Child custody is one of the foremost concerns for families that are going through a divorce. With this overview of Arizona’s child custody laws, parents can be more prepared for the legal custody determination process.
Legal Vs. Physical Custody
When parents are unable to agree on custody terms, the Arizona courts will decide both physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the child’s primary residence. Legal custody describes the right of each parent to participate in significant decisions on the child’s behalf, such as choosing a doctor or a school. Both physical and legal custody can be shared or awarded solely to one parent. However, even when one parent has sole custody, the other parent retains visitation rights if they don’t have a history of neglect or abuse. Also, unless a court order has been filed that says otherwise, a lack of physical or legal custody does not remove a parent’s right to access their child’s medical or school records.
Factors in Determining Custody
Some Arizona courts require parents who dispute custody matters to attend mediation. If this does not result in an agreement, the judge will decide on behalf of the family. This decision is made based on the arrangement that is in the child’s best interest, with consideration of:
- The wishes of each parent
- The wishes of the child
- The willingness of each parent to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent
- The child’s familiarity with their current home, school, family, and community
- The physical and mental health of the child and both parents
- The child’s current relationship with his or her parents and siblings
- Any history of substance use, domestic violence, or other conduct that could negatively impact the child’s emotional, physical, or mental health
Relocation and Custody
When one parent has physical custody, he or she must inform the other parent at least 60 days in advance before moving to a different state or anywhere that’s more than 100 miles away from the other parent within Arizona. The non-custodial parent can then contest this move based on the negative impact it may have on his or her ability to maintain consistent contact with the child. Parents who need a compassionate child custody attorney should consult Pintel Law Firm PLLC. We strive to help every family find an arrangement that suits their needs. To schedule a free consultation about child custody, call (480) 386-5062 or reach out online. Se habla español.