per  hour.  The telephone number is (866) 637-5341.  Both Maricopa and Pima Counties have lawyer referral programs that offer a 30 minute consult with an attorney.  Maricopa County's Lawyer Referral Service offers its 30 minute consult with an experienced attorney for $40.  The telephone number is (602) 257-4434.  Pima County's Lawyer Referral Service offers a 30 minute attorney consult for $35.  The telephone number is (520) 623-4625.  If you want to do it all on your own, you can find the forms and instructions on the court's website.  Go to https://www.azcourts.gov/selfservicecenter/Family-Law-Forms.  You will need to serve the papers on the child's father.  This allows him an opportunity to contest.  The fact that he has had such little and sporadic contact and does not pay child support will work in your favor.

QUESTIONS

  • MY SON'S FATHER AND I HAVE NEVER BEEN MARRIED, NEVER LIVED TOGETHER AND HAS BEEN IN AND OUT OF MY SONS LIFE SINCE HE WAS 2 WEEKS OLD. HE IS ON THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE BUT IVE PHYSICALLY AND FINANCIALLY SUPPORTED MY SON WITHOUT A DIME FROM HIS FATHER OR HELP FROM HIS FATHERS FAMILY. HE'S MISSED ALL BIRTHDAYS, HOLIDAYS, ETC. HOW CAN I GET FULL LEGAL CUSTODY OF MY SON AND HOW EXACTLY WOULD THE PROCESS WORK IF HIS FATHER COMES AND GOES? I AM NOT LOOKING FOR CHILD SUPPORT. I JUST WANT LEGAL DOCUMENTATION SO THAT HE IS NOT ABLE TO TRY TO TAKE MY SON FROM ME. SOMEONE HELP??

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OTHER LEGAL RESOURCES

  • State Bar of Arizona
    www.azbar.org
  • Maricopa County Bar
    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
  • Pima County Bar
    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
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