What is Joint Legal Custody or Joint Decision Making in Arizona?
Parents sharing joint legal custody (now referred to as joint legal decision making) 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 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.
When parents disagree regarding which school their children will attend, the parties may need to present that issue to the court for the judge to make the decision. The Arizona Court of Appeals in the case of Jordan v. The Honorable John Rea set forth the factors the trial court should consider when determining which school the children will attend.
However, the Arizona Court of Appeals in the Baker v. Meyer case set forth, even more, factors the trial court must consider when ruling on a choice of school if the change in school will affect a parent’s parenting time with the children. This situation can occur when the proposed new school is located so far away from a parent that he or she may not be able to exercise all of his or her court-ordered parenting time.
If the parties disagree with the recommendations made by the Parenting Coordinator, such as a disagreement regarding which school a child will attend, they are entitled to a hearing and an Arizona judge will have the authority to make the choice of school decision based upon what is in the best interests of the child pursuant to the decision in the DePasquale v. Superior Court case.
You may watch the video below discussing this appellate case that dealt with that issue.
Depasquale v. Superior Court | Delegation of Parenting Time Decisions
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Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about joint legal custody and joint decision making to ensure everyone has access to information about child custody laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a child custody case should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.