How is Custody Determined in Arizona?

divorceWhen you are facing a divorce or custody case, you may wonder how the court makes a decision as important as custody and parenting time. Child custody, which in Arizona is now known as legal decision-making and parenting time, are determined based on the best interests of the child. Because custody is such a significant decision, the courts must weigh many important factors before coming to a decision. Courts must consider the following:

  • The relationships the child has had with each parent in the past, what the relationships are currently, and what those relationships could potentially be in the future.
  • The interaction the child has with the parents, the child’s siblings, as well as anyone else who could have an important impact on what is best for the child. This could include a grandparent or half-sibling the child is extremely close with, for example.
  • The way in which the child is adjusted to his or her home, school, and community. A child who is having problems might benefit from a change, while a child who is doing extremely well might experience negative effects from big changes to living arrangements.
  • The physical and mental health of the parents and child. The court will consider things such as special needs the child might have or limitations that parents experience based on mental health issues.
  • The child’s opinion about legal decision-making and parenting time. This is considered by the court if the child is old enough and mature enough. Generally, teen’s opinions are given some weight in the decision.
  • Which parent is most likely to support and allow ongoing, frequent, and meaningful contact with the other parent. Parents who recognize that a child needs two parents in his or her life have the child’s best interest at heart. However, a parent who keeps the child away from the other parent due to domestic violence or child abuse is not held to this standard.
  • Whether one of the parents created unneeded delays in the court proceedings or purposely misled the court in order to make the case more expensive for the other parent or to try to obtain custody.
  • Domestic violence or child abuse within the family. Because this can have such a detrimental impact on a child, the court must explore it as an issue.
  • Whether one of the parents used duress or coercion to get the other parent to consent to a custody agreement.
  • If the parents have completed parent education classes as ordered by the court.
  • The conviction of a parent for falsely reporting child abuse or neglect.

When you are facing a divorce or custody case in Phoenix, Mesa or Glendale, make an appointment with the skilled attorneys at the Sampair Group. Call us today.