Child Custody

Family Law Attorney Representing People in the Phoenix Area

Child Custody

Legal decision making authority (formerly referred to as “legal custody”) matters involve some of the most emotional and stressful issues that a parent can face. This process can become even more difficult if you are unfamiliar with Arizona’s specific laws and procedural requirements. Whether you are seeking a divorce and concerned about the decision making arrangement the court will order, or you hope to obtain increased parenting time (formerly referred to as “visitation”), Phoenix child custody lawyer Paula J. Burnstein is prepared to help you understand your legal rights. Our staff has assisted many parents and families throughout Maricopa, Pinal and Yavapai Counties, and we will make sure your voice is heard.

Parenting Laws in Arizona

Laws regarding children’s issues vary from state to state, but many jurisdictions have adopted the Uniform Child Custody and Enforcement Act at least in part. Arizona is one of these states. Some of the key features of this statute allow parents, guardians, and grandparents certain legal rights in a proceeding regarding the care and control of children. Arizona recognizes two specific types of “custody.” One type is known as legal decision making authority (legal custody), which consists of the right to make important decisions about the child’s life, such as educational, medical and religious teachings. The other type of custody is parenting time (physical custody), which specifies how much time the child will spend with each parent, including overnight parenting time.

Arizona courts can award any combination of physical or legal custody, or both, to a child’s parent. If the court sets a joint legal decision making authority arrangement, for example, both parents will have the authority to make key legal decisions about the child’s education, medical and religious upbringing. As example, if one parent is awarded the primary residential parent (sole physical custody), the child will reside with that parent on a full-time basis, but the other parent may be allowed parenting time rights. A child custody attorney can advise Phoenix residents on what they likely can expect in a specific situation and help advocate for the arrangement they would prefer. If a modification proves to be necessary in the future, moreover, Paula J. Burnstein can help you go back to court in pursuit of the change you need.

Adopting a Parenting Plan

Arizona family courts have created a process that allows parents to devise a parenting plan covering the key aspects of raising their children. There are four main factors that a parenting plan takes into consideration, and the parents must agree about how these factors will be approached for the parenting plan to be approved.

First, the parents must take into consideration the child’s needs as the child grows and reaches increasing levels of maturity. Next, the parents must agree that they will share equal access to all of the child’s official documents, such as medical records and school records. Third, the parents must find that continuing a relationship between the child and both parents is in the child’s best interests. Finally, in a parenting plan, the parents can determine the amount of parenting time each parent will have and who will have the final decision making authority regarding important decisions affecting the child. Parenting plans also include arrangements regarding holidays, birthdays, transportation, and any other ancillary considerations.

Discuss Your Legal Options Regarding Parenting Issues with an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in Phoenix

Disputes regarding children can be challenging for the parties, especially if the parents disagree about key aspects of the parenting arrangement or if matters of international or interstate custody are involved. Although it may be tempting to navigate Arizona’s legal system on your own, there are many substantive and procedural rules that are important to understand to protect your child’s interests. As a zealous family lawyer, Paula J. Burnstein is ready to provide you with the personalized advocacy that you deserve. She has counseled parents in cities such as Peoria, Paradise Valley, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa, Scottsdale, Surprise, Tempe, Laveen, Litchfield Park, New River, Sun City, Sun City West, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Safford, and Florence. To schedule a free consultation with a Phoenix child custody attorney, please email us at

Paula J. Burnstein

About Arizona Family Law Attorney Paula J. Burnstein

Paula J. Burnstein is experienced in family law matters including divorce, custody, child support, and property division. She has practiced solely in the area of family law for the past two decades and has the knowledge to serve your needs, both outside of and in the courtroom. She will help you work through your family law situation while protecting your interests and those of your family.

Contact us to schedule your free 15-minute phone consultation.

Client Reviews

"Paula Burnstein is an amazing Attorney for Family Law! My case is part of my messy story. I had a daughter with a mentally ill man, that believed he was Jesus. I lived on a compound and was able to escape with her. After 8 years he came back after me to get her. Paula fought the whole brutal way...


"It is very difficult to maintain compassion and empathy while delivering tangible results for your client in a process that is, by its very design, oppositional, yet Paula Burnstein is the consummate professional who manages to strike just the right balance in such a trying time. She delivered an...


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