In Arizona, child custody is determined based on a number of factors. However, the main basis for deciding child custody in Arizona is the best interests of the child. In a custody determination, a family court in Arizona will not discriminate against a parent due to the parent's gender. Parents who reside in Arizona and wish to file for custody should first become familiar with the child custody laws in Arizona.
Best Interests of the Child
The court will determine custody of a child based on the best interests of the child. A family court in Arizona will consider the following factors in determining child custody:
- The child's wishes
- Each parent's wishes
- The child's adjustment to home, school, and the community
- Any history of domestic violence or child abuse
- Whether the parents have provided primary care of the child
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
- The child's relationship with each parent
- Each parent's willingness to foster a meaningful and substantial relationship with the other parent
Joint Child Custody in Arizona
In Arizona, a court may grant parents either sole or joint custody. An Arizona court may order joint legal custody and not order joint physical custody. However, joint custody will only be ordered if it's in the child best interests. Prior to making a joint custody determination, a court will consider the following factors:
- Agreement or lack of agreement by the parents regarding joint custody
- If parents are not in agreement, whether the lack of agreement is unreasonable or based on an issue unrelated to the best interests of the child
- Whether a joint custody arrangement is feasible
- Each parent's ability to communicate and cooperate with each other
The court will issue an award of joint custody in Arizona if both parents agree and submit a written parenting plan, and the court believes the order is in the best interests of the child. The parenting plan will include each parent's rights and responsibilities as to the child's education, health care, physical residence, and the manner in which disputes will be handled. Disputes are generally handled via arbitration or mediation.
Additional Factors Considered in Determining Child Custody in Arizona
A court in Arizona will not grant custody or visitation to a parent where there's a significant risk of danger to the child. The following factors will affect a parent's ability to obtain custody or visitation of a child:
- The parent's history of drug offenses
- Whether the parent has a murder conviction
- Whether the parent is a convicted sexual offender
However, a family court in Arizona will consider attendance at counseling sessions and the nature of a criminal offense, prior to denying custody.
For more information about child custody in Arizona, please visit the Arizona Domestic Relations statute or speak with a qualified attorney in Arizona.