Trials on issues of Parenting Time and Legal Decision-Making are often very emotional, difficult processes for all parties involved. Knowing what to expect from trials on these types of child custody issues can help clarify the purpose of a trial, set expectations, and help you best prepare.
Child Custody Issues in Arizona
Legal Decision-Making is a parent’s right to make decisions on behalf of their child regarding non-emergency medical care (an example is whether the child gets braces), education (an example is public or private school), and religious upbringing (ie., what church the child goes to).
It is NOT and DOES NOT determine who has physical custody of the child or which parent the child lives with. The Court prefers Joint Legal Decision-Making wherein both parents have a say and cooperate in making such decisions. Although, in cases in which there are significant issues with one parent that render such cooperation impossible such as alcohol and substance abuse or domestic violence against the other parent, the Court may consider awarding Sole Legal Decision Making or “final say” to one party.
Parenting Time is the schedule and circumstances for when and how each parent has the child(ren) physically in their care, custody, and control. Absent again either significant issues with one of the parents or unique circumstances, the Court usually prefers that the parties share essentially equal parenting time with their children.
In the event that there are significant issues, such as substance abuse or domestic violence that may pose a threat to the child’s wellbeing, the Court may limit or restrict that party’s parenting time making it be supervised, limited in duration, subject to random drug testing, and/or imposing requirements for therapy and counseling. The parents’ own unique circumstances, such as a prohibitive work or travel schedule, may also be a basis for alternative schedules and arrangements to equal parenting time.
During the trial, the court will hear each party testify and present evidence to support their claims.
If a party is seeking sole Legal Decision-Making, they will need to present compelling evidence that there are major issues rendering the other parent unfit to co-parent, such as instances of current or former domestic violence between the parties or involving the children or significant substance abuse problems.
If a party is seeking primary physical custody or supervised parenting time, they will need to present compelling evidence supporting their claim that the other parent poses a danger to the child’s wellbeing that requires supervision by a third party or is unable or unavailable to care for the child on an equal time basis. The court will consider each parties’ work schedule, commute, childcare arrangements, etc. but only in relation to the child’s best interests – not the parties’ convenience.
The best way to ensure success in a trial involving child custody issues is by seeking and retaining legal counsel. To learn how you can seek the best outcome from your upcoming trial, contact the attorneys at OWENS & PERKINS by clicking here or by calling our office at 480.630.2464 to schedule your FREE 30-minute legal consultation. We remain fully operational while practicing appropriate social distancing and cleaning regimes.