In a divorce, issues related to the children are usually the most important.
Accordingly, questions about how the court will award legal decision making
and parenting time are among the most common.
Most people use the term “custody” to describe which parent
the child lives with most of the time; however, Arizona now breaks what
used to be called “custody” into two categories known as “Legal
Decision Making” and “Parenting Time”.
Legal Decision Making is the legal right of a parent to make all non-emergency
decisions on behalf of the child. Legal Decision Making includes decisions
on education, healthcare, religion and personal care. Legal Decision Making
may be Joint with neither parent having Final Decision Making Authority;
Joint with one parent having Final Decision Making Authority; or Sole
with one parent having all Legal Decision Making Authority.
If the parents have Joint Legal Decision Making, neither parent has superior
rights than the other to make decisions for the child or children. So,
all decisions are made by communicating and consulting with the other
parent, agreeing on the appropriate action and then taking that action.
As many divorced parents know, that isn’t always easy.
So, when the parties have Joint Legal Decision Making and they absolutely
cannot agree, they may be forced to seek the assistance of the court to
come to a conclusion.
Parenting Time refers to the time that the child spends with each parent.
Parenting Time schedules vary greatly. Some parents are able to agree
upon a Parenting Time schedule that fits with their work schedules and
routine, while others cannot agree and end up with a schedule ordered
by the court.
Arizona law begins with the presumption that it is in the child or children’s
best interest to have substantial and meaningful contact with
both parents, absent compelling reasons to show otherwise. This means that
if you believe your child should not spend time with the other parent,
the burden is on you to prove why that is best.
In some cases, a parent may end up with only supervised parenting time
if the court determines that unsupervised parenting time would seriously
endanger the child.
As Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time are usually the issues of highest
importance to most parents, it is of the highest importance to have experienced
legal representation to protect your parental rights.
If you would like more information about protecting your parental rights
and/or to work with one of our experienced Attorneys, please call
OWENS & PERKINS at
480.994.8824 to schedule your free 30 minute consultation.