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Warner Angle Hallam Jackson & Formanek PLC


Child Custody and Visitation

The needs and best interests of minor children lie at the heart of every child custody and child visitation dispute. We understand that you want to do what is best for your child. Our job as lawyers is to guide you through the legal process to help you achieve that goal.

Child custody (in Arizona, technically known as "legal decision-making"), visitation and parenting time are determined by examining the "best interests" of the minor child(ren). The Court is required to consider all relevant factors as set forth in A.R.S. § 25-403, including:

  • Mental and physical health of all persons involved

  • The child(ren)'s adjustment and interrelationship to the parents, siblings and other family members

  • Whether one parent is more likely to facilitate contact with the other parent

The wishes of the child are also a factor that the Court must consider. There is no particular age at which a child gets to “choose” which parent to live with - this factor is a continuum where the child's wishes carry more weight as they approach age 18.

Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody

The Court orders either joint custody (legal decision-making) or sole custody under A.R.S. § 25-403.01. Legal decision-making is the authority to make decisions on behalf of the children. A parent can decide which school they will attend, what doctor they will see, what medications they receive and other important issues. The Court prefers to award joint custody unless the case involves issues such as drug or alcohol abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or other factors that could harm the child.

The Court specifically considers domestic violence (A.R.S. § 25-403.03) and drug or alcohol convictions (A.R.S. § 25-403.04) in entering a child custody order.

Access to a Child's Records

Unless the Court determines that there should be restrictions on a parent's access to the minor child's records, each parent is entitled to obtain records directly from medical providers, schools and other agencies, as allowed by A.R.S. § 25-403.06.

Primary Caretaker and Child Relocation Issues

The designation of one parent as the "primary caretaker" does not diminish the other parent's rights, nor does it create any presumptions in the event that further decision-making issues are litigated in Court. (A.R.S. § 25-403.07) However, such a designation could affect the parent's request to temporarily relocate out of Arizona.

Cases involving relocation of a child to another jurisdiction and modification and enforcement of orders from other Courts are complicated. They require an experienced attorney to address unique legal issues. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling relocation and jurisdiction issues. We can help you secure permission to relocate or prevent the relocation according to your needs.

We are also available to address Hague Convention child custody disputes. These are complex cases that involve international child custody laws. Our family law attorneys have the knowledge and experience to handle these difficult cases.

Resolving Child Custody Matters Amicably

Reaching a mutually acceptable agreement on custody, parenting time and visitation is almost always preferable to a trial. To reach a custody agreement, the parties must submit a Joint Parenting Plan under A.R.S. § 25-403.02. Typically, these negotiated agreements are much more detailed than the orders made by a Court after a trial, and are custom-tailored to your individual case. Therefore, negotiated Joint Parenting Plans provide much more stability and guidance to the parties with the aim of minimizing future decision-making and parenting time disputes.

You may pursue settlement of your matter through Alternative Dispute Resolution ("ADR") utilizing the court's free settlement conference procedures or through private mediation or arbitration.

If ADR does not resolve your case, we will assist you in obtaining a resolution from the Court through the traditional litigation process. Our experienced attorneys assist with preparing for and conducting Resolution Management Conferences, Temporary Orders hearings, Emergency Petitions and all types of trials and evidentiary hearings. We have the experience to help you establish, modify and enforce all types of legal decision-making and parenting time orders.



Joel Hoffman, Phoenix Child Custody and Visitation Attorney

Joel Hoffman

Erik Bergstrom, Phoenix Child Custody and Visitation Attorney

Erik Bergstrom

For more than 45 years, our family law attorneys have protected and advanced the rights of parents as they move through a divorce or child-related legal dispute. We have the knowledge to help you address all issues involved in child custody, visitation, parenting time, and legal decision-making issues.

Phoenix child custody lawyer Joel Hoffman video

How do I modify child custody in Arizona?


Joel Hoffman


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