When parents divorce in Arizona, they will need to make decisions about where their children will live. The court must determine who will have legal and physical custody of the children, and in some cases a parenting plan must be drafted.
There are two types of custody. Legal custody determines who has the legal right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing. If the parent has sole legal custody, he or she has the right to make these decisions without input from the other parent. If they share legal custody, they must make these decisions together. Physical custody often encompasses visitation rights. A parent who has sole custody will have the child live with them full-time, while joint custody means that time with the child will be shared as equally as possible. If the parents agree to joint legal and physical custody, they must sign a parenting plan.
A parenting plan is a plan that both parents agree to if they decide to share legal custody. A parenting plan determines how both parents will be involved in the care of the child and how decisions will be made during the raising of that child. These decisions include education, health care and religion decisions. This plan will also determine where the child lives. Additionally, the plan also includes a provision that determines the methods for parent dispute resolution and when the plan should be reviewed.
While some parents can come to an agreement when it comes to child custody, others may be unable to, especially if the divorce or separation has resulted in emotional stress. An attorney may be able to help their client either fight for custody of the children or reach an agreement that is in the best interests of the child.
Source: Findlaw, “Arizona Child Custody: Overview“, August 13, 2014