If you are seeking child custody in Arizona, you will need to petition for it in court. Be prepared to cover some filing fees and other necessary expenses. Here is an overview of the Arizona child custody petition process and the costs associated with it.
Costs Of Filing A Child Custody Petition In AZ
To initiate a child custody case, you must fill out the petition forms from your county’s Clerk of the Superior Court. In Maricopa County, for instance, these forms are available as a packet to “Establish paternity, legal decision-making (legal custody), parenting time, and child support,” which you can download online or request in person at the court.
After completing these papers, you must file them with the court. There is a filing fee that may vary per county and can change from time to time. As of 2018 (latest schedule), the Maricopa County filing fee for a child custody petition is $279.
Service Of Papers
Once your child custody petition is filed you must deliver, or in legal parlance “serve,” the papers to the other parent as a way of notifying them of the case you have initiated. The service has to follow any of the methods prescribed by law. You may deliver the papers yourself, mail them, or have a Sheriff or a registered process server deliver them for you. Either way, it is important to get a written proof that the other parent has accepted the papers.
The cost of serving custody papers depends on which method you choose. Sending by certified mail might cost you about $10 to $15, while hiring a process server may cost anywhere from $75 to $100. If you choose service by Sheriff, there are also specific fees depending on the Sheriff’s Office.
Response To a Custody Petition
This step has to be accomplished by the other parent, the one who has been served the custody papers. They must respond to your child custody petition – otherwise, the case could conclude in your favor by default.
If you are the one who has to respond to a custody petition, fill out and file the appropriate forms at the court clerk’s office. As of 2018, the Maricopa County filing fee for answering a child custody petition is $204.
Parent Information Program Class
Arizona requires a parenting class for parents who are divorcing or involved in any domestic legal action. You can look up community-based Parent Information Program providers in your area. The fee for this class is $50 per parent.
Consent Decree, Mediation, Or Litigation
If you and the other parent agree on all the contents in your child custody petition, you can create a consent decree together and submit it to the court for approval.
Disputes, though, are very likely in a child custody case. If your petition has been disputed by the other party, you may try to iron out your disagreements through mediation. This is an out-of-court process where an independent third party called a mediator helps you and the other parent resolve disputes. Mediators charge either by the hour or a flat fee.
If child custody disagreements are not settled through mediation, the case will proceed to court litigation. Here, it can be crucial to have a family law attorney on your side, as courtroom litigation can be highly antagonistic. Family law attorneys usually charge a retainer (which is an upfront fee from which your billable hours are drawn) in the thousands of dollars.
To know your most effective and cost-efficient options to get child custody in Arizona, talk to us at Goldman Law. We are experienced lawyers who can guide you on the best steps for you to take in your child custody case. Call us today at (602) 698-5520.