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Child custody basics in Arizona

Parents getting divorced in Arizona may be wondering how the divorce will impact their relationship with their children. Deciding child custody arrangements can be very difficult for many parents, especially when parents cannot agree on custody decisions. 

Child custody arrangements can be complex. There are many different types of child custody arrangements that parents should be aware of before agreeing to a certain arrangement or going to court. Parents should know the difference between custodial and non-custodial parents. Children often live with the custodial parent, who has the legal rights to make decisions for the child. Non-custodial parents do not have legal custody of the kids. 

In addition to knowing the difference between custodial and non-custodial parents, parents should be aware of the different types of custody under Arizona law. Listed below are the different types of custody:

  • Sole legal custody: one parent makes all major decisions for the child's care
  • Joint legal custody: both parents are responsible for making major decisions like education, health care and religious upbringing
  • Sole physical custody: the child lives with one parent
  • Joint physical custody: the child's living arrangements are shared between both parents

It is important to note that a court can order joint legal custody even when one parent has sole physical custody. This could mean that the child would live with one parent but both parents are still responsible for making major decisions for their child. 

When the court grants custody, they take the child's best interests into consideration before determining which parent will get custody of the child or if joint custody will work best for the family. 

Parents getting divorced should understand the different types of custody in Arizona so they know how child custody decisions are made and how their children may be affected after the divorce. 

Source: AZ Law Help, "Things You Should Know About Custody and Parenting Time," Accessed May 20, 2014

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