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Addressing disputes about custody and legal decision-making

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2023 | Child Custody

Arizona couples who are heading for a divorce may engage in dispute over a litany of issues. Many times, this focuses on finances. Who gets to keep a marital home, how a business is split, what happens to bank accounts, who will be responsible for debt the couple might have accumulated – all will be major concerns. However, the aspect of a divorce that can stoke the most emotion is what will happen to the children.

Parents undoubtedly want the best for their kids and that may lead to a back and forth as to who will have custody and what the parenting time protocol will be. Knowing about legal decision-making, parenting time, what types of custody options are available and how best to navigate the complexities of ensuring the agreement is followed and rancor is minimized is key to a positive resolution with all parties satisfied and the children protected.

The child’s best interests are paramount in any custody and parenting time case

The child’s best interests are fundamental to the court’s decision. The court will want to facilitate a relationship between both parents and the child, provided it is safe to do so. It also considers the relationship in the present and future between the parents and the child. It will factor in the child’s age and maturity level if they want to have their voices heard.

The mental and physical condition of everyone involved is part of the process. The court will want to ensure that the parent who has primary custody will encourage positive contact with the other parent. The parents’ behavior during the proceeding could be determinative. For example, if there were delays because a parent was untruthful, misleading or seemed to want to prolong the proceeding for no reason, that could sway the court toward the other parent.

Legal decision-making is also a common sticking point in family law. Parents can have sole legal custody; joint legal custody; joint physical custody; or primary physical custody. Each case is decided on its own merits and, as stated earlier, may hinge on how the court feels about the child’s best interests.

Under sole legal custody, one parent can make all the decision for the child. That includes every part of their life from medical care to education to what religion they are brought up to follow. The other parent’s input will not be necessary. Joint legal custody gives both parents the right to make decisions on behalf of the child.

When there is joint physical custody, the parents will have equal parenting time. For example, one parent could have the child live with them as a main residence and go to school in their district, but the other parent will have the child for weekends, extended time during school breaks and over holidays. Parents on good terms can work out a schedule on their own. If that is impossible, the court will do it for them. Primary physical custody means the child will live with one parent the bulk of the time. The other parent still has parenting time, but it can vary as to when it will be.

Compassionate help may make a major difference in a family law case

Divorce is so common that it can be hard to know whom to trust when seeking legal guidance. People who are moving forward with a case and are thinking about how to settle a custody dispute should have compassionate, caring and responsive guidance throughout the process. In today’s inordinately busy world, there is a lack of personal attention provided. It can make a significant difference in easing people’s minds as they try to forge an acceptable outcome in their case.

Regardless of the parents’ and children’s age, it is generally important that both be involved in the kids’ lives. To reduce the anxiety and stress that accompanies any family law dispute – especially with child custody and parenting time – it is useful to have assistance. Contacting professionals with more than 25 years’ experience can be a wise step from the outset.