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What Parents should know about Child Custody in Arizona

When parents decide to separate or divorce, one important aspect is that of child care. Some important information about child custody is given below:

When one person is granted custody of a child, he or she has the responsibility to take care of the child including all important decisions. Such a person is referred to as the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent is one who does not have sole custody of the child and can spend time with the child through residential time and visitation, also known as parenting time. Sometimes problems of custody arise when parents are not married or do not live together. In case the parents cannot reach an agreement about child care, the court intervenes and decides a plan which looks after the various aspects of child care including health, welfare, custody and parenting time.

Parents can be granted sole custody of the child where one parent is primarily responsible for major decisions about the child. They can also be granted joint custody, where both parents are responsible according to an agreed parenting plan approved by court. Similarly, the court can also grant joint legal custody (each parent has same rights to make decisions about the child) or sole legal custody (legal custody awarded to one parent). The law does not favor one type of custody over another. Another type of custody is joint physical custody where both parents share the child’s physical residence to ensure equal time and contact with the child. There can be various scenarios about child custody where the court can decide the type and details of the custody, sometimes using the internal court mediation services.

Parenting time is equally important as any child must have a positive relationship with both parents and the opportunity to spend time with each parent. The state of Arizona has a law which allows reasonable rights of parenting time to meet the physical, mental, moral and emotional needs of the child. The amount of parenting time varies from case to case and also according to the age and development stage of the child.

Parenting time and custody are related to each other as parenting time may be allotted accordingly. For example according to Arizona law, if a parent is not granted custody then he/she is allowed reasonable parenting time so that all needs of the child are met.

There are provisions in the state law under which persons other than the parents can have both custody and/or parenting time. Such cases may be considered under special circumstances.

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