Centuori & Associates, PC

Arizona parents may be interested in some information about one type of child custody that is vitally important in raising a child. Legal custody governs much of the decision-making surrounding a child's upbringing after the parents divorce. While physical custody deals with parenting time, legal custody has to do with the legal right to make the important decisions in a child's life. The types of decisions that legal custody governs include the child's religious upbringing, medical procedures and other healthcare issues, and choices about the child's education.

This type of custody is either sole or joint custody. With sole legal custody, one parent alone is responsible for making the major decisions regarding the child's upbringing and welfare. This does not stop parents from discussing the issues, but in the end, only one of the parents has legal authority to make the final decisions.

Joint legal custody is less common, but is still an option for courts to grant. When the parents have joint legal decision-making rights, they have equal say in the decision-making. As far as the court is concerned, neither of the parents has a superior position. Therefore, if the parents cannot agree on these decisions, a court may grant one of the parents sole decision-making power on one issue if it is in the best interests of the child.

Child custody issues can involve heavy emotions and financial concerns for a parent. An attorney may be able to represent the parent in negotiations with the other party or in front of a judge. This can help to alleviate some of the stress that a divorce can bring. The attorney may also be helpful in drafting a fair parenting plan or custody agreement between the parents that will be in the best interests of the child and approved by the court.

Source: Women's Law, "Custody", December 29, 2014

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