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Legal Custody in Arizona — Who Gets to Decide?


Child Custody Attorney in Mesa AZ

One of the most frequent questions I get as an Arizona Family Law Attorney is: can I get full or sole custody of my child or children?  It is my experience that many clients going through a divorce don’t entirely understand what legal custody is.  It is not uncommon for a client going through a difficult divorce to tell me that he or she wants the minor child or children to be with him or her the majority of the time… “I want full custody!”

The truth is, it is not an easy thing to get full or “sole custody” of a minor child in Arizona.  What I think most of my clients really want and are asking for, is for the court to award him or her, the majority of the parenting time with the child or children.  There is a big difference between legal custody and parenting time.  It is important to understand that, except for in specific circumstances, it is unlikely an Arizona family law judge will award one parent sole custody of a child.  It is not uncommon, however, for a judge to award one parent more parenting time than the other.  As in all cases, the specific circumstances of the case really do dictate what a family law judge may decide regarding these two very important issues.

Legal custody is really the ability of the parent or parents to make decisions regarding their minor child or children.  These decisions include such things as educational decisions; religious decisions and medical decisions.  A parent who is awarded sole custody of a child will have the legal authority to make all of these decisions on behalf of their child without input from the other parent.  Because sole custody deprives one parent of the ability to make decisions about his or her child, it is not taken lightly.  Almost every Arizona family court judge I have appeared before has shown a preference for a child to have both parents as actively involved as possible in their children’s lives.  For this reason, most Arizona family law courts will award parents joint legal custody.  This requires the parents to continue to make these important decisions jointly on behalf of their children.

When deciding legal custody or legal decision-making, Arizona family law judges are required to consider a number of factors.   These factors are found in A.R.S. 25-403 and include the following:

  • The relationship between the parent and child, past, present, and future.
  • How the child interacts with each parent and the interrelationship of the child with other siblings or any other person (such as a grandparent) who affect the child’s best interest.
  • How the child adjusts to home, a school, or a community.
  • The wishes of the child, if the child is of suitable age and maturity.
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
  • Which parent is the most likely to allow ongoing and meaningful contact with the other parent? ( Note that the court will not apply this factor if the court finds that one parent, in good faith, is trying to keep the child from a domestic violence or abuse situation)
  • Whether one parent tries to mislead the court or intentionally delay the proceedings to unnecessarily increase litigation costs.
  • Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse.
  • Whether one party has used coercion or duress to obtain an agreement from the other parent.
  • Whether a parent was convicted of a false act of child abuse or neglect

Each of the factors must be carefully considered by the judge before making a decision regarding both custody (legal decision making) and parenting time.  In weighing each of these factors, the court must always consider what is in the best interest of the child.  The complexity of these factors makes custody fights some of the most difficult and emotional issues in any Arizona child custody case.  Because of the difficulty of this issue, having an experienced family law attorney in your corner can make all the difference.

I have long held the belief that knowledge is power in family law cases.  Clients who have an understanding of what the courts must consider before making these difficult and important decisions always have a leg up in the case.  This knowledge eliminates a lot of the fear and uncertainty and helps the client to focus on what is really important.  When it comes to issues involving custody, this approach may be the most important part of any case.

If you have any questions about a Child Custody case in Mesa, AZ Please give my office a call.


Our team of family law attorneys and divorce attorneys look forward to helping you when you need it most. With over two decades of aggressive divorce, child custody, child support, and divorce mediation representation we will not allow you to be taken advantage of. We believe in making a difference in the lives of our clients and their children.


Mesa, AZ – Office

Located in Mesa Arizona, on Val Vista and Southern Avenue. Our Family Law Attorneys and Divorce Lawyers in Mesa AZ have been helping our clients achieve the legal results they are searching for. Our Mesa Law Firm offers Divorce Mediation, Uncontested Divorce, Contested Divorce, Legal Separation, Female Divorce Lawyers, Annulment, Child Support Issues, Child Custody, Military Divorce, Parenting Plans, Prenuptial Agreements, Postnuptial Agreements, Grandparents Rights, Paternity, Order of Protection, Name Change and all Family Law legal issues.

Jensen Family Law in Mesa AZ
3740 E. Southern Ave Suite 210
Mesa, AZ 85206
(480) 999-2321
https://familylawattorneymesaaz.net/mesa

Chandler, AZ – Office

Located On Dobson Road, just North of W. Chandler Blvd, near the 101 Freeway. We have a team of the Best Divorce Lawyers and Family Law Attorneys in Chandler Arizona. Our Chandler Law Firm offers Divorce Mediation, Uncontested Divorce, Contested Divorce, Legal Separation, Female Divorce Lawyers, Annulment, Child Support Issues, Child Custody, Military Divorce, Parenting Plans, Prenuptial Agreements, Postnuptial Agreements, Grandparents Rights, Paternity, Order of Protection, Name Change and all Family Law legal issues.

Jensen Family Law in Chandler AZ
333 N. Dobson Rd #5
Chandler, AZ 85224
(480) 632-2083
https://familylawattorneymesaaz.net/chandler

Gilbert, AZ – Office

Located in South East Gilbert, Near Higley High School on Pecos Road, West of Power Road in the Power Ranch Neighborhood. Our Gilbert Law Firm offers Divorce Mediation, Uncontested Divorce, Contested Divorce, Legal Separation, Female Divorce Lawyers, Annulment, Child Support Issues, Child Custody, Military Divorce, Parenting Plans, Prenuptial Agreements, Postnuptial Agreements, Grandparents Rights, Paternity, Order of Protection, Name Change and all Family Law legal issues.

Jensen Family Law in Gilbert AZ
4365 E. Pecos Rd Suite 138
Gilbert, AZ 85295
(480) 900-2302
https://familylawattorneymesaaz.net/gilbert

Florence, AZ – Office

Located in the Community of Anthem in Florence Arizona, off of Hunt Hwy. Our Florence Law Firm is staffed with family law attorneys that offer Divorce Mediation, Uncontested Divorce, Contested Divorce, Legal Separation, Female Divorce Lawyers, Annulment, Child Support Issues, Child Custody, Military Divorce, Parenting Plans, Prenuptial Agreements, Postnuptial Agreements, Grandparents Rights, Paternity, Order of Protection, Name Change and all Family Law legal issues.

Jensen Family Law in Florence AZ
3281 N. Hunt Hwy Suite 111
Florence, AZ 85132
(480) 632-1120
https://familylawattorneymesaaz.net/florence

Glendale, AZ – Office

Located in Glendale Arizona, off of Hunt Hwy. Our Florence Law Firm is staffed with family law attorneys that offer Divorce Mediation, Uncontested Divorce, Contested Divorce, Legal Separation, Female Divorce Lawyers, Annulment, Child Support Issues, Child Custody, Military Divorce, Parenting Plans, Prenuptial Agreements, Postnuptial Agreements, Grandparents Rights, Paternity, Order of Protection, Name Change and all Family Law legal issues.

Jensen Family Law in Glendale AZ
7075 West Bell Road Suite 5
Glendale, AZ 85308
(602) 834-8585
https://familylawattorneymesaaz.net/glendale/




LET US REVIEW YOUR CASE

Jensen Family Law in Mesa is located on 3740 E Southern Ave Suite 210, 85206 Mesa, Arizona. From Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Take S 41st St to E Sky Harbor Blvd, then head west on E Sky Harbor Blvd and Use the left lane to take the exit toward S 41st St. Then Turn right onto S 41st St. After that, Continue straight to stay on S 41st St, then Take AZ-202 Loop E, AZ-101 Loop S and US-60 E to S Val Vista Dr in Mesa. Take exit 184 from US-60 E after that Merge onto E Sky Harbor Blvd, then Use the left 2 lanes to merge onto AZ-202 Loop E toward Tempe/Mesa and Use the right 3 lanes to take exit 9 to merge onto AZ-101 Loop S. After that, Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 55A-B to merge onto US-60 E toward Globe, then Take exit 184 for Val Vista Dr. Then Continue on S Val Vista Dr to your destination and Turn left onto S Val Vista Dr. Turn right onto E Southern Ave, then turn left and Destination will be on the right.

We’re open 9 AM – 5 PM Monday – Friday and we are closed on Saturday and Sunday.

For additional questions you can call us at (480) 999-2321 or you can find us on Yelp.