Child Custody in Chandler Arizona

The parent awarded sole legal custody has final decision making authority on all major issues involving the health, education and welfare of the child.  The parent with sole custody is not necessarily required to consult with the other parent. When parents are awarded joint legal custody, they both participate in reaching major decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of their child.

What is the difference between custodial parent and non-custodial parent?

The person with whom the child spends most of the time is often called the “custodial” parent or the “primary” parent. The “non-custodial” parent has visitation rights according to a schedule known as a “parenting plan.” 

What is the typical visitation schedule for a non-custodial parent?

The Arizona courts use a set of guidelines to help determine what visitation schedule is best. Click here to see standard Arizona child visitation plans (this may take a while to download on slow internet connections). 

What factors will the Court consider when deciding the legal decision-making arrangements?

Generally, the court will look at all of the following when making a custody order: 
1. The relationship between the kid and the parent. 
2. The relationship of the kid with the parents, siblings and others who may significantly affect the child’s best interest. 
3. The child’s adjustment to home, school and community. 
4. The wishes of the child. 
5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved. 
6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent. 
7. Whether one parent intentionally misled the court to gain an improper advantage at trial.
8.  Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse.
9. Whether a parent was forced or pressured into a custody agreement. 
10 Whether a parent has taken the mandatory parent information class.
11.  Whether the parents have an agreement regarding decision-making authority, and if not, whether the failure to agree is unreasonable or is influenced by an  issue unrelated to the child’s best interest.
12.  Whether the decision-making arrangement is logistically possible.

Is it possible to modify court orders regarding children?

Yes. The Arizona court always has the authority to modify orders relating to decision-making and parenting time.  Before the court will consider changing these orders, however, the parent seeking the change must show that there has been a “substantial and continuing change of circumstances” that justifies the change. Typically, the court will find such a change of circumstance if one parent moves a considerable distance away, begins abusing drugs or alcohol, causes severe problems with visitation, and the like.

How old do children have to be before they can decide with which parent they want to live?

In Arizona, the child’s wishes may be considered regardless of the age.. Only the judge, however, may make the final decision on where they will live.  The wishes of older, more mature kids are likely to be taken into account by the court.

My kid lives in Arizona but I live in another state. Which state will enter parenting time orders in my case?

Generally, the state where they have lived for the last six months will have the ability to enter orders concerning custody. This rule may not apply if visitation orders regarding them have already been entered by a court in another state. This rule may also vary depending on where you live. Consult with an attorney if you are unsure of where your lawsuit should be heard.

The other parent has sole legal decision-making authority (custody). Do I still have the right to get information regarding education and health?

Yes. Arizona law states that, unless the court orders otherwise, parents are entitled to have equal access to documents and other information concerning education and health directly from the custodian of the records or from the other parent.

The other parent is not paying support. Do I still have to allow visitation?

Yes. Arizona law considers visitation and child support to be separate matters, so the primary parent must continue to allow the other parent to visit despite the other parent’s failure to pay support. The reasoning is this: These orders are based upon the financial needs and the ability of the parents to meet those needs. Visitation orders are intended to safeguard the best interests by ensuring that the child has a meaningful relationship with each parent. Because of this distinction, one parent’s failure to pay will not excuse the other parent’s failure to allow visitation.

Protect your rights!

We handle all family law cases in Chandler Arizona. If you or a loved one needs help please give me a call at 480-413-9300. I am here to serve you & make this process as stress free as possible.