In the midst of a divorce, one of the most significant considerations is child custody. But what happens when a parent has been absent from their child’s life for an extended period? Can they still seek custody?
In Arizona, the court’s primary focus in child custody cases is the child’s best interests. This means considering various factors such as:
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The parents’ physical and emotional well-being
- The parents’ overall stability
When a parent has been absent from their child’s life for a prolonged period, it can significantly affect the court’s decision on custody. However, it does not necessarily mean they will automatically bar the absent parent from seeking custody.
Assessing the reason for the absence
The court will assess the reason for the parents’ absence. Was it due to circumstances beyond their control, such as military deployment or illness? Or was it a voluntary choice to distance themselves from their child’s life?
The court will delve further into the parent-child relationship if the absence was voluntary. They may determine the impact of the absence on the child. They may evaluate factors such as the child’s emotional well-being, stability and attachment to the custodial parent.
The court may also consider the efforts made by the absent parent to reconnect with the child. Did they demonstrate a genuine desire to establish a meaningful relationship? Did they attempt to maintain regular contact? Did they support or participate in the child’s upbringing, despite the physical absence?
If it is determined that granting custody to the absent parent will promote the child’s well-being and create a positive and stable environment, custody may be awarded. However, the court may also impose certain conditions. They may also set up a gradual reintegration plan to ensure the child’s adjustment and minimize potential disruption.
It is important to note that custody decisions are highly individualized. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The court carefully evaluates the specific circumstances and evidence presented in each case before making a determination.
Seeking legal help
If you are a parent seeking custody after a prolonged absence from your child’s life, it is crucial to consult with a family law attorney. They can guide you through the legal process, help present your case effectively and advocate for parental rights.