Child Custody During an Arizona Divorce
One of the first things people often ask is who has custody of the children during a divorce in Arizona. The simple answer is that neither parent’s rights to the care, custody and control of their children is superior to the rights of the other parent. If you found that answer to be not very helpful, you would be amongst the majority of parents struggling with this problem. However, there are remedies available to more clearly define when each parent will spend time with his or her children and the manner in which major decisions affecting the children will be decided.
Change May Be Difficult for Children
Either parent may request the court to schedule a Temporary Orders hearing to determine what parenting time arrangements are in the best interests of the children. Unless the facts of a particular case support otherwise, the court will attempt to make as few changes to the children’s living arrangements as possible because the court’s generally view changes to the children’s schedule as being disruptive to the children.
As a result, the court will determine which of the two parents continues to reside in the home where the children have been raised and which parent has primarily been responsible for taking care of the children. These factors are not conclusive on the issue of each parents time with the children, but they are considered by all judges in Arizona.
The Children’s Best Interests are Most Important
Ideally, parents would place the best interests of their children as their first priority. There are situations when both parents have different opinions regarding what is best for their children, which does not necessarily mean either or both parents are placing their interests ahead of their children. It may simply be a matter of a disagreement.
However, there are some circumstances when parents are proposing a parenting schedule to further their own self interests, such as to strike out at the other parent or attempt to gain a financial advantage over child support. The extent to which such a parent advances his or her agenda, such as attempting to influence the children or alienate the child from the other parent, will have significant negative consequences for the children.
An judge in Arizona will expect both parents to protect the children from any conflict occurring in the divorce. When a parent does not do so, the court may need to employ therapists, parenting coordinators, and other experts to monitor and report back to the court. If the problem is not resolved, the court may grant one parent sole legal decision making rights over the children.
Temporary Orders Hearings
Parents should attempt to work out a temporary parenting time arrangement themselves. If they are unable to reach an agreement, either party may file a Motion for Temporary Orders, which is a request for the court to schedule a hearing to determine what parenting time arrangements will be put into place until the court may conduct the final divorce trial.