Arizona Family Law & Estate Planning Attorneys
Call Today (480) 305-8300
Home Meet Our Attorney Family Law Estate Planning Probate Contact Us
Law from a different perspective…  Yours.
Divorce Family Law Estate Planning & Probate
Arizona Family Law >

Arizona Child Custody Laws - Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a parenting plan?

2. How do I establish child custody or legal decision making?

3. How do I enforce parenting time in Arizona?

4. How do I modify parenting time in Arizona?

5. What are the different forms of child custody?

6. What is sole legal custody or sole legal decision-making?

7. What is joint legal custody or joint legal decision-making?

8. Can I obtain my child's educational and medical records?

9. When can a child decide which parent to live with?

Michael Clancy - Arizona Parenting Plans

Establishing Child Custody in Arizona

Every child custody action starts with one of the parents filing a petition to establish child custody and parenting time; in the Maricopa County Superior Court or within the county which you reside. Once a petition is filed, the court will typically set what is called a resolution management conference. It's just a status conference to discuss whether the parents can reach an agreement on custody and parenting time, whether they should be referred to mediation to mediate those issues if they are not in agreement or whether the case needs to be set for trial at which point you present evidence and the court would enter a custody and parenting time arrangement. At which that judge believes to be in the best interest of your child or your children. If you have any other questions regarding how to establish child custody and parenting time in Arizona, please feel free to call 480-305-8300.

Kip Micuda - Enforcing Parenting Time in Arizona

The process of enforcing parenting time in Arizona starts with filing a petition for contempt, sometimes referred to as a petition for enforcement of the courts custody and parenting time orders. If the court finds after listening to the evidence that the other parent willfully and intentionally violated those orders, the court can hold that person in contempt and there are several remedies that are available to the court to resolve the issue. One of which, is the court can order make up parenting time for the time that was lost with the child. The court can modify custody or primary residential status and transfer the custody of the child from one parent to the other parent and the court can award attorney's fees among other things. If you have any other questions regarding how to enforce your custody or parenting time rights in the state of Arizona, please feel free to call 480-305-8300.

Modifying Parenting Time

You can ask that the court to modify the orders. Custody and parenting time can be changed until the child turns 18. However, Arizona law does impose some time limits. For example, custody cannot be modified for one year after the court last entered a custody order unless there is a threat of harm to the child. Changes in the parental access schedule with the children, however, can be changed at any time so long as a party is able to demonstrate that a substantial and continuing change in circumstances has occurred which justifies a change in the access schedule. Generally, the courts do not like to see parents repeatedly going back to court seeking changes in the orders unless a real and significant change in circumstances has occurred. You may not want to file for modification unless the problems are significant and you have at least attempted to solve the problems before going to court.

Chris Hildebrand - Different Forms of Child Custody

The term custody has been grossly misunderstood and misused. Within Arizona law, the term custody really pertains to two distinct and very different issues:

  1. How major decisions affecting the children—such as their education, health care, and religious upbringing—are made;
  2. How parenting time is apportioned between the two parents.

The first issue regarding how major life decisions are made for the children is referred to as legal custody and may be either sole or joint legal custody. The second issue regarding parenting time is referred to as physical custody, which can vary greatly depending upon a myriad of factors.

Sole Legal Custody

A parent granted sole custody has the authority to make the final decisions regarding the major life decisions affecting the parents' children, such as where the children attend school, the health care the children receive, and the extra-curricular activities the children will participate in—regardless of the opinion of the other parent. The other parent is still entitled to obtain information regarding his or her children's performance in school, performance in extracurricular activities, and health care directly from the provider of those services.

Joint Legal Custody

Parents sharing joint legal custody must reach agreements regarding major life decisions affecting their children. Each parent's rights and responsibilities in communicating about and reaching agreements regarding these decisions are outlined in a court ordered Parenting Plan. Disagreements between the parents regarding these decisions are often resolved through mediation or through use of a third person referred to as a Parenting Coordinator who will investigate the dispute and issue a recommendation to the court to resolve the disagreement between the parents.

Obtaining Education and Medical Records

Both parents are entitled by statute to obtain copies of their children's medical and educational records directly from the custodian of those records without the permission or authorization of the other parent regardless whether the parents share joint legal custodyor one parent has sole legal custody of the child. There are, however, some exceptions to this general rule, such as when release of the child's records to a parent may actually place that child in danger of harm by the parent requesting the records.

Children Deciding Primary Residence

To be direct, the court will always consider the wishes of that child. Typically, the older the child is, the more weight the court is going to give to that factor. Yet, here is no age that a child can decide which parent he or she will live with. The primary reason for that is a court has to enter orders that are in that child's best interest. If a child's motivation for living primarily with one parent as opposed to the other parent is based upon their best interest then the court will give it a lot of weight. However, if the child decision with which parent to live is based upon things that may not be in that child's best interest for example, that parent lets the child stay out past curfew, isn't properly supervising the child. Most likely the judge will give very little weight to the wishes of that child. If you have any other questions regarding custody or parenting time, please feel to call (480) 305-8300.

Contact Our Arizona Divorce Attorneys

Contact us today or call us at (480) 305-8300 to schedule your consultation with one of our Arizona divorce lawyers regarding the divorce process or any other Arizona family law matter.

Family Practice Areas
Arizona Divorce Process
Arizona Legal Separation
Arizona Paternity
Arizona Alimony
Arizona Child Custody
Arizona Child Abuse
Arizona Child Support
Arizona Orders of Protection
Arizona Community Property
Contact Us
Follow Us on
Law Firm News
Payment Plans
Hildebrand Law, PC
4900 N. Scottsdale Rd. Suite 2800 Scottsdale, AZ 85251.
Phone: (480) 305-8300
View Map