Two of the most crucial aspects of getting an Arizona divorce involving children are child custody / parenting time and legal decision-making on behalf of your children. Whether you're concerned about where your children go to school or worship, or you want to be counted in when it comes time for your child to be seen by a doctor or specialist, then how a judge rules in terms of your legal decision-making matters.
Also known as child custody, legal decision-making gives you legal rights to make these critical decisions about your child, and it gives you the legal voice you need to ensure your choices are heard. Beyond decision making abilities, you also want to ensure that you get the time with your child necessary for bonding — in court, this is called visitation, but it can mean anything from spending weekends or afternoons with your child all the way up to what is known as fifty-fifty custody, when parents share equal time with the child(ren) they have together.
3 Common Topics of Child Custody / Legal Decision Making / Parenting Time
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In the state of Arizona, child custody is closely tied to parental decision-making power, and most of the time, the parent with most of the custody will have most of the rights to decide what is in the best interest of the child or children a couple share.
Whether you have joint custody and share the decision-making power right down the middle, or you have little to no decision making power and wish to revisit the court’s ruling in your divorce case, the Barreda Law Firm can work with you.
As the two biggest issues in any divorce where there are children involved, legal decision-making and visitation are pillars of divorce decrees, and getting the best results for both you and your children will require an Arizona divorce attorney who is well versed in Arizona family law. At the Barreda Law Firm, we fight aggressively for the parental rights of our clients, and we will do just that for you as well.
When the time comes to negotiate the terms of a divorce with children in Arizona, the Barreda Law Firm knows exactly how to draft agreements that your ex-spouse will agree to, and that get you the time and decision-making power you want to have for your child(ren).
Whether yours is a contested or uncontested divorce with children, not only will we ensure that you obtain what you need for your children, we will also work diligently with your spouse's legal representation to make sure your needs are met in terms of paying or receiving child support and alimony (also known as spousal support). Let's take a closer look at what legal decision-making means in the state of Arizona first.
When it comes to the authority to make legal decisions for your child(ren), you and your spouse may share (fifty-fifty) the control, or one parent may have all or most of the decision-making power. In the state of Arizona, this decision-making power is broken down into three distinct categories:
- Joint decision-making: This is where both parents have an equal share of authority.
- Joint decision-making with one parent having the ultimate say: In this arrangement, parents will discuss the choices having to do with their child(ren), but ultimately, one parent will have the final say-so in all major decisions involving schooling, worship, healthcare, and living arrangements
- Sole decision-making power: In this arrangement, just one of the two legal parents of the child(ren) has the power to mull over any and all decisions and can ultimately make all choices on their own without having to consult the other parent in any way.
Arizona courts will always rule based on what is in the best interest of the child, and if the child is old enough to speak for him or herself, the court will also take what s/he says into account. But beyond this, courts take a number of variables into consideration when deciding who should have most or all of the custody of a child, including whether or not the child would have to make considerable adjustments to a new life, what kind of education the child would have access to, what kind of physical proximity the child would have to relatives on both sides of the family, and what kinds of parents both spouses have been in terms of involvement with the child's schooling, after-school clubs and sports, and how the family worships.
What's more, the court will also take a very close look at the child's living situation and determine whether or not there has been any abuse or neglect on the part of either or both parents involved.
And finally, the judge in your case will want to ultimately know which living situation would be best for the child's physical and mental health and wellbeing. Proving or disproving these things can be exceedingly difficult when you do not have the right representation, and that's why it is critical that you are represented by a family law attorney in Phoenix who understands child custody, legal decision-making, and child support laws.
In the state of Arizona, the judge in your case will always cautiously exercise his or her authority in a manner that ensures the best interest of the child(ren) comes ahead of any of the wishes of either parent in the divorce. As a general rule, judges will always try to consider that it is important for the children of the divorce need to spend what they deem "meaningful time with both parents," so that regardless of who has the decision-making power, as long as both parents want it, they can both maintain visitation with their child(ren).
To ensure the child's best interest, the judge in your case will consider, among other things:
- What the child's relationship to each parent looks like in terms of typical time spent together on a consistent basis
- How the child's relationship to you and time spent with you could impact his or her time spent with other siblings and extended family on both sides
- Whether or not the child would have to adjust or readjust to a new home, a new school, a new place of worship, and so on
- Any evidence that would cause the judge to conclude that either parent had lied to the court about something that would persuade or dissuade the court from making any decisions about custody or decision-making powers
- Any potential history of negligence or abuse on the part of either parent
- The mental wellbeing of the child, and how any new arrangements might affect his or her wellbeing
- What the wishes of the child are, given that s/he is old enough to speak for him/herself
And, while it is true that in Arizona, the most common outcome is joint custody, in order to get this outcome, you will need experienced representation from an Arizona divorce attorney who understands the nuances of family law. And, especially if you are fighting for the kind of joint decision-making power you want, where you would be part of making the decisions that shape your child's life, it is absolutely critical that your legal representation have the in-depth knowledge it takes to get this kind of ruling for you and for your children.
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Parenting Time in AZ: Get What’s Fair and What’s Best for You and Your Child
The Barreda Law Firm knows this is a difficult time for you and your child or children, and we understand that you naturally want what is best for them. To ensure that you have a winning outcome, when it comes time to present your case to the judge, the Barreda Law Firm will work tirelessly right at your side, day in and day out.
Get started today with our no-cost legal consultation and begin preparing for your divorce with children or paternity action. Let us show you a future with the decision-making powers and custody you deserve. Dial (480) 438-8014 to get started today.