Examining The Term ‘Best Interests of the Child’

Best Interests of the ChildIn Arizona, the court awards child custody in accordance with circumstances that comply with the “best interests of the child.” There are many factors that determine a child’s best interest, whether it has to do with family, community, and/or the physical and mental health of the child.

Some of the factors that the Arizona court will consider are:
– the custody wishes of the parents
– the wishes of the child as to their custodian
– the interaction and relationship of the child with the parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest
– the child’s adjustment to home, school and community
– the mental and physical health of all individuals involved and how this affects the child
– which parent is more likely to allow the child to have a meaningful and frequent relationship with the other parents
– if a parent has provided primary care of the child
– if either parent has used coercion or duress in order to obtain a custody agreement
– if either parent has been convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect
– if there has been any cases of domestic violence or child abuse

Joint Custody (Parenting Time)
Arizona judges cannot prefer one type of custody over another (joint vs. sole custody), but are obligated to make decisions based primarily on the best interests of the child. Even if one parent objects to it, the judge can grant joint custody if it is in the child’s best interest.

The factors for determining if joint custody is in the child’s best interest are:
– whether the parents have agreed to joint custody
– whether joint custody is logically feasible
– whether the parents will be likely to cooperate in decision making that comes with joint custody (visitation, child support, etc.)

Arizona courts are prohibited from awarding joint custody if there is a finding of significant domestic violence between the parties responsible for the guardianship of the child. After considering the safety and well being of the child, as well as the victim of domestic violence and the abusers history of causing domestic violence, the court will make a reputable presumption that awarding custody to the parent committing the domestic violence would not be in the best interest of the child. As a result, that parent must prove that an award of custody and parenting time will not endanger or harm the child, nor will it impair the child’s emotional development. If both parents have committed an act of domestic violence, this presumption will not exist.

Following Arizona law, there is no presumption in favor of joint vs. sole custody, and all decisions made are governed by the best interest of the child. If you are concerned that you may lose custody of your child, or wish to gain custody of a child to protect and care for them, contact a Phoenix child custody attorney at The Sampair Group today. Our experienced attorneys will evaluate the conditions of your case and represent individuals throughout the valley with locations in Phoenix, Glendale and Mesa.

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