family law Child Custody

There are a lot of questions that arise regarding what happens with the children following a divorce. Who will the children live with primarily after the divorce? Will you share parenting time with your ex? What if you think it is better to limit parenting time for the other party? If your kids end up living with your ex, how often will you get to see them? Who will have legal custody, or the legal right to make major decisions in a child’s life regarding education, health, religion, etc.? Will you and your ex share legal decision making, or will one of you petition the court for sole legal decision making?

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As you can tell, divorce gets even more complicated when you have to contemplate what is best for the children.

In emotionally charged divorce proceedings where children are involved, it is crucial that parents set personal feelings aside at the very least when considering the best interests of the children. It is especially helpful to know you can count on the knowledge and advice of an experienced attorney to help you attain a fair child custody agreement. The Peterson Law Firm is prepared to fight for you and your parenting rights. We can help you understand the big picture as we focus on what is best for you and your children.

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Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time

The Arizona legislature recently changed the terms associated with custody laws. Child custody and legal custody have been replaced with “legal decision making” while visitation has been replaced by “parenting time.” Legal decision making refers to the ability to make important decisions in a child’s life and parenting time refers to the actual time a parent is physically with the child.

The goal of changing these terms was to eliminate any sense of inequality between the parents, or any idea that one parent should have more control over decisions regarding the children. In Arizona, there is a strong presumption to grant equal decision making and parenting time to the parents, unless there is a strong enough argument by one of the parties to overcome the policy of allowing both parents to remain equally involved in a child’s life.

Legal Decision Making

As mentioned above, legal decision making applies to major decisions in a child’s life, including: education, health, religion, and personal care. A court assumes that parents will work together to raise their children, despite the divorce. Minor day-to-day decisions that arise during your parenting time do not typically fall under the umbrella of joint legal decision making.

If you feel it is in the child’s best interests for the court to grant you sole legal decision making, you must petition the court and present your reasoning for why this is the best option. A court will consider this option if, for example, there is evidence of alcohol or drug abuse by one of the parents, or if there are signs of domestic violence and/or child abuse.

Perhaps your situation is straightforward and seemingly east to handle, where both parties to the divorce are committed to working together harmoniously to raise children; or maybe the scenario is more difficult, and you are not sure about the best way to proceed to get a fair parenting plan that is in the best interests of your child. Either way, contact The Peterson Law Firm where you can be sure that you will find a compassionate attorney who will aggressively fight for your rights.

Parenting Time

After the divorce, both parents are legally entitled to reasonable parenting time so that neither parent is granted a greater benefit than the other. But as mentioned before, the main consideration is what is in the best interests of the children.

Unless there is evidence that parenting time with one of the parents would threaten a child’s physical, mental, emotional, or moral health and well-being, a court will typically refrain from limiting equal parenting time.

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