The decisions made by a family law judge about where a child should live and how much time should be spent with his or her by each parent can have a tremendous and far-reaching impact on the child’s development and future. As a parent, you may have strong ideas about how your child should be raised and with whom your child should live and spend time. Custody battles can turn acrimonious, even when couples are able to agree about other matters. In Arizona, courts award child custody based on a child’s best interests. If you are concerned about arrangements for your child during a divorce, you should discuss your situation with Angela Duhon, an experienced Phoenix child custody attorney.Child Custody
Generally, child custody has two parts: legal custody and parenting time Legal custody is called legal decision making in Arizona; it can be joint or sole. With joint legal decision making, the parents must be capable of working together to make decisions about how the child should be raised. Joint legal decision-making requires both parents to work together collectively to make decisions regarding the childhood rearing of their children. With sole decision making, one parent makes decisions about how to raise a child without talking to the other parent. Issues such medical care, religious practices, education, and a child’s recreational activities may be determined according to legal custody.
Parenting time involves the creation of a schedule in which time is split between parents in a proportion based on a child’s best interests. When a court awards primary parenting time to one parent, it will award the noncustodial parent reasonable parenting time. However, if one parent is found to have perpetrated domestic violence against the child or the other parent, supervised parenting time may be required. Supervised visits will happen only when a third party approved by the court is present.Child Custody Lawyer for a Phoenix Child’s Best Interests
The court determines both legal decision-making and parenting time based on a child’s best interests. Unfortunately, parents may strongly disagree about what a child’s best interests are. This is not an issue that can be predetermined based on a prenuptial agreement. Under Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-403, our Phoenix lawyer handling child custody will need to make an argument to your judge using the following factors:
- Relationships each parent and child and interrelationships between parents and siblings, and anybody who could affect the child’s best interests.
- The child and parents’ mental and physical health.
- the past, present, and potential future relationship between each parent and the child.
- Child’s adjustment to home, community and school.
- Parent more likely to encourage a relationship between a child and the other parent.
- Either parent’s perpetration of child abuse or domestic violence.
- Either parent’s intentional misleading of the court to get an advantage in the divorce or other proceeding or false report regarding neglect or child abuse.
- The child’s wishes when a child is of an appropriate maturity and age.
When a determination about custody is reached, the court must issue a final order and set forth the factors that contributed to its decision. The best interests of the child will also be considered if either parent petitions to modify custody.Child’s Preference
A child’s custody preference will be stated when a child is old enough to develop an intelligent preference. There isn’t a particular age in the state when the court must consider a child’s preference, so the court will determine these issues case by case. In general, courts are willing to consider children’s preferences in late elementary school. The court will examine whether the child is reasoning based on a better relationship with one parent or abusive comments by either parent. However, the child’s preference needs to be intelligent, not based on which parent allows the child to eat ice or play with fancier toys.Retain a Phoenix Child Custody Lawyer
Sadly, child custody matters can be contentious. Parents do not always agree about their child’s best interests during a marriage, and disagreements may be magnified and exacerbated during divorce. If you are concerned about where your child will live and how important decisions will be made in his or her life following divorce or after paternity has been established, you should hire an experienced Phoenix child custody attorney. Call Ms. Duhon at (602) 699-4949 or via our online form.