When parents with children decide to end their marriage, they have to confront two major issues: child custody and child support. In 2013, the Arizona legislature made changes to child custody laws. Parents must be aware of these new regulations because they affect both custody and child support.

Changes in Language

Arizona no longer uses the phrases ‘legal custody’ and ‘physical custody’. They are now called ‘legal decision making authority’ and ‘parenting time’. Furthermore, there are some changes to the divorce process. In the beginning, parents with children must both attend a seminar on how divorce affects children. The classes are given in most Arizona counties, are scheduled at flexible times for working parents. There are evening or weekend classes, and parents also have the option to attend classes by a video link or on the internet.

When the parties to a divorce have asked the court to determine legal authority and parenting time, they are required to attend a four hour seminar, which is known as the Parenting Information Program. The fee is 50 dollars, but it’s worth it, because the course teaches a variety of skills and concepts, such as:

§ How divorce affects children

§ Signs that your child is in distress

§ Parenting for Divorced couples: how to work as a team

§ Effective Parenting: don’t fight in front of the children

§ Planning a parenting schedule

Breaking up the family unit affects children, so Parents, no matter how their parenting time is divided, have to learn a set of new parenting skills. Studies have shown that children whose divorced parents work together, have a better chance of developing into emotionally healthy adults.

The legislature has also encouraged mediation, if parents cannot reach an agreement on joint or sole legal custody, as well as parenting time. It is better for the children when their divorced parents can work as a team, without disputing every issue that arises about decision making or parenting schedules.

Since courts are departing from the customary joint custody schedule of every other weekend, parents should find an expert lawyer, who knows every aspect of decision making, parenting and support laws.


When a couple with children get divorced, one spouse may request child support from the other. Arizona uses a very complicated formula to determine the amount of child support— each spouse’s gross income, what percentage they contribute to payments, and on what grounds the payments may be modified.

It is best that each party to a divorce consult with an attorney. Often, the attorneys can help the parents reach an agreement, so the court will not have to get involved. They need a lawyer who not only has in depth knowledge of child support regulations, but also a staff of professionals who can provide financial and emotional counseling. When parents are able to negotiate a financial settlement, it is far better for the children’s physical and emotional welfare.

Nobody wins when divorcing parents fight about finances. It drags out the divorce proceedings, and makes everybody unhappy. Contact a law firm that can help you create a new partnership with your ex-spouse.