Child custody is often a very confusing and misunderstood area of family law for people facing a Phoenix custody or divorce case. With the new year brings new changes to the laws on child custody in Arizona. The first and most apparent change is that the term “child custody” has been replaced with the term “legal decision-making.” A.R.S. §25-403 includes several other changes that may affect your Phoenix divorce or custody case. The following are some examples of the changes made:
- The law eliminates any consideration of the wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to custody.
- The fact that one, both, or neither parent has provided primary care for the child is no longer considered.
- The factor that permits the court to consider the wishes of the child has been modified to only require the court to consider the child’s wishes if that child is of suitable age and maturity.
- The law adds a requirement that the court must consider the past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and child.
- Where the law previously required the court to consider which parent would be more likely to provide frequent, meaningful continuing contact with the other parent, the new law seems to divide these into three separate factors, instead of two. So, the court will consider which parent is more likely to provide 1) frequent, 2) meaningful, and 3) continuing contact with the other parent.
The law also includes the following new provisions:
- The court may consider whether one parent intentionally misled the court to cause unnecessary delay, increase the cost of litigation or to persuade the court to give them parenting time or custody or to deny the other parent parenting time or custody.
- The court shall not consider either the parent or child’s gender when approving a parenting plan.
- The court shall consider the past, present and future abilities of the parents to cooperate in decision-making about the child as set forth in the orders for joint legal decision-making.
The foregoing are just some of the changes made to the Arizona laws on custody and legal decision-making. If you have questions regarding a Phoenix, Glendale or Anthem divorce or child custody case contact Scott Law Offices for your free consultation.