Legal Question in Family Law in Arizona

If I wasn't personally involved in this case, I never would believe it in a million years. I reside in Arizona. My son was given temporary legal custody of his son (my grandson) due to the mother's mental health issues and negligence of the child. The child was taken away from her twice by child protective services. The mother obtained an attorney... a well-known woman who was recently disbarred for fraud) and filed the actual legal custody hearing in family court. My son went to the first hearing pro per, as he felt that the mother's mental health history and history of five involuntary committments to a psych unit over the past two years would speak for itself. The judge ordered that temporarily, the mother could have supervised visitation and my son retained physical custody with final say. I loaned my son the money for a retainer and we picked an attorney out of the phone book. The two of us met with her for almost two hours and retained her based on the things she said she would and could do. My son was seeking full legal custody and child support. Despite the mothers mental illness, she maintains a full time job. We went to court expecting to be witnesses for my son and as we stood to be sworn in is when we found out we WERENT testifying. My son's attorney never submitted any witnesses for him! And it only got worse from there. I have never in my life seen such embarrassing behavior from an attorney. She presented none of the evidence we provided, called in none of the CPS or personal witnesses, and failed to provide the judge with any concrete information, short of handing him the mothers three inch thick mental health records and telling the judge "I suggest you better read all of this before you make your decisions". The judge was obviously very irritated by my son's attorney and frustrated. Two days later we learned through public record look up that my son practically lost everything. The mother got joint legal custody, three weekends a month unsupervised visitation, and alternating holidays. The judge declared she was mentally competent to parent the child (despite being released from an involuntary mental health lock up just 1.5 months prior to the hearing), but then stated he is not awarding my son child support due to her mental health issues! He even has to pay 1/2 the transportation for visitation 7 days a month and she is awarded to claim the child on taxes every other year! I am beside myself. My grandson has been neglected before and per her history of hospitalizations, she becomes psychotic and is hospitalized about every six months. We are at a loss. I really need some advice on what can be done. Can family court in Arizona be appealed? The judge did not have all the necessary information to make an informed decision and he obviously did not read the mothers medical file. Also, I know I can make a complaint to the state bar, which I will be doing, on our attorney, but we need to have that money returned before we can hire another attorney. In the meantime, my grandson could be in danger. We are really at a loss and would appreciate any help. Thanks again... concerned Grandma

Asked on 6/14/12, 7:16 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Carlie Owsley Walker The Owsley Law Firm, PLLC

I am very sorry to hear of this result. There are a few options to request the Court reconsider their ruling, however most are time sensitive. Remember the ruling may be modified upon a showing of substantial change in circumstances. The assigned judge may have also had an impact on this ruling. We can further discuss your options in a free 30 minute consultation at The Owsley Law Firm, 623-748-8973.

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Answered on 8/24/12, 7:22 pm

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