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What Are the Child Custody Factors in Arizona | Hildebrand Law, PC

What Are the Child Custody Factors in Arizona.

If you are involved in a child custody case, you may be asking yourself what are the child custody factors in Arizona. The judge assigned to your case will decide each parent’s role in making major decisions affecting your child(ren) and each parent’s respective rights to parental access to the child(ren). The judge’s decision is based entirely on what orders he or she believes is in the children’s best interests.

Arizona Child Custody Factors in A.R.S. 25-403

The court is required to consider several child custody factors before issuing orders regarding legal custody (now referred to as “legal decision-making”) and the division of parenting time each parent will share with the child(ren). Specifically, the court will consider the following child custody factors:

  • The wishes of the parents;
  • The child’s wishes;
  • How the child interacts with each parent and any other kids or other adults in their respective households;
  • The mental, emotional, and physical health of each caregiver to the child;
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and surrounding community;
  • Which parent has been primarily responsible for providing care for the child in the past, as well as each parent’s current and future potential relationship with the child;
  • Which parent is more likely to allow the child to maintain frequent and meaningful contact with the other parent;
  • Whether either party has attempted to use duress or coercion to force the other parent into reaching an agreement regarding legal decision making or parenting time of the child;
  • Whether either party has raised a false allegation of child abuse against the other parent;
  • Whether either parent has been convicted of a domestic violence offense or has a substance abuse problem;
  • Whether either parent has unnecessarily protracted litigation concerning the issues of legal decision making or parenting time;
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Additional Arizona Child Custody Factors if a Parent Wants to Relocate Children

In some cases, a parent may want to move the children to another state or a significant distance from the other parent. If either parent proposes to move the children more than 100 miles from their current residence, Arizona law requires a judge to consider even more child custody factors. Specifically, a judge must consider the additional following child custody factors before deciding whether to allow the child to move and to enter child custody orders:

  • The factors prescribed under section 25-403;
  • Whether the relocation is being made or opposed in good faith and not to interfere with or to frustrate the relationship between the child and the other parent or the other parent’s right of access to the child;
  • The prospective advantage of the move for improving the general quality of life for the custodial parent or for the child
  • The likelihood that the parent with whom the child will reside after the relocation will comply with parenting time orders;
  • Whether the relocation will allow a realistic opportunity for parenting time with each parent;
  • The extent to which moving or not moving will affect the emotional, physical or developmental needs of the child;
  • The motives of the parents and the validity of the reasons given for moving or opposing the move including the extent to which either parent may intend to gain a financial advantage regarding continuing child support obligations
  • The potential effect of relocation on the child’s stability

Consider the Arizona Child Custody Factors When Mediating Child Custody Issues

If the parents are unable to reach an agreement regarding legal decision making or parenting time of their children, the court may order the parents to participate in mediation to assist them in reaching an agreement regarding these issues.

If the parents are unable to resolve their differences through mediation, the court may appoint a third person, such as a psychologist experienced in working with divided families, to evaluate the case and provide an expert opinion regarding the most appropriate custody and parental access orders.

Domestic Violence, Child Abuse or Neglect Are Given More Weight in Child Custody Decisions in Arizona

It is important to understand that if the court finds the existence of significant domestic violence or a significant history of domestic violence, the court is precluded from granting custody to the perpetrator of that domestic violence and the court is no longer required to consider any of the child custody factors set forth above.

You should read our analysis of the Arizona Court of Appeals’ decision in the Hurd v. Hurd case for more information on the effect of domestic violence on child custody decisions in Arizona.

The Arizona Supreme Court in the case of In Re Marriage of Gove addressed whether a parent can be required to sign a release of his or her medical and psychological records in a child custody case.

The appeals court in the Gove case held that a parent places their physical, mental, and psychological condition before the court when they participate in a child custody case as a result of the legislature specifically including the parties’ mental and physical health as an issue the court is required to consider.

If you have questions about what are the child custody factors in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona child custody and family law attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in child custody and family law cases.

Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.

Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your child custody or family law case around today.

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