Child Custody and Parenting Time

The Best Interests of Your Child is Paramount

Whether you were married or not married to the other parent, separation changes everything about your family, including the time you spend with your children. The goal is to make the transition as easy as possible for your children in order to keep life as close to "normal" as possible. All decisions are made "in the best interests of the child" as determined by Arizona state law.

Child Custody, Legal Decision-Making Authority and Parenting Time Issues

Upon the filing of a divorce which involves minor children, the court orders each parent to take a parent education class and to attend mediation. Mediation is a free service conducted by experienced mediators at the Conciliation Court. It provides you and your spouse the opportunity to settle custody/legal decision-making authority, and parenting time issues.

Lawyers are not present during mediation. Prior to your scheduled mediation, however, attorney Merle Stolar will meet with you and will educate you on the many possible parenting time arrangements, so that you will be able to make the best informed decisions during mediation. In mediation, you and your spouse will discuss custody/legal decision-making authority, and parenting time for your children in order to meet their needs now, and as your children grow up, to meet their needs in the future.

If you and the other parent are unable to reach a settlement during mediation regarding custody and parenting time, these issues will necessarily have to be litigated, and the court will determine custody and parenting time for you and your children. It is always better to reach a negotiated custody and parenting time agreement with the other parent, but if necessary, attorney Stolar is prepared to litigate these issues.

Legal Decision Making Versus Parenting Time

Legal decision making defines the authority to make major, non-emergency decisions for your children about issues including medical, education, and religious upbringing.

  • Joint Legal Decision-Making Authority (formerly "joint custody") is defined as both parents must consult with each other and share legal decision-making authority about non-emergency decisions for their children. An order for joint legal decision-making authority does not necessarily mean the parents will share equal parenting time.
  • Sole Legal Decision-Making Authority (formerly "sole custody") is defined as one parent alone - without consulting with the other parent - has the authority to make decisions for the children.

Parenting time is defined as the amount of time the children spend with each parent. A parenting time plan will include a schedule when the children are with each parent on a day-to-day basis and will also include a schedule for holidays, vacation time, and school breaks.

To learn more about child custody and parenting time issues, call Law Office of Merle L. Stolar, P.L.L.C., at (520) 628-7777, Extension 163, or contact us online, or via email at [email protected]

Children with Special Needs

Attorney Merle Stolar has worked with many child custody situations including those involving children with special needs, and families experiencing domestic violence or substance abuse.

Attorney Stolar holds a Master of Education degree (Special Education) and was formerly a first-grade teacher and later a special education teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a great deal of experience in understanding the delicacy of cases involving children who have special needs and determining what the best interests of a child may be while accommodating the wishes and schedules of the parents.

Merle is always attentive to your needs and offers professional service with personal attention to your unique situation.