Parents in Arizona who are going to be getting divorced often have worries and concerns over what will happen to their children. Naturally, you want your kids to be protected and to have proper care from you and your ex after a divorce. However, there is often some confusion when it comes to the custody of the children. Below are some of the most common child custody FAQ’s in Arizona along with the answers you need.

How Is Child Custody Defined in Arizona?

The term custody is no longer used in Arizona, and it hasn’t been since 2013. Instead, the terms that are used are legal decision-making and parenting time. Parenting time refers to the amount of time each parent physically spends with their child. Legal decision-making is the authority of parents to make important decisions for their children.

The amount of parenting time for each parent will often be 50/50, as this is what the court prefers. However, this is not always possible based on a range of factors including the parent’s work schedule and where they live. The actual amount of parenting time can vary from case to case.

Also, the presumption is that there will be joint legal decision-making, as well. This will provide both parents with equal rights when it comes to making important decisions for their children for schooling, medical treatment, etc.

However, there may be some cases where sole legal decision-making is granted to one of the parents. In those instances, only one parent will be allowed to make the legal decisions regarding their child. These tend to be rare, though. Parents will have to show that there are good reasons that the other parent should not be allowed to make decisions for their child. The more verifiable reasons you have to present as evidence the better.

What Factors Are Determined for Legal Decision-Making?

The courts will consider a range of factors when it comes to providing legal decision-making and parenting time. They always have the children’s best interests in mind. The feelings of the parents do not come into question.

Some of the factors considered include the relationship between the parent and the child, their interactions, the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community, whether one parent intentionally misled the court, and whether there has been domestic violence. These are just some of the factors. You can talk with an attorney about other factors that could be considered, this is one of the most popular child custody FAQ’s that we receive.

Can Fathers Get Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time?

One of the common myths is that fathers will always get the short end of the stick when it comes to parenting time and legal decision-making. While it might have seemed that way decades ago, that’s no longer the case. In Arizona and many other states, there is the presumption that the parents will both have 50% parenting time and joint legal decision-making. Of course, there may be factors that change this. For example, someone who is abusive or who has a serious substance abuse problem may not get joint legal decision-making. It will vary from case to case.

Does Joint Legal Decision-Making Mean There’s No Child Support?

This is one of the major concerns that many people have regarding joint legal decision-making. Just because both parents have parenting time and joint legal decision-making doesn’t mean that there won’t be any child support paid. The calculation for child support is based on a shared income model and is determined using a calculator.

The basic needs of the child are calculated using income information from the parents, the amount of parenting time each parent has, health insurance, and other expenses. Then, they will determine which parent will have to pay, as well as the amount of monthly child support.

Can You Refuse Parenting Time if Child Support Isn’t Paid?

Another series of child custody FAQ’s that come up are whether parents can withhold their children from the other parent if that parent is not paying child support on time, or if they haven’t paid at all. It’s important to keep in mind that child support and parenting time are not the same things. They are separate issues. This means that you can’t withhold your children from the other parent no matter how far behind they are on child support.

However, you can talk with the court and let them know that your ex is not paying child support. You could also have an attorney draft a letter to send to your ex. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a letter from an attorney to get them back on track. If they aren’t paying still, let the courts know and legal action can be taken.

Can I Move Out of State with My Child?

The answer to this question is that it will depend. If you try to remove your child from the state and it would violate the court order, you can’t do it. This would deprive the other parent of having parenting time with the child. If you prevent them from having parenting time, whether you move to another state, another location in Arizona, or you simply refuse to let them see the child, you would violate the court order.

It may be possible to relocate with your child to a different state, though. You will need to seek the permission of the court and notify the other parent. You can’t simply move away until the child is 18 or emancipated. You will need to make sure that it’s done in accordance with the law.

If you are going to be moving more than 100 miles away in Arizona, you will have to provide the other parent with 60 days’ notice. This is because it will affect that parent’s access to the child.

Get in Touch with a Family Law Attorney

You might have other questions regarding child custody that haven’t been answered above. The best thing you can do is get in touch with a family law attorney that knows and understands the laws in Arizona. They can answer all of the questions you have and let you know what you need to do in your case. If you have any child custody FAQ’s you would like to add to this list, please email us at info@mymodernlaw.com you can also find more information on the Arizona DES website.