I get this question frequently from potential clients. Before January 1st of this year, Arizona certainly was a “Mother’s Rights” state. In the 2012 State Legislative session however, a series of reforms were passed placing emphasis on a rounded upbringing by two active parents. In essence, there has been an effort to do away with the idea of “custody” in favor of shared parenting time and joint legal decision making. These measures took affect in the beginning of this year.
Though some of the terminology has changed, the central questions surrounding your custody arrangements have not. In most cases however, it will be rare for a mother to answer those questions alone. Arizona has decided to recognize the philosphy that offering parents Joint Legal Decision-Making will be in the best interests of their children. This is a near reversal of decades worth of Arizona Law, and it WILL impact your family as you move forward.
This is certainly welcome news for fathers, many of whom are emerging from a system in which the deck was decidedly stacked against them. To their benefit, courts will no longer assume that infants and toddlers will be better off under a mother’s care due to young age. Today, both parents will be awarded as near an equal amount of parenting time as possible. Should one party argues that the court should reduce the other parent’s time with their children, the level of proof which must be demonstrated will be far, far higher.
Serious issues, such as ongoing alcohol or drug abuse, domestic violence, etc., supercede these new legislative requirements. In those cases, the courts can address specific problem areas in a parenting plan tailored to the circumstances of the case and aimed at providing a parenting arrangement that best provides for the needs of the child involved. similar arrangements can also be made in cases where a shared parenting arrangement is impossible due to distance or complex working schedules.
In short, the system is now different, but no less complicated. If anything, it may be even more so. Divorce and custody battles can be stressful and difficult for everyone involved. If you need help, I’m here. Call the Petersen Law Firm at 520-631-3286 to schedule your free consultation.
Information should not be construed as legal advice nor the formation of an attorney/client relationship