As of January 1, 2013, a new Arizona law went into effect that would allow mothers and fathers to have equal custody of their child or children. Before the law was passed, the mother would get a majority of custody time, in most custody cases. This new law provides an opportunity for equal, joint custody between each parent. The law also changed the term ‘custody’ to ‘parenting time’ and encourages joint parenting time so the child can benefit from equal time with each parent. Despite the new law, there are still steps that parents must take in order to get joint custody of a child.
Before a parent petitions for joint custody, they should have an understanding of the different kinds of legal custody types that there are in Arizona. At The Sampair Group, we are dedicated to helping our clients understand the different types of custody and which resolution is best for your case.
Physical custody, now called ‘parenting time,’ means that a parent has the right to have the child live with them. There is also legal-decision making authority, which means that a parent has the right to make decisions regarding a child’s health and education as well as literal physical decisions such as haircuts and ear piercing.
One of the first things that a parent needs to do to begin this process is file a Petition to Establish Custody. Once this petition is established, the court will go through a checklist that determines what factors should be considered in the best interest of the child. These factors include:
– the wishes of the child
– the child’s relationship with each parent
– the adjustments that the child will need or will not need to make regarding school, home, and community
– the mental and physical health of the child, parents, and all other individuals directly involved
– any concerns about domestic violence or child abuse
– a parent’s completion of programs/classes if required by Arizona law
– agreement (or lack of agreement) between parents regarding joint custody, and the issue that the disagreement is based around
– each parent’s ability to communicate with each other around the child effectively
All of these factors and more are considered when the petition is brought to a judge. If the parents can provide the court with a written parenting plan and the judge believes the order is in the best interest of the child, the parents will be issued an award of join custody. This plan will include the rights and responsibilities of the child that each parent has agreed on including education, health care, residence and how disputes or compromise will be handled. Often, if the court feels necessary, mediation will be required. Mediation usually involves a trained professional that will help the parents work together to reach a compromise in a healthy manner that benefits the child. In Arizona, mediation is not required unless assigned by the court.
If a parent begins to feel unsatisfied with the court agreement, they can request that the court modify the orders originally given. These requests can be submitted and changes can be made to the custody agreement until the child turns 18 years old.
If you have found yourself a part of a family law dispute and need legal representation, contact Glendale Family Law attorneys at The Sampair Group. We have experienced child custody attorneys that will represent you in the best interest of your children.