What Do Arizona Courts Consider in Determining Child Custody?
In making its order, the Court is required to consider all information that is relevant to the children’s best interests.
In Arizona, “child custody” is
now called legal decision-making. The law establishes a preference for
joint legal decision-making, and a parent seeking sole legal decision-making has
the burden to prove to the Court why such an order is in the best interest of
the minor children. Some acceptable reasons might include drug or alcohol abuse
by the other parent, or sexual abuse, physical abuse or mental illness.
In making its order, the Court
is required to consider all information that is relevant to the children’s best
interests. In particular, A.R.S. § 25-403 lists 11 factors for the Court’s
The past, present and
potential future relationship between the parent and the child.
The interaction and
interrelationship of the child with the child's parent or parents, the
child's siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the
child's best interest.
The child's adjustment to
home, school and community.
If the child is of
suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child as to legal
decision-making and parenting time.
The mental and physical
health of all individuals involved.
Which parent is more
likely to allow the child frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with
the other parent. This paragraph does not apply if the court determines that
a parent is acting in good faith to protect the child from witnessing an act
of domestic violence or being a victim of domestic violence or child abuse.
Whether one parent
intentionally misled the court to cause an unnecessary delay, to increase
the cost of litigation, or to persuade the court to give a legal
decision-making or a parenting time preference to that parent.
Whether there has been
domestic violence or child abuse pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-403.03.
The nature and extent of
coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding
legal decision-making or parenting time.
Whether a parent has
complied with Chapter 3, Article 5 of this title.
Whether either parent was
convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect under
section A.R.S. § 13-2907.02.
There is no specific age at
which a child gets to “choose” where to live. As the child get closer to age 18,
his or her wishes will carry more weight with the Court. Typically, Courts start
giving significant weight to the child’s wishes around age 12.