August 24, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- As is so often the case, a divorce is acrimonious, and the acrimony does not necessarily end with the final decree. In a recent Arizona case, the custodial
parent filed to have the parental rights of the father severed on the grounds that he abandoned the child born of the marriage.
In Calvin B. v. Brittany B, a recent Arizona case on parental rights and abandonment, the ex-wife filed for an order of protection alleging that the child's father had used drugs and had made numerous phone calls to her threatening physical violence. The Justice Court granted the order over the father's objection. Despite the order of protection, for the next several months, the ex-wife continued to allow the father to see their son: the ex-wife, her current husband and the boy would meet the father for 15 to 20 minutes at a time at a fast-food restaurant.
Later, the ex-wife permitted the father to visit their son at her mother's home for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Subsequently, however, the ex-wife ended the visits. The father tried to contact the ex-wife's mother to seek visitation, but she did not relay the messages to the father, and eventually blocked the father's phone calls. On two occasions, the father sent texts to the ex-wife to ask to see the boy, but the ex-wife called the police both times, causing him to be twice arrested for violating the order of protection. Finally, the ex-wife filed a petition for contempt and to terminate the father's parental rights based on abandonment. Central to her petition: she alleged that the father had failed to have any meaningful contact with the child.
Abandonment in Arizona
"Abandonment" is defined by Arizona statute as the failure of a parent to provide reasonable support and to maintain regular contact with the child, including providing normal supervision. Abandonment includes a judicial finding that a parent has made only minimal efforts to support and communicate with the child.
The court noted that previous court decisions have established that abandonment was not measured by a parent's subjective intent, but by the parent's conduct and when circumstances prevented a father from exercising traditional methods of bonding with his child, he must act persistently to establish the relationship however possible and must vigorously assert his legal rights to the extent necessary. However, the court emphasized that a parent may not restrict the other parent from interacting with their child and then petition to terminate the latter's rights for abandonment. For that reason, the court concluded that the ex-wife had failed by clear and convincing evidence that the father abandoned his son.
Contact a family law attorney
Given the difficult emotional and far reaching ramifications of parental involvement in child custody determinations, the advice of an experienced Arizona family law attorney is extremely important to adequately evaluate the circumstances of each case.
Article provided by Thompson Law Firm, LLC
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