How to Prepare for a Child Custody Case in Arizona
When engaging in a contested custody fight, the best defense is preparation. You need to know how to prepare for a child custody case in Arizona. There are several key steps that any parent must take in order to present themselves in the best light possible. Preparation and documentation will not only help the attorney, it will save time and money, which benefits all parties involved. First, any online social networking activity needs to be heavily monitored and, if possible, eliminated completely. Photographs depicting drinking, partying, or any questionable activities should be removed. It’s helpful to enlist friends in this process and ask anyone who has posted such photos to remove them immediately. It’s also a good idea to remove most, if not all, photos of the children in question.
There is an argument that can be made for the safety of the children when their photos are linked to an address, even if it’s only a city. Ideally, all social networking should cease for the duration of the fight. Secondly, scour the Internet for incriminating photographs of the other party. Just as such photos can be used against you, they are invaluable in painting the opposing party in a negative light. It’s much easier to back up an argument of instability with photographic evidence. Print the photos out and, if possible, reveal the context in which they were found. Make sure that they are public photographs, and that the site is visible.
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Additionally, use search engines to discover any arrests, warrants, or illegal activity by the other party. These records are public and a quick search can reveal something that will completely change the direction of the case. Another helpful tool is documenting all visitation with the children. Invest in a calendar program and record every visit, phone call, email, or other communication. Doctor visits, parent-teacher conferences, extra-curricular activities and such also show positive parental involvement.
Purchase a camera with a time and date stamp, and take photographs of these visits so that the timestamp is visible. If an occasion occurs where visitation is denied, provide evidence that the visitation was attempted. Use the camera to photograph a landmark near the agreed upon meeting place. Print these out for the attorney.
A common mistake many parents make is to use their children as a weapon. It’s a critical mistake and not only hurts the case but also hurts the children. Stick to the agreed upon visitation schedule and do not limit parenting time, and be positive in all interactions with the opposing party. Negative comments and bickering upset the children and reflect badly on the parents. Keep communications as neutral as possible, and avoid a confrontational approach.
Finally, the best and most important step is to love your children and make sure that know as little as possible about any animosity between the parents. It is vital that their lives not be disrupted more than they already have been. Children crave stability and structure, and when the dust settles it is important that they know that they weren’t the cause of any negative feelings or events. Shelter them from as much of the fighting as possible, and when it is over, compassion and tenderness will help them transition gracefully into their new life.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article to ensure everyone has access to information about family law in Arizona. Chris is a divorce and family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and, quite frankly, actually caring about what his clients are going through in a divorce or family law case. In short, his practice is defined by the success of his clients. He also manages all of the other attorneys at his firm to make sure the outcomes in their clients’ cases are successful as well.