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Understanding Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time

When it comes to seeking sole custody, it’s important to understand the difference between legal decision making and parenting time. Legal decision making refers to the authority to make important decisions for your child, while parenting time determines physical custody. Knowing how to approach these two aspects can significantly impact your chances of obtaining sole custody.

Factors Affecting Legal Decision Making

To obtain sole legal decision making, certain factors come into play. If there are instances of domestic violence or substance abuse, there is a presumption against joint legal decision making. However, it’s essential to note that this presumption can be overcome. Instead of solely relying on these issues, it’s crucial to present a comprehensive case highlighting other reasons why you should have sole decision-making authority. Referencing Arizona Statute 25-403, which outlines the best interests of the children, is instrumental in building your argument.

Presenting Your Case Effectively

Understanding how judges think and process information is the key to presenting your case effectively. Tailoring your arguments to align with their perspective increases your chances of success. For example, rather than focusing on personal beliefs, emphasize factors that matter to the judge, such as the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community, the child’s relationship with each parent, the child’s wishes if they’re of suitable age and maturity, and the parents’ ability to encourage meaningful contact and work together. By aligning your arguments with the judge’s criteria, you present a more compelling case.

Parenting Time and the Best Interests of the Child

When seeking physical custody, factors such as proximity, the child’s preferences, and their relationship within the community and school become important considerations. If joint legal decision making and equal parenting time are feasible, you must provide a compelling reason why it wouldn’t be in your child’s best interest. The default assumption is that having both parents involved is ideal. Thus, it’s essential to demonstrate why the other parent’s involvement could be detrimental to your child, using criteria such as neglect, abuse, unsuitability of the home, inability to provide for the child’s basic needs, or psychological harm. Additionally, involving third-party testimonies can further strengthen your case.

Obtaining sole custody is not an easy task, but it is achievable. By understanding the nuances of legal decision making and parenting time, you can strategize your arguments effectively. Presenting your case based on the factors outlined in the Arizona Statute and catering to the judge’s perspective increases your chances of success. Remember to focus on what is truly in the best interest of your child and craft a compelling argument that addresses the specific circumstances of your case. Seeking professional assistance from a family law firm can provide valuable guidance throughout the process.


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