You worked hard since you were a young adult. Now you have gotten married, had children bought a home and are in the season of life where you are advancing your career while raising your family. Still, problems will always arise especially in your marriage. Sometimes these problems cannot be overcome, and you decide to divorce. If so, you may be very concerned about the well-being of your children and the time you will get to have them in your care moving forward. The following is a brief overview of child custody in Arizona.
Types of child custody
Arizona recognizes two types of child custody: legal custody, referred to as “legal decision-making” and physical custody, referred to as “parenting time.” Legal decision-making gives a parent the right to make nonemergency decisions regarding key aspects of the child’s life, such as where the child will go to school, what doctors the child will see and what religion the child will participate in. Legal decision making can be joint, meaning parents share this right or sole meaning only one parent has this right.
Parenting time includes the periods where a parent has the child in their care at specific times. When a parent is exercising parenting time, they must care for the child’s daily needs and can make routine decisions regarding the care of the child.
Child custody factors
When decisions are made regarding legal decision-making and parenting time, the goal is to make choices that are in the best interests of the child. The court will consider a variety of factors when determining the best interests of the child including:
- The relationship between the child and each parent, past, present and anticipated future
- The child’s relationship with siblings
- The child’s adjustment to their home, school and community
- The child’s wishes, if the child is mature enough
- The parents’ and child’s health
- Whether a parent is willing to respect the child’s time with their ex, absent issues of domestic violence
- Whether one parent tried to influence child custody decisions by misleading the court or causing unnecessary delays
- Whether domestic violence is an issue
- Whether one parent is being coerced or is under duress to make specific child custody decisions, and
- Whether a parent was convicted of falsely reporting abuse or neglect
Ultimately, it is up to the court to determine the best interests of the child utilizing these factors. As long as the child’s interests are prioritized over other interests, child custody decisions can be made that support the needs of both the child and the parents in a divorce.