Child custody is one of the most sensitive and challenging aspects of family law. Child custody refers to the legal authority to make decisions about a child’s upbringing and where the child will reside. In Arizona, child custody is referred to as legal decision-making and parenting time. Legal decision-making refers to the authority to make important decisions about a child’s life, such as education, healthcare, and religion. Parenting time refers to the time each parent spends with the child.

If you are facing a child custody dispute, it is crucial to have an experienced family law attorney on your side. Contact The Peterson Law Firm today to schedule a consultation. We are here to provide the support and guidance you need to navigate this difficult time.

How is child custody determined in Arizona?

Child custody is determined based on what is in the best interests of the child. The court will consider several factors when making this determination, including:

  • The wishes of the child, if they are of a suitable age and maturity level
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs
  • Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse by either parent

What are the different forms of custody?

Custody often refers to legal custody or physical custody. Legal custody refers to decision-making regarding the minor children regarding major issues such as educational, medical or religious choices. In Arizona, the Court will typically enter an order of joint legal decision-making unless there is a fitness issue or inability of the parents to agree on issues. In the event of a fitness issue or disagreements, then the Court may enter an order for sole legal decision-making, joint legal decision-making with one parent retaining “final say” or presumptive say in joint legal decision-making. 

Physical custody is referred to as parenting time. The statute requires the Court to maximize time between both parents subject to the minor children’s best interests.  

What is parenting time, and does custody determine parenting time?

Parenting time refers to the time each parent spends with the child. While legal decision-making and parenting time are related, they are not the same. Legal decision-making determines who has the authority to make major decisions about the child’s life, while parenting time determines when each parent spends time with the child.

Will the court consider a child’s preference?

In Arizona, the court may consider a child’s preference if the child is of a suitable age and maturity level. However, the court will always prioritize the child’s best interests over their preferences.

What is a parenting plan, and do I need one?

An Arizona parenting plan is a written agreement between the parents that outlines the details of legal decision-making and parenting time. Custody laws in Arizona require a parenting plan in all child custody cases. A parenting plan should include details such as where the child will reside, how major decisions will be made, and a schedule for parenting time.

Is sole legal custody possible in Arizona?

Yes, it is possible to obtain sole legal decision-making in Arizona. However, the court will only grant sole legal decision-making if it is in the best interests of the child. The parent requesting sole legal decision-making must show that the other parent is not capable of making major decisions about the child’s life.

Can a father get child custody in Arizona?

Yes, fathers have the same legal rights as mothers in Arizona. According to Arizona custody laws, child custody is determined based on what is in the best interests of the child, regardless of the gender of the parents.

What can a family law attorney do?

In a custody case, a family law attorney can help you navigate the legal system and advocate for your rights as a parent. They can assist you in filing the necessary paperwork, gathering evidence, and presenting a strong case in court. They can also provide guidance on negotiating a parenting plan and reaching an agreement with the other party. 

Additionally, a family law attorney can help you understand the legal standards for determining custody, such as the child’s best interests, and work to ensure that those standards are applied fairly in your case. Ultimately, having a skilled family law attorney on your side can be crucial in protecting your relationship with your child and achieving a positive outcome in your custody case.At The Peterson Law Firm, we understand that child custody cases can be emotionally challenging and stressful. We are here to help you navigate this difficult time and ensure that your rights and the best interests of your child are protected. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney.


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Our office will remain open during regular business hours. However, we are implementing some additional precautions to limit social interactions and personal proximity. Specifically, we will seek to conduct consultations, meetings, conferences through video teleconferencing or on the phone whenever possible. Should an in-person appointment be needed, then we will coordinate those on an appointment basis.

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