Child Custody FAQ’s
- What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?
When parents have legal custody of their children, they can make legal decisions for their children. This includes healthcare, education and religious worship. Parents can also have sole or joint physical custody. Physical custody designates where and with whom your children will live.
- Can I get full legal and physical custody of my child(ren)?
There are some circumstances where one parent might receive full physical or legal custody of their child(ren), however, typically this is not the case. Typically, both parents have joint legal and physical custody.
- What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan and schedule is part of the child custody orders. It sets forth the terms of access that both parents agree to abide by.
- What happens if my spouse and I cannot agree about child custody?
If you and your spouse cannot agree on legal and/or physical custody of your child(ren), either a mediation can be scheduled to resolve disagreements or a hearing will be scheduled, and a judge will determine custody.
- What is a child custody evaluation?
A child custody evaluation is typically conducted by a mental health professional and becomes necessary in divorce proceedings when a parent is accused of domestic violence, substance abuse, child abuse, or in cases where there is high conflict between the two parents.
- On what basis does a judge decide child custody?
The judge will determine child custody based on the best interests of the child. Some of the factors that the judge considers are the child(ren)’s wishes, the parent’s wishes, history of domestic abuse, which parent has provided primary care, the mental and physical health of all involved individuals.
- Can I travel outside of Arizona and take my child(ren) with me?
Yes, if you have written consent from the child(ren)’s other parent.
- Can I relocate my child(ren) to another state?
If one parent is wanting to relocate to another state or move 100 miles or more from their current residence (and the parents share joint physical or legal custody), the relocating parent must provide the other parent with 45 days advance notice. The non-moving parent then can petition the court to prevent the relocation. If the non-moving parent approves the relocation, the moving parent may move with their children. If the non-moving parent does not approve, a hearing will be scheduled, and the judge will make a decision based on the best interests of the child(ren) involved.
- Can we create our own child custody agreement?
Yes, if both parents agree on a child custody arrangement, they can submit it to the court via their parenting plan.
- Do I need to take the parent information course?
Yes, all new divorcing parents of minor children and unmarried parents with custody disputes must attend a parent education program.
- Does my child get to decide which parent to live with?
A judge will always do what is in the best interest of the child(ren). He/she will always consider the child(ren)’s preference of where they want to live. As a child gets older, their input usually carries more weight with a judge’s decision.
- Can a grandparent or stepparent be awarded custody in Arizona?
Yes, in some situations a judge may find it necessary for a grandparent to be granted custody.