Understanding child custody decisions

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2023 | Family Law

If you are ending your marriage with your spouse, and you have children, custody may be at the top of your mind. Although you may understand child custody in the general sense, you probably want to learn more, so you know what to expect.

There are different types of custody that you and your soon-to-be ex can decide on. If you are unable to come to an agreement on your own, the courts will get involved. If they do, there are certain factors they will consider.

Types of custody awarded

FindLaw discusses that the two types of custody include legal and physical. One thing to keep in mind is that Arizona does not necessarily use the term ‘custody.’ Instead, they refer to the two types as decision-making and parenting time. Decision-making refers to whom makes major decisions regarding the child, while parenting time refers to the physical raising of the child.

For both types, there is joint and sole custody. Numerous studies show that joint parenting is better for a child’s wellbeing, so unless there are unusual circumstances, or there is abuse in the family, joint parenting time and decision-making are common.

Best interest consideration

Whether you as the parents or a judge make the decision regarding sole or joint custody, the Arizona State Legislature discusses the various factors involved in determining what is best for the child:

  • Physical and mental health of the child and each parent
  • Relationship between the child and each parent
  • Relationships with siblings and other family members
  • Willingness of each parent to allow the child to have contact with the other parent
  • Child’s ability to adjust to school, home and community
  • Presence of child abuse or domestic violence

When children are old enough to understand what is at stake, they may make their own wishes known regarding parenting time and decision-making.