Deciding to file for divorce is never an easy decision to make, and when children are involved in the marriage, it can make the divorce process even harder. Although every state will have different specific laws and procedures regarding child custody in Arizona cases, the general rule of thumb is always the same – do what is in the best interest of the child. When parents are ready to have their child custody case decided in an Arizona court room, it is important they educate themselves on the custody laws in this state.
Child Custody Laws in Arizona
Any laws surrounding child custody in the state of Arizona will always be enforced for the best interest of the children involved in the divorce. Family courts will examine a number of factors when they are reviewing and deciding a child custody case in order to ensure they are doing what is best for the children. Since recent studies have shown that having both parents continue to be involved in the children’s lives is very important to their emotional well-being, this is what Arizona courts strive for.
What Determines Child Custody in Arizona
Since Arizona court systems will always make the decision that is best for the children’s upbringing, family court judges will look at a number of factors and custody arrangement options when making a final decision. The ideal arrangement will always be joint custody, whether it is joint physical, joint legal, or some form of both – this is what will help to keep both parents equally involved in the children’s lives. Judges will also look at a number of factors about both of the parents to decide what type of arrangement is best and if one parent will provide a better living situation than another.
Judges will consider the following factors among a number of other considerations:
- The ability to provide a safe, nurturing, proper home for the children
- The financially ability to provide food, clothing and education for the children
- The ability to make proper, important decisions regarding the children’s education, upbringing, and relationships with family members and peers
- Willingness and flexibility when it comes to communicating with one another and making the best decisions for the children
- The ability and willingness to encourage and foster a positive relationship between the children and the other parent
Arizona family court judges will examine all of the above factors and many, many more when making a child custody determination. In some cases, depending on the age of the children, the children’s preferences of whom they would like to live with may be taken into consideration. As mentioned before, the best interests of the children involved will always be the top priority, so whatever arrangement achieves that goal will be made, regardless of the preferences of the parents.
Types of Child Custody in Arizona
There are a number of different child custody arrangements that can be made under Arizona law, but the one arrangement that is highly favored is joint custody. This can include joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or a combination of both. Doing this will keep both parents involved in the children’s lives, which will enrich their relationships with both parents and give them the most stable and loving upbringing possible. When considering joint custody for a case, judges will consider the following:
- Were the parents able to come up with a joint custody agreement on their own?
- Are the parents willing and able to communicate with each other in order to make decisions about the upbringing of their children?
- Do the parents plan to live close enough to one another in order to make a joint physical custody agreement work?
- Can both parents agree to foster and encourage a positive relationship between the other parent and the children?
- Do either of the parents have any patterns of abuse, such as spousal or child abuse, that would make them having custody become a cause for concern?
Child Custody Modification in Arizona
When a child custody agreement is assigned, it may work well for a time but there may come a point when this agreement needs to change. Some of the reasons why a child custody agreement would need to change include one of the parents getting a new job, a parent getting a promotion and a schedule change, or the needs of the children change. Family courts in Arizona are hesitant to approve every single modification request since altering an agreement can cause disruptions for the children.
When a parents wishes to request a modification to the child custody arrangement they must petition the court to approve the request. When the judge reviews the modification request, he or she will look at a number of different aspects of the current custody agreement as well as the proposed modifications in order to make a final decision. Some of the considerations will include:
- Why the parent is requesting a modification to the current child custody agreement
- Does the other parent have any problems with the proposed modifications or is he or she opposing the modification
- What benefits will the modification provide for the children involved and do those benefits outweigh the possible disturbances it will cause for the children
The burden of proof to have the modification approved lies solely with the parent making the request. Arizona courts believe that consistency and stability are very important to children’s well-being, so making constant changes to a child custody agreement is frowned upon and often very hard to do. The parent making the request must prove without a shadow of a doubt the requested change will benefit the children by providing additional financial stability or educational opportunities.
Child Custody and Relocation in Arizona
While there are many reasons parents may request a modification to their child custody agreement, one of the most used reasons is that the parent wishes to relocate to another area of the state or even out of state and have the children move with them. This type of request would also be submitted to the court system for a family court judge to review. When an Arizona court review a relocation request, it will have a number of considerations to look at, including:
- If both parents agree to the relocation or if one parent opposes it
- What reason the parent making the request gives for wanting to relocate
- How the relocation will benefit the children involved, such as providing them with better educational opportunities, being closer to other family members or allowing the parent to be more financially stable
- The ages and needs of the children that are going to be relocated
- How the relocation will affect the children’s stability and well-being
Child custody battles are always the hardest and most emotional for both the parents and the Arizona family court system to deal with. While the parents want the agreement to be exactly what they desire, the judge will always look at what is in the best interest of the children – whether or not the parents’ desires and children’s needs align will have to be determined in the court.