One of the most frequent questions family lawyers get asked is: am I eligible for full custody of my child?
Well, there is no single answer to that question considering the numerous factors that are called into play when determining custody. The court must assess a number of factors including the circumstances of your divorce, each parent’s relationship with the child, past family conflicts involving the child etc. and try to come up with a decision that is in the best interests of the child.
One thing that every parent going through a divorce needs to understand is that being awarded sole or full custody in Arizona is no child’s play. You may get the majority of parenting time but the court must be presented with proof of specific circumstances to strip the other parent of their parenting rights. There is a huge difference between parenting time and legal custody. Parenting custody is almost always guaranteed for all parents.
Legal custody and how it is awarded
Legal custody can be defined as the legal capacity of a parent to make and enforce decisions on behalf of their minor child. These decisions may be related to the medical, religious, and educational aspects of the child’s life.
A parent awarded full or sole custody of their child is basically granted authority to solely make all these decisions for the child. It doesn’t matter whether the other spouse is the child’s biological parent or if they actively contributed to the upbringing of the children prior to the divorce; sole custody to the other party completely takes normal parenting rights away from them, at least until the child is 18 years old.
If you are in the throes of a divorce and are looking for legal custody of your child or children, or are worried about your partner could be planning to lock you out of your child’s life, understanding how custody is determined in Arizona will help you personally assess your situation and understand where you fall. Here are some of the factors used to determine child custody:
- The relationship of the child with either parent
- The child’s interrelationship with other relatives or siblings who may affect the best interests of the child
- Ease of the child to adjust to a new home, school, community, etc.
- The child’s wishes
- The mental and physical health of the child and both parents
- The willingness of either parent to allow the child to continue being in touch with the other parent (Note that if one parent is not willing to allow ongoing contact with the other parent to protect their child against potential violence or abuse, the court will ignore this factor)
- The possibility of one parent lying to the court or deliberately delaying the proceedings in an effort to increase litigation costs
- The possibility of one parent being violent or abusive
Clearly, a lot goes into determining who should get legal custody of a child or children in the event of a divorce. Consider hiring a seasoned family lawyer from Modern Law to help you understand the laws you are up against, the documents you need to have, and what to do to avoid hurting your chances of winning custody of your child.