How Does Arizona Determine Custody of a Child?
Arizona uses the term Legal Decision Making rather than "custody" in our statutes. Legal Decision Making involves who makes the decision for the child regarding the areas of medical, educational, and religious training.
Why doesn't Arizona use the term custody anymore?In January of 2013 our legislature amended all of our family law statutes to remove the term "custody" and insert the actual term that seemed to convey what custody meant - in this case who was going to make the legal decisions for the child.
Can a parent still be granted sole legal decision making?Under Arizona law the court looks at the best interests of the child and the factors under A.R.S. 25-403 when determining legal decision making and parenting time. Those factors include: A. The court shall determine legal decision-making and parenting time, either originally or on petition for modification, in accordance with the best interests of the child. The court shall consider all factors that are relevant to the child's physical and emotional well-being, including: 1. The past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child. 2. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child's parent or parents, the child's siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest. 3. The child's adjustment to home, school and community. 4. If the child is of suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child as to legal decision-making and parenting time. 5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved. 6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with the other parent. This paragraph does not apply if the court determines that a parent is acting in good faith to protect the child from witnessing an act of domestic violence or being a victim of domestic violence or child abuse. 7. Whether one parent intentionally misled the court to cause an unnecessary delay, to increase the cost of litigation or to persuade the court to give a legal decision-making or a parenting time preference to that parent. 8. Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse pursuant to section 25-403.03. 9. The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding legal decision-making or parenting time. 10. Whether a parent has complied with chapter 3, article 5 of this title. 11. Whether either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect under section 13-2907.02. B. In a contested legal decision-making or parenting time case, the court shall make specific findings on the record about all relevant factors and the reasons for which the decision is in the best interests of the child.
What is the difference between legal decision making and parenting time?Legal Decision Making is who makes the major decisions for the child: education, medical and religious. Parenting time is where the child is on a day to day basis, i.e. what parent is the child with on Monday, Tuesday, wednesday etc..