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When parents decide to separate, one of the primary legal considerations involves the custody of their children. Although there are many possible options for child custody, the court will always put the needs of the kids at the forefront of its decision. It is important to note that Arizona no longer uses the term “Custody”.

Here is how child related agreements are determined in the state of Arizona:

Sole vs. Joint Legal Decision Making

There are two separate types of parenting arrangements to discuss. The first is to decide whether joint or sole legal decision making authority for the child (or children) is most appropriate.

Sole legal decision making refers to an arrangement whereby one parent has the sole right to make major life decisions for the child. With joint legal decision making, neither parent’s decision-making rights are superior. Parents agree to cooperate in making major decisions on behalf of the child, and commit to discuss such decisions in the areas of education, religion, medical treatment, and personal care.

In Arizona, the most common legal custody arrangement is joint legal custody (and seemingly most preferred by the courts), although no presumption exists favoring one arrangement over the other. Commonly cited studies reflect that children benefit most when their separated parents cooperate in their upbringing.

Parenting Time

In addition to legal decision making, a schedule of parenting time (formerly referred to as visitation or access) with each parent must be established. Special schedules for holidays and vacation time should also be agreed. Parenting time schedule considerations should include the parents’ work schedules, the schedules and ages of the children, and the proximity of the parents’ homes. The overriding concern and legal standard in all custody related issues is the best interests of the child. In most cases, this means frequent and meaningful contact with both parents. In rare cases, minimal or supervised contact may be best if a parent is unable to have a safe and healthy relationship with their child.

Naturally, decisions regarding child decision making and parenting time are not always easily made. As a concerned parent, you will want to have your wishes expressed in a clear and appropriate manner.

Contact us at Hallier Stearns PLC to learn more about the best options for you and the well-being of your children.