Absent Parents Rights in Arizona

Absent Parents Rights in ArizonaThere are unfortunately many family situations where at least one parent has taken off from the child’s life. The child is left to the care of the remaining custodial parent or other family members, and grows up without the presence and guidance of the parent who left. Yet in some of these cases, the absent parent hopes to retain their parental rights. This raises the question: Can a mom or dad keep their parental rights even if they’ve been gone for a long time?

In Arizona, the answer may be yes, but with significant legal implications. Here’s an overview of an absent parent’s rights in AZ, and what the remaining parent can do.

What are the rights of an absent parent in Arizona?

As long as they have legal parentage, the rights of an absent parent in Arizona are generally the same as that of a present parent. For instance, they have the right to spend time with the child, determine the child’s schooling, decide on the child’s healthcare, raise the child with a particular religious upbringing, and make other decisions for the child.

The only time an absent parent loses these parental rights is if the court has terminated them. The remaining custodial parent (or other custodial family member) may request the court to terminate the absent parent’s parental rights.

How long does the father have to be absent to lose rights in Arizona?

A mother or father will have to be absent at least six months to lose their parental rights in Arizona. Being absent for six months or more constitutes child abandonment under AZ law, and this is grounds for the termination of parental rights. In other words, if the mom or dad has been gone for six months, the other parent may petition the court to end the absent parent’s rights.

Does it count as abandonment if the absent parent called once or twice? This may be up to the judge. Arizona Revised Statutes Section 8-531(1) states, “Abandonment includes a judicial finding that a parent has made only minimal efforts to support and communicate with the child.” Abandonment is also “the failure of a parent to provide reasonable support and to maintain regular contact with the child.”

Can a Father Get Custody Rights in Arizona After Being Out of The Child’s Life For a Long Period Of Time?

The short answer is yes, a father may still get custody rights in Arizona despite being out of the child’s life for a long time. As mentioned above, unless parental rights have been severed, an absent parent still has the same rights as the present parent. These rights include the right to fight for child custody.

However, even though the absent parent can fight for custody, it will be difficult for them to convince the court that they will be a good custodial parent for the child. The court takes into account factors such as which parent has been the primary caregiver of the child, and how present each parent has been in the child’s life.

Despite this, the judge may still give a chance for both parents to share custody. Courts often find that it is in the child’s best interests to grow up with two parents. If the judge grants joint custody with a parent who’s been absent for a long time, the present parent may request a transition or reunification process such as family reunification therapy or counseling.

If reunification is appropriate, the court will likely implement it in a gradual process that takes months or even years. In many cases, the court will monitor the involvement of the absent parent to ensure they remain sincere in their desire to stay in the child’s life.

Call a Parent’s Rights Lawyer in Arizona 

Whether you’re a parent who’s been raising your child on your own, or you’re a mom or dad who wants to reunite with your child, make sure you take the proper legal steps to secure your rights. In Arizona, consult with one of the top-rated Family Law attorneys at Goldman Law. We have helped numerous parents protect their rights and entitlements, even in complicated family situations. Call us at (602) 698-5520 for a consultation.