Are you facing a legal case concerning Legal Decision-Making and Child Custody in Arizona? Arizona courts have to make a decision about child custody and legal decision-making in contested cases. Child custody and legal decision-making in Arizona are decided based on the “best interest factors” in A.R.S. §25-403. The Arizona best interest factors for child custody and legal decision-making are not considered in a vacuum. The court will also consider whether there is domestic violence, substance abuse, and whether the parents agree on a parenting plan. There is even a recent case that says that when the parents do agree on a parenting plan for child custody, the court can’t disturb that decision.
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There is a new case in Arizona about equal parenting time, which is the “starting point” for custody determinations based on a 2018 Arizona appellate court case.
A. The court shall determine legal decision-making and parenting time, either originally or on a petition for modification, in accordance with the best interests of the child. The court shall consider all factors that are relevant to the child’s physical and emotional well-being, including:
1. The past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.
2. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest.
3. The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community.
4. If the child is of suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child as to legal decision-making and parenting time.
5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with the other parent. This paragraph does not apply if the court determines that a parent is acting in good faith to protect the child from witnessing an act of domestic violence or being a victim of domestic violence or child abuse.
7. Whether one parent intentionally misled the court to cause an unnecessary delay, to increase the cost of litigation or to persuade the court to give a legal decision-making or a parenting time preference to that parent.
8. Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse pursuant to section 25-403.03.
9. The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding legal decision-making or parenting time.
10. Whether a parent has complied with chapter 3, article 5 of this title.
11. Whether either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect under section 13-2907.02.
B. In a contested legal decision-making or parenting time case, the court shall make specific findings on the record about all relevant factors and the reasons for which the decision is in the best interests of the child.
For more factors and considerations concerning child custody and legal decision-making in court decisions, see the statute on Sole and Joint Legal Decision-Making.