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What Happens When Divorced Parents Disagree on Where to Send Their Child to School?

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Education Decisions and Disagreements-How a Legal Paraprofessional Can Help

Disagreements over educational choices can be a significant source of tension for divorced parents.

In Arizona, child custody agreements often mandate parents’ involvement in such decisions.

This article will explore what happens when divorced parents disagree on where to send their child to school, providing guidance and potential solutions to help resolve conflicts amicably and legally.

Table of Contents:

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, nearly 60% of divorced parents have disagreements about the school their child should attend.

De Novo Law can help you navigate these conflicts when one parent disagrees with professional guidance and support.

In Arizona, joint legal custody, also known as joint legal decision-making, means that both parents share the authority to make decisions regarding their child’s life, including education.

This custody arrangement requires parents to collaborate and agree on essential choices.

Joint legal custody ensures that both parents remain involved in their child’s upbringing, reflecting the child’s best interest as outlined in A.R.S. § 25-403.02.

This statute emphasizes the importance of parents having parenting time and a voice in their child’s life, including decisions about schooling.

When parents cannot agree, they must find a way to resolve their differences without compromising the child’s well-being.

Reasons Why Parents May Disagree About School Choice

Parents may disagree about school choice for various reasons, each rooted in their own perspectives and priorities.

Some common reasons include:

  • Differences in educational philosophy or values
  • Proximity of the school to each parent’s home
  • The child’s unique needs, such as special education requirements
  • Preferences for private school versus public schooling

Understanding the root cause of the disagreement is the first step toward finding a resolution that prioritizes the child’s needs.

These disagreements can stem from genuine concerns for the child’s best interests or lingering conflicts between the parents.

What to Do When Disagreements on School Arise?

Parents have various options to consider when disagreements arise to resolve the conflict.

Review Your Custody Agreement

The first step in resolving a disagreement about school choice is to review your custody agreement.

A custody agreement often includes provisions for how educational decisions should be made.

It may also outline a process for resolving disputes, such as through mediation.

Put Your Children’s Needs First

When parents disagree, focusing on what is best for the child is crucial. This involves considering factors such as the quality of education, the child’s social environment, and their emotional and developmental needs.

Parents should set aside personal differences and prioritize their child’s well-being.

File to Modify Your Custody Order

If parents cannot reach an agreement, they may need to file a petition to modify the custody order.

Under A.R.S. § 25-411, a court can modify a custody order if it finds a change is in the child’s best interests.

This step should be considered when all other efforts to resolve the disagreement have failed.

Work Out Your Disagreements With a Mediator or Parent Coordinator

Mediation can be an effective way to resolve disputes without going to court. A mediator is a neutral third party who helps parents communicate and reach a consensus.

Similarly, a parent coordinator can assist in implementing and enforcing agreements related to the child’s upbringing. These professionals can help parents find common ground and develop a mutually acceptable plan.

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

Disagreements about a child’s education can be challenging for divorced parents, but there are legal avenues and professional resources available to help resolve these conflicts.

Understanding your custody agreement, prioritizing your child’s needs, and seeking assistance from a Legal Paraprofessional can make the process smoother and more effective.

For professional guidance, contact De Novo Law, a legal paraprofessional specializing in family law, to ensure your child’s educational needs are met while respecting parental rights.

For more information about our services or to schedule a consultation, you can also reach us directly at (480) 725-2200 .

Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

DISCLAIMER: The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  De Novo Law, LLC and its Legal Paraprofessionals are not attorneys and are not authorized to provide legal advice or representation beyond the areas and scope of practice for which license is held.  The transmission or receipt of any electronic correspondence or information does not create a legal paraprofessional-client relationship.


Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.

De Novo Law Blog

Tips for Handling Parenting Time and Custody Schedules Over Summer Vacation

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Child Custody and Planning for Summer Vacation-How a Legal Paraprofessional Can Help

Navigating child custody and parenting time during summer break can be challenging for many families.

As the summer months approach, parents often face the task of coordinating schedules that ensure the best interests of their children while accommodating each parent’s time.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 20 million children in the United States live with one parent while the other parent lives elsewhere, making effective summer custody arrangements crucial for many families.

At De Novo Law, we understand the complexities involved in these arrangements and are here to help. Contact a Legal Paraprofessional today for personalized assistance with your summer parenting plan.

We will cover the following topics

Summer Vacation and Child Custody: 8 Tips for Parenting Time

Managing child custody during the summer can be tricky, but with careful planning and communication, it can be a rewarding time for both parents and children.

Here are eight tips to help you navigate summer parenting time:

  • Plan Early: Discuss summer schedules well in advance to allow both parents to make necessary arrangements.
  • Be Flexible: Understand that plans may need to change and be open to negotiation.
  • Prioritize the Child’s Interests: Focus on what is best for them, considering their activities, interests, and comfort.
  • Communicate Openly: Maintain clear and respectful communication with your co-parent to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Document Agreements: Write all agreed-upon plans to ensure clarity and avoid disputes later.
  • Consider Travel Plans: Discuss potential plans and how they might impact the custody schedule.
  • Account for Special Events: Be aware of any special events or holidays that may require adjustments to the schedule.
  • Seek Legal Advice if Needed: Consult a family law Legal Paraprofessional if you encounter any disputes or legal concerns.

By following these tips, you can create a summer schedule that works for everyone involved and ensures a smooth and enjoyable experience for your child.

Common Summer Visitation Schedules

Families in Arizona utilize several summer visitation schedules to manage parenting time effectively.

The schedule choice often depends on the children’s and parents’ needs and preferences.

What is the Most Popular Schedule for Child Custody in Arizona?

In Arizona, one of the most popular summer visitation schedules is the “week-on, week-off” arrangement.

This schedule allows each parent to have the child for alternating weeks, providing extended periods of quality time. This arrangement helps balance the time children spend with each parent and minimizes transitions, which can be especially beneficial during the summer when school is out.

Another common schedule is the “two weeks on, two weeks off” plan, which gives each parent two consecutive weeks with the child.

This longer period can be ideal for planning vacations or special activities, allowing children to enjoy uninterrupted time with each parent.

Which Types of Custody Arrangements Tend to be Best for Children?

The best custody arrangements prioritize the child’s stability, comfort, and needs.

Joint physical custody, where the child spends significant time with both parents, is often beneficial as it promotes strong relationships with both parents.

Consistency and routine are key in these arrangements, providing children with a sense of security.

Parents should consider the child’s age, temperament, and special needs when determining the best arrangement. 

Collaborative co-parenting, where parents communicate and cooperate effectively, produces more positive outcomes for children.

Do Parents Who Live Far Away From Each Other Impact What The Ideal Summer Custody Schedule Should Be?

The distance between parents’ residences significantly impacts the ideal summer custody schedule.

When parents live far apart, longer blocks of parenting time, such as month-long visits, can reduce the stress of frequent long-distance travel for the child.

This approach allows the child to settle into a routine and spend substantial time with each parent.

In these cases, it’s essential to plan ahead and consider the child’s travel needs and any logistical challenges.

Parents should also discuss maintaining communication and involvement with the non-custodial parent during extended stays.

How Summer Parenting Plans Can Change Based on Age

Children of different ages have varying needs and abilities to handle changes in routine.

Therefore, summer parenting plans should be tailored to the age and developmental stage of the child.

Infants & Toddlers

For infants and toddlers, maintaining a consistent routine is crucial.

Frequent, shorter visits are recommended to help young children feel secure and maintain strong attachments to both parents.

 During the summer, this might mean maintaining the regular visitation schedule with slight adjustments to accommodate any special plans or activities.

Key considerations are consistency in caregiving and minimal disruption to their routine. Parents should communicate about nap times, feeding schedules, and other essential aspects of care.

School-Aged Children

School-aged children can handle longer visits and may benefit from more extended time with each parent during the summer.

Week-on, week-off schedules or two-week blocks are common and allow children to enjoy different activities with each parent.

It’s also important to consider any summer camps, extracurricular activities, or special events the child may want to attend.

Parents should collaborate on creating a summer schedule that balances fun activities, family time, and any educational opportunities that might be available during the break.


Teenagers often have their own preferences and schedules, including social activities, summer jobs, and college preparation.

Flexibility is essential when planning summer custody arrangements for teens.

Parents should involve their teenage children in planning to accommodate their preferences and commitments.

A month-on, month-off schedule or a flexible arrangement that considers the teen’s activities and interests can work well.

Open communication and respect for the teen’s growing independence are crucial.

Can My Ex Stop Me From Taking My Child On Vacation?

If you share joint legal custody in Arizona, you generally have the right to take your child on vacation during your designated parenting time.

However, your ex can raise objections if the proposed vacation poses a significant risk to the child’s safety or well-being or if it interferes with their scheduled parenting time.

To avoid conflicts, provide your ex with detailed information about the vacation, including travel dates, destinations, and contact information. If your custody agreement includes specific provisions about travel, be sure to follow those guidelines.

Consider seeking mediation or legal advice to resolve the issue amicably if disagreements arise.

Do I Need Permission From My Ex to Travel With My Child?

Whether you need permission from your ex to travel with your child depends on the terms of your custody agreement and the nature of the travel.

Arizona courts typically require that both parents consent for international travel, and you may need to provide a notarized travel consent form.

 Domestic travel usually does not require explicit permission if it falls within your scheduled parenting time, but it is courteous and often recommended to inform your ex of your plans.

Ensure you check your custody agreement for any specific travel-related clauses.

If your ex unreasonably withholds consent, you may need to seek a court order to allow the travel.

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

Contact a Legal Paraprofessional from De Novo Law Today

Summer vacation presents a unique opportunity for parents to spend quality time with their children, but it also requires careful planning and communication to ensure smooth transitions and happy experiences.

Parents can create effective summer custody arrangements by understanding the legal aspects and considering the child’s best interests.

For assistance with your custody plans or any family law matters contact De Novo Law for expert guidance and support.

For more information about our services or to schedule a consultation, you can also reach us directly at (480) 725-2200 .

Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

DISCLAIMER: The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  De Novo Law, LLC and its Legal Paraprofessionals are not attorneys and are not authorized to provide legal advice or representation beyond the areas and scope of practice for which license is held.  The transmission or receipt of any electronic correspondence or information does not create a legal paraprofessional-client relationship.


Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.

De Novo Law Blog

My Ex Violated Our Child Custody Order, What Do I Do?

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Child Custody Orders- How a Legal Paraprofessional Can Help

Dealing with a custody agreement can be challenging, especially when one party fails to comply with the court-ordered terms. If your ex-spouse violates the custody order, it can be incredibly frustrating and concerning for the well-being of your children. In some cases, the violation may be minor and can be resolved through communication and mediation. However, if the violation is significant and ongoing, it may be necessary to take legal action.

When your ex-spouse repeatedly fails to comply with the custody order, it’s important to seek legal guidance to protect your children’s best interests. In some cases, the violation may warrant legal intervention, and even jail time for the offending party.

De Novo Law legal paraprofessionals can provide the necessary support and guidance to handle the legal processes involved in addressing custody order violations. In this article, we will explore the steps you can take if your ex-spouse has violated the child custody order and what options are available to ensure the safety and well-being of your children. 

We will cover the following topics:

What  Is Considering a Violation Of A Child Custody Order 

A child custody order, established during the divorce or separation process, outlines the rights and responsibilities of each parent regarding their child’s upbringing. Violations of this order can range from minor infractions to significant breaches, all of which can disrupt the child’s routine and negatively impact their well-being.

Understanding what constitutes a violation is important for enforcing and adhering to the custody agreement.

  1. Non-compliance with Visitation Schedules: This occurs when one parent fails to adhere to the visitation schedule outlined in the custody order. It can include not allowing the child to visit the other parent during the designated times, returning the child later than agreed, or refusing to hand over the child at the scheduled time. 
  2. Unapproved Relocation: Moving the child to a new location without the consent of the other parent or the court, especially if the move significantly affects the current custody arrangement or the other parent’s ability to visit the child.
  3. Making Unilateral Decisions: This involves making major decisions about the child’s life, such as those regarding education, healthcare, or religious upbringing, without consulting the other parent when joint legal custody is in place.
  4. Withholding Information: Failing to inform or update the other parent about crucial aspects of the child’s life, including educational progress, health issues, or significant social developments.
  5. Parental Alienation: Actively working to damage the child’s relationship with the other parent, whether through derogatory comments, false accusations, or obstructing communication and visitation between the child and the other parent.
  6. Travel Violations: Taking the child out of the agreed jurisdiction or out of the country without the consent of the other parent or the court, especially when the custody order has specific stipulations about travel.

Each of these actions can be seen as a violation of a child custody order, and depending on the severity and frequency, they may lead to legal consequences, including a reassessment of the child custody agreement by the court.

How Does The Court Enforce Parenting Time in Arizona? 

When one parent violates a parenting plan, the court can intervene through various mechanisms:

  1. Filing for Enforcement: The affected parent may file a petition, prompting the court to review the situation and enforce the custody order.
  2. Mediation: Courts may recommend mediation to resolve issues, encouraging parents to find an amicable solution with the help of a neutral third party.
  3. Legal Remedies: Depending on the severity of the violation, the court has several options:
    • Awarding make-up parenting time to compensate for missed visitation.
    • Imposing fines or requiring the violating parent to pay the other parent’s legal fees.
    • Modifying the custody order if violations are repeated or severe.
    • Mandating counseling or parenting classes to address behavioral issues.
    • Holding the violating parent in contempt of court, leading to fines or jail time.

The court’s primary focus in these actions is always the child’s best interests, ensuring their well-being and stability are maintained.

How To Deal With An Uncooperative Co-Parent 

Dealing with an uncooperative co-parent after a divorce or separation can be incredibly challenging. It’s helpful to approach this situation with strategies that aim to reduce conflict and foster a healthier co-parenting relationship.

 Prioritizing clear communication, establishing a consistent, clear way to talk about your child’s needs, and using written messages or co-parenting apps can avoid misunderstandings and keep a reliable record of your interactions.

It’s important to be straightforward yet respectful, focusing discussions on your child rather than any personal grievances.

Documenting every incident of non-cooperation or breach of the custody agreement. Record dates, times, and descriptions of any incidents, along with your attempts to resolve these issues. This documentation can come in handy, especially if legal intervention becomes necessary. Speaking of legal tools, don’t hesitate to use them if your personal efforts aren’t enough. Mediation can offer a neutral setting to work through conflicts, and if that doesn’t work, you might need to file a petition to enforce the custody order.

Remember to lean on your support network during these times.

Friends, family, or support groups can provide emotional support, and professional counseling might help you and your child cope with the stress of dealing with an uncooperative co-parent. And while you can’t control your co-parent’s actions, you can control how you respond. Stay calm, focus on your child’s well-being, and steer clear of conflicts, especially in your child’s presence.

What Are The Legal Ramifications For Not Following a Custody Order 

Not adhering to a custody order in Arizona is a serious matter and can lead to various legal ramifications. These consequences are designed to enforce compliance and protect the child’s best interests.

 Here are the primary legal repercussions for not following a custody order:

  1. Contempt of Court: This is one of the most common consequences. A parent who willfully disobeys a custody order may be held in contempt of court, which can result in fines, court-ordered community service, and in some cases, jail time.
  2. Modification of Custody Order: Persistent non-compliance can lead the court to reconsider the current custody arrangement. This could result in a reduction of custody or visitation rights for the non-compliant parent.
  3. Fines and Legal Fees: Courts can impose fines on the violating parent and may also order them to pay the legal fees incurred by the other parent in bringing the violation to the court’s attention.
  4. Make-up Parenting Time: The court may grant additional parenting time to the compliant parent to compensate for the time lost due to the violation.
  5. Mandatory Education or Counseling: The court might require the non-compliant parent to attend parenting classes or counseling sessions to address the behaviors that led to the violation.
  6. Restriction of Parental Rights: In severe cases, such as when a parent’s actions endanger the child’s well-being, the court may place restrictions on their parental rights, including supervised visitation or, in extreme situations, termination of parental rights.

Custody orders are not suggestions but legally binding agreements.

Violating a custody order can lead to severe legal consequences, not to mention the potential emotional and psychological impact on the child involved.

Requesting a Contempt Hearing in Response to Violations

When your ex violates your child custody order and diplomatic solutions falter, seeking a contempt hearing may be beneficial.

This legal avenue prompts the court to not only enforce the custody agreement but also to potentially penalize the non-compliant party.

If you find yourself contemplating this step, here’s a rundown of the process and its implications:

The term ‘contempt of court’ in family law signifies your ex’s deliberate violation of the custody order. To set this legal process in motion, you need to file a motion for contempt with the same court that issued the initial custody order. This document should outline the specific instances where the custody order was violated.

Backing your motion with substantial evidence is the next important step.

This might include documented exchanges, detailed visitation records, or any other tangible proof demonstrating the breach of the custody arrangement. If the court greenlights your motion, it will schedule a hearing. This is your platform to explain the violation’s nature and its repercussions on your child.

The consequences for your ex, if found in contempt, can range widely based on the violation’s severity and the court’s judgment. Options include granting additional parenting time to compensate for missed visits, imposing monetary penalties, mandating attendance in parenting classes, or, in serious scenarios, incarceration.

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

If you’re facing a situation where your ex has violated your child custody order, it can feel really overwhelming. But remember, there are steps you can take, and getting help from a child custody legal paraprofessional at De Novo Law can be a game-changer.

First things first, these experts know the ins and outs of family law. They can help you understand exactly what your custody order means and identify how it’s been violated. They’re great at helping you gather and organize any proof you have of these violations, like messages or documented incidents.

If you need to, they can guide you through the process of filing a petition with the court to address these violations. They know all the paperwork inside out, so they’ll make sure everything is completed correctly and on time. 

Sometimes, situations like these can be resolved without going to court. A legal paraprofessional can offer advice on negotiating with your ex and suggest resources like mediation, where you can both try to sort things out with the help of a neutral third party.

Having someone from De Novo Law Firm by your side can provide not just legal support but also peace of mind. They’re there to make sure your rights and your child’s best interests are protected every step of the way.

If you’re ready to take action and want expert help, contacting De Novo Law Firm is easy. De Novo Law offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case and can be reached at (480) 725-2200



Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

DISCLAIMER: The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  De Novo Law, LLC and its Legal Paraprofessionals are not attorneys and are not authorized to provide legal advice or representation beyond the areas and scope of practice for which license is held.  The transmission or receipt of any electronic correspondence or information does not create a legal paraprofessional-client relationship.


Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.

De Novo Law Blog

Special Needs Children and Child Custody Agreements

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Child Custody – How a Legal Paraprofessional Can Help

At De Novo Law, we specialize in tackling cases involving child custody for special needs children. This article offers insights into the implications of a special needs child turning 18 and the importance of special needs trusts as well as various other topics. 

Our Legal Paraprofessionals offer a distinct approach compared to traditional family law attorneys. Paraprofessionals are licensed to provide legal services in family law, including complex child custody cases involving special needs children.

They differ from attorneys in their focused expertise and the ability to offer more accessible and affordable legal support.

If you are dealing with child custody matters involving a special needs child, De Novo Law offers a free initial consultation to help you determine the best course of action.

We will cover the following topics:

Child Support in Special Needs Child Custody

Child custody cases involving special needs children in Arizona require careful consideration, especially regarding child support. 


Key Considerations in Calculating Child Support

  • Arizona Child Support Guidelines: While these guidelines provide a standard framework, they are adapted to accommodate additional costs like extraordinary medical expenses, special education, and care needs specific to the child.
  • Extraordinary Expenses: Medical care, therapy, and specialized education or care for the child significantly impact the child support calculation.

Modifying Child Support

  • Evolving Needs: Child support arrangements can be adjusted to reflect changes in the child’s needs or parents’ financial situations.
  • Court Intervention: Parents can request court intervention for modifications to the support order to address these changes.

Developing an Effective Custody Schedule for a Special Needs Child

In Arizona, the Smith family’s custody schedule for their 10-year-old daughter Emily, who has autism, is a model of consideration for special needs.

During weekdays, Emily stays with her mother, Mrs. Smith, who resides near Emily’s special education school and therapy center. This arrangement ensures minimal disruption to Emily’s routine, important for her well-being.

On weekends, Emily spends time with her father, Mr. Smith, ensuring she maintains a strong relationship with both parents. This balance allows Mr. Smith to actively participate in Emily’s care and routine, fostering a nurturing environment for her.

The Smiths alternate holidays and vacations, adapting their schedule for unforeseen changes, such as adjustments in therapy sessions. Their flexibility and communication are key, especially when coordinating around Emily’s medical and educational needs.

This schedule is regularly reviewed and adjusted in consultation with healthcare and education professionals, reflecting Emily’s evolving needs.

The Smiths’ collaborative approach, prioritizing stability, flexibility, and Emily’s best interests, exemplifies effective co-parenting in a special needs custody arrangement.

Joint legal custody of a special needs child in Arizona, under the guidance of Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), demands careful attention to the child’s unique requirements.

 ARS §25-403 prioritizes the child’s best interests in legal decision-making, while ARS §25-410 addresses emergency healthcare decisions, a critical aspect for special needs children.

Additional Considerations and Potential Issues

  • Education Plans: Joint legal custody requires parents to collaboratively decide on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) or 504 Plans, which may lead to disagreements on educational approaches or therapies.
  • Adjustments to Routine: For special needs children, consistency in routine is key. Transitions between households can be challenging, requiring parents to establish a stable environment in both homes.
  • Financial Responsibilities: Additional costs associated with the child’s care, like therapies, medications, and specialized equipment, must be equitably shared, often leading to disputes over financial obligations.
  • Parental Disagreements: Differences in parenting styles or opinions on medical and educational decisions can create conflicts, necessitating mediation or legal intervention.

Handling Challenges in Joint Legal Custody

  • Mediation and Legal Support: In cases of disagreement, ARS §25-402 recommends mediation. Parents may also seek legal counsel to ensure fair decision-making.
  • Adapting to Changes: As the special needs child grows, their needs may evolve, requiring adjustments to custody agreements and shared decision-making strategies.


Joint legal custody of a special needs child in Arizona involves complex considerations beyond standard custody arrangements.

Challenges such as coordinating education plans, managing financial responsibilities, and addressing routine disruptions require parents to work collaboratively and sometimes seek external support.

Understanding and Utilizing Special Needs Trusts in Custody Cases

In custody cases involving a special needs child, establishing a special needs trust is essential for the child’s long-term financial well-being.

This type of trust is specifically designed to handle the expenses of raising a child with disabilities without affecting their eligibility for government benefits like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

A special needs trust is a legal arrangement where assets are held and managed by a trustee to benefit a special needs individual. It’s crafted to provide for additional needs that are not covered by government assistance, including specialized medical care, educational needs, and personal care. 

In the context of custody cases, these trusts offer a structured way for both parents to contribute financially to their child’s care.

They ensure that funds are specifically used for the child’s benefit, offering clarity and accountability in financial contributions. 

Parents are encouraged to collaboratively establish the trust, often with the guidance of legal experts in special needs planning. This ensures the trust is compliant with both state and federal laws and serves the child’s best interests.

Transitioning to Adulthood: Custody and Support When a Special Needs Child Turns 18

As a special needs child in Arizona approaches the age of 18, changes can occur in custody and support arrangements.

At 18, the child is legally considered an adult, impacting existing custody orders and child support obligations.

However, for special needs individuals, reaching adulthood often doesn’t negate the need for continued parental support, both financially and in terms of care.

Key considerations during this transition include potential guardianship if the child cannot make decisions independently. Parents may need to legally establish guardianship to continue making important decisions for their child.

Additionally, decisions regarding adult living arrangements become pertinent, whether the child remains at home or moves to a specialized care facility.

Financial support also undergoes changes. Parents might have to modify child support agreements to better suit the child’s adult needs. Moreover, transitioning to adult government benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid requires planning to ensure uninterrupted support.

Establishing or continuing a special needs trust is important for providing necessary financial support without affecting the child’s eligibility for government aid. Parents should also explore suitable vocational and educational programs to support their child’s abilities and interests in adulthood.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1: What does “best interest of the child” mean in the context of a child with special needs?

A1: The “best interest of the child” standard in family law considers the unique needs of a child with special needs, including their health, emotional development, and education. It requires that custody decisions prioritize the child’s specific needs, ensuring their overall well-being.

Q2: How is physical custody determined for a child with special needs?

A2: Physical custody refers to where the child lives. In cases involving a child with special needs, the court will consider the child’s medical needs, daily care requirements, and routine stability when determining physical custody arrangements.

Q3: What should a parenting plan include for a special-needs child?

A3: A parenting plan for a special-needs child should outline specific routines, medical care plans, educational arrangements, and any necessary therapies. It should be detailed and flexible to accommodate the child’s evolving needs.

Q4: Are child support payments different when a child has special needs?

A4: Yes, child support payments may be adjusted to address the additional expenses a child with special needs may incur. This can include therapy, special education, and medical expenses.

Q5: Can a parent get full custody if their child requires special care?

A5: Sole custody may be granted if it’s in the best interest of the child, especially if one parent is better equipped to handle the child’s special needs. However, Arizona courts generally prefer arrangements that allow the child to have meaningful relationships with both parents.

Q6: What considerations are made for visitation schedules for special needs children?

A6: Visitation schedules for special needs children often require more structure to maintain routine and stability. They may need to account for the child’s therapy sessions, medical appointments, and other unique requirements.

Q7: How do custody matters differ when an older child with special needs is involved?

A7: For an older child with special needs, custody matters might focus more on long-term care planning, transition to adult services, and guardianship issues, alongside their ongoing medical and educational needs.

Q8: What challenges do parents of children with special needs face in custody battles?

A8: Parents of children with special needs may face challenges in demonstrating their ability to meet the child’s special requirements, disputes over medical decisions, and managing the financial burden of care.

Q9: In custody decisions, how are a child’s educational needs considered?

A9: The child’s educational needs are a crucial factor in custody decisions. This includes the choice of school, special education services, and any necessary accommodations or therapies.

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

How a Legal Paraprofessional Can Help

Legal Paraprofessionals like Stephanie Villalobos at De Novo Law offer a new dimension of legal assistance, especially in family law matters involving custody and support for special needs children.

Licensed by the Arizona Supreme Court, they can provide legal services and court representation, making them a cost-effective alternative to traditional attorneys. Their expertise is particularly valuable in complex family law cases, where they can offer guidance and support throughout the process.

For those interested in exploring this option, De Novo Law offers a free one-on-one consultation.

You can contact them at (480) 725-2200 or visit their contact page to schedule a consultation and discuss your family law needs. This consultation provides an excellent opportunity to understand how a Legal Paraprofessional can assist you, especially in cases involving special needs children.

Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

DISCLAIMER: The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  De Novo Law, LLC and its Legal Paraprofessionals are not attorneys and are not authorized to provide legal advice or representation beyond the areas and scope of practice for which license is held.  The transmission or receipt of any electronic correspondence or information does not create a legal paraprofessional-client relationship.


Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.

De Novo Law Blog

International Travel and Child Custody over the Holidays

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International Travel- How a Paraprofessional Can Help

As the holiday season approaches, many families begin to plan for travel, but for divorced parents sharing custody, this time can bring additional considerations. At De Novo Law, we understand the complexities that arise when coordinating international travel with shared custody agreements.

 This article aims to shed light on the important implications and legal requirements that parents need to be aware of when planning international travel with their children during the holidays. From ensuring compliance with custody agreements to understanding the necessity of mutual consent and the legalities under Arizona law. Our goal is to help families enjoy their holiday travels while maintaining legal compliance and upholding the best interests of their children

We will cover the following topics:

Understanding Arizona’s Legal Framework for International Travel with Children

Understanding Arizona’s legal framework for international travel with children requires consideration of various custody arrangements, including sole custody, joint custody, and situations where parents have specific visitation rights. Here’s how the law applies in these different scenarios:

  1. Joint Custody: In joint custody situations, Arizona law, specifically ARS 25-408, necessitates at least forty-five days’ advance written notice before one parent can relocate the child outside the state or more than one hundred miles within the state. This requirement ensures that both parents have adequate time to discuss and potentially contest the relocation, with the child’s best interests as the central focus​​. 
  2. Sole Custody: For a parent with sole custody, the legal process may be less complicated, but the non-custodial parent still has rights that must be respected. Even in sole custody scenarios, the custodial parent is often required to provide notice to the non-custodial parent, especially if the non-custodial parent has visitation rights and the travel might interfere with these rights. The court will consider the child’s best interests and may require additional legal steps if the non-custodial parent objects to the travel plans​​.
  3. Non-Custodial Parent’s Rights: Non-custodial parents have the right to be informed of and consent to international travel, especially if it affects their visitation schedule. The custodial parent must provide details about the travel and obtain consent from the non-custodial parent, particularly for extended trips or those involving significant distances.
  4. Case Law Precedent: The case of Lehn v. Al-Thanayyan provides a pertinent example where the court had to balance the rights of both parents in an international context. The decision to require a substantial cash bond as a deterrent to potential child abduction in a non-Hague Convention country illustrates how Arizona courts approach these sensitive issues, prioritizing the child’s welfare and safety​​.
  5. Compliance with Court Orders and Agreements: Whether in joint or sole custody situations, any existing custody agreements or court orders must be respected. These may contain specific clauses about international travel. The court generally upholds these agreements unless there’s a compelling reason to alter them, always with the child’s best interests in mind​​.
  6. Best Interests of the Child: In all scenarios, the court’s primary consideration is the child’s best interests. Factors include the reasons for travel, the impact on the child’s stability and development, and the ability to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents​​.

International Treaties and Their Impact on International Travel

International treaties, particularly those concerning child protection, have a profound impact on international travel involving children in shared custody scenarios.

The most significant of these is the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This treaty provides a legal mechanism to ensure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in another country.

It seeks to protect children from international abduction by a parent or guardian and ensures that custody rights established in one member country are recognized and respected in others.

For parents in shared custody arrangements, this means that international travel with their children requires careful legal consideration.

They must ensure that their travel plans do not violate custody agreements or the legal rights of the other parent as established in their home country.

Failure to adhere to these stipulations can lead to serious legal consequences, including international legal disputes under the Hague Convention.

The Convention also mandates that both parents typically need to consent to a child’s international travel.

This safeguard is designed to prevent one parent from unilaterally removing the child to another country, which could be deemed as international child abduction under the treaty. 

Legal Considerations for Emergency Situations Abroad

In shared custody situations, being prepared for emergencies during international travel is essential. Key considerations include:

  • Documentation Preparation: Ensure all legal documents like passports and consent forms are in order, and understand the destination country’s legal framework for emergencies.
  • Health Emergencies: Know your medical decision-making rights for your child and familiarize yourself with the local healthcare system and laws.
  • Dealing with Travel Restrictions: Stay informed about potential travel restrictions or political instability that could affect your return plans. Maintain contact with your home country’s embassy or consulate.
  • International Child Abduction: Be aware of the legal procedures under the Hague Convention for addressing wrongful child retention abroad.
  • Communication with the Non-Traveling Parent: Keep the non-traveling parent informed during emergencies, facilitating collaborative decision-making for the child’s welfare.

Effective preparation and understanding of these legal aspects can help navigate unexpected situations while prioritizing the child’s safety and well-being.

Can My Ex-Spouse Deny International Travel 

Yes, your ex-spouse can deny international travel with your child, especially in shared custody situations, and there are several reasons why this might happen:

  1. Custody Agreement Stipulations: If your custody agreement or court order includes specific clauses regarding international travel, your ex-spouse has the right to enforce these clauses. For instance, the agreement might require mutual consent for international travel, and if your ex-spouse does not consent, you would be unable to legally take the child abroad. 
  2. Safety Concerns: Your ex-spouse might have legitimate concerns about the child’s safety, especially if the travel destination is considered unsafe or if there are health concerns like a pandemic.
  3. Interference with Parenting Time: If the proposed travel interferes with the other parent’s scheduled parenting time or major life events, they may object to the travel.
  4. Risk of Abduction: In cases where there’s a fear of international child abduction, particularly if one parent has strong ties to another country, the other parent may legally deny permission for travel.
  5. Lack of Communication or Agreement: If the traveling parent fails to provide adequate information or disregards the importance of mutual agreement and communication, the non-traveling parent might deny consent.

If your ex-spouse denies consent for international travel and you believe the decision is unreasonable or not in the best interest of the child, you have legal options.

You may seek mediation to reach an agreement or, as a last resort, go to court to have a judge decide. The court will consider the child’s best interests, the reasons for the travel, and the reasons for the denial before making a decision.

Best Practices for Planning International Travel with Children in Shared Custody

Effective communication and proper documentation are essential components when a parent plans international travel with a child, especially in shared custody situations.

Firstly, communication should be open, clear, and initiated well in advance of the planned travel.

This allows both parents ample time to discuss, negotiate, and address any concerns related to the trip. The traveling parent should provide the non-traveling parent with a detailed itinerary, including flight schedules, accommodation details, and contact information for the duration of the trip. This transparency builds trust and ensures that the non-traveling parent is informed and comfortable with the travel arrangements.

Regarding documentation, several key pieces are necessary.

The most important is a notarized letter of consent from the non-traveling parent.

This document should explicitly state their permission for the specific travel plans, including the destinations and duration of the trip. It’s a crucial piece of documentation that may be required by airlines, immigration authorities, or in case of any legal disputes.

Additionally, the traveling parent should ensure that all travel documents, such as passports and visas for the child, are current and in order. If the custody agreement or court orders have specific clauses regarding international travel, it’s advisable to carry copies of these documents as well.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities During International Travel

In the context of international travel with children during shared custody, it’s essential for parents to comprehend and adhere to their rights and responsibilities as stipulated by Arizona law.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities:

  • Consent and Communication: The non-traveling parent generally has a right to be informed and consent to the travel plans. The traveling parent must obtain this consent, ideally in writing, to avoid legal issues such as allegations of child abduction.
  • Custody Agreement Compliance: Travel arrangements should align with the existing custody agreement or court order, respecting the other parent’s rights.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Open communication lines, including sharing travel details and contact information, are vital. Parents should also have a plan for emergencies.

Key Considerations:

  • Documentation: Carrying a notarized letter of consent from the non-traveling parent and ensuring all travel documents are in order is crucial.
  • Legal Implications: Traveling without the required consent can lead to serious legal repercussions, including accusations under international treaties like the Hague Convention.
  • Legal Advice: Consulting a family law attorney before traveling can provide valuable guidance and help ensure all legal requirements are met.

Understanding and respecting these aspects ensures that international travel with children in shared custody situations is conducted legally and smoothly, focusing on the children’s best interests.

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

How a Legal ParaProfessional Can Help?

Legal Paraprofessionals (LPs) at De Novo Law, such as Stephanie Villalobos with her extensive 30-year experience in the legal field, provide vital services in family law matters.

They are authorized to offer legal advice, represent clients in court for divorce, legal separation, child custody, and support issues, and negotiate settlements. Their role bridges the gap between a paralegal and an attorney, focusing on affordability and accessibility.

De Novo Law encourages individuals facing family law challenges to utilize their services, offering free one-on-one consultations.

For assistance, you can contact De Novo Law at (480) 725-2200 to arrange a consultation with a qualified legal paraprofessional.


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DISCLAIMER: The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  De Novo Law, LLC and its Legal Paraprofessionals are not attorneys and are not authorized to provide legal advice or representation beyond the areas and scope of practice for which license is held.  The transmission or receipt of any electronic correspondence or information does not create a legal paraprofessional-client relationship.


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