Phoenix, AZ asked in Family Law and Child Custody for Arizona

Q: I need help with a father who is constantly taking away communication from a mother.

My wife shares custody with the child’s father. Father has continuously taken the child’s phone away while she is at his house during his parental time. Mother and I have bought the phone and pay the cell phone bill on a monthly basis. Father has never paid any portion or is even on same phone plan we’re on. Father takes phone away while she is in his care to limit communication between my wife and child and makes up reasons for doing so. However when child is our care father will not stop contacting child and interrupts our parenting with child. We do not retaliate and take her phone because we know her communication is important. My question is since she’s my stepdaughter can I purchase a phone give it to her and have any legal power to stop him from taking the phone and stopping communication with the child.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Stephen M Vincent
Stephen M Vincent
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: I am certainly sympathetic to what Mother and you are enduring because of Father's inappropriate actions.

However, what you suggest here is not the solution.

I know this may hurt to hear, and I apologize for that, but the law is clear: As a stepparent, you have no legal rights here. What happens with the child and her phone is the decision of the legal parents: Mother and Father. A step parent has no right to be involved in those decisions. You certainly do not have any legal power to control what Father does when the child is in his home regarding the phone. As long as Father is not destroying the phone, Mother also cannot control what happens with the phone when the child is in his care unless his prevention of communication violates a court order.

This is something that needs to be worked out with the parents. If they cannot do so on their own, this may require taking the issue to Court and having the Court issue a communication order.

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