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Every loving parent wants to put the best interests of their child first. Thankfully, Arizona courts agree. According to Arizona law, courts are required to put your child’s best interests above all else. Moreover, in Arizona, child custody rights are more accurately referred to as legal decision-making rights.

Arizona’s Legal Decision-Making

On January 1, 2013, a new law took effect that did away with language related to custody. Physical custody was replaced with parenting time, whereas legal custody was changed to legal decision-making.

Legal decision-making, as the term implies, is the right to make major, non-emergency decisions about the child’s life and welfare, which includes the following:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Religion
  • Personal Care

When it comes to education, the most common decision-making issue is where the child goes to school. Similarly, healthcare decisions can relate to whether your child gets surgery or receives a flu shot. Religious decisions can involve whether you raise your child to observe certain religious beliefs or practices. Personal care, however, is not yet well-defined in Arizona law, and likely covers issues such as hair care, piercings and the like.

In effect, Arizona legal decision-making is primarily concerned with outlining the “big picture” decisions that a parent is legally entitled to make. Smaller decisions like what a child should eat for breakfast or how many hours of games they can play every day are not typically included as part of legal decision-making rights.

Sole vs. Joint Legal Decision-Making

Arizona allows for sole legal decision-making as well as joint legal decision-making. Sole legal decision-making means that one parent is responsible for making these significant, non-emergency decisions for the child.

Alternatively, joint legal decision-making, means that both parents will coordinate with one another to make these important decisions. Do note, this is completely separate from parenting, which legally refers to the parent’s right to spend physical time with their child.

Contact us today at Hallier Stearns PLC if you have any questions or concerns about your legal decision-making rights as a parent in Arizona.