Child Custody in Arizona is split into two separate parts: Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time.

Legal-Decision Making pertains to the ability to make major decisions pertaining to the minor child, including, but not limited to, medical treatments, choice of health practitioners, choice of schools, choice of extracurricular activities or choice of religious practice.

The following are common legal decision-making orders entered by the court:

Joint Legal Decision Making authority for both parents (parties are required to confer with one another and reach agreements together)
Joint Legal Decision Making authority for both parents, while one parent has final decision making authority (if the parties cannot reach agreements)
Sole Legal Decision Making authority for one parent
History of domestic violence and a history of DUI or drug convictions in the past twelve months may be a factor in determining an award for joint or sole legal-decision making.

Parenting Time refers to the physical custody arrangement between the parents and the minor child. Parenting time schedules can vary significantly depending on the parties’ circumstances, and are determined on a case by case basis. An essentially equal parenting time plan may work better for parents who live in close proximity if the minor child is of school age, while in another case, the parties may prefer to designate one parent as the primary residential parent and reasonable parenting time to the other parent.

The Court uses several “best interest of the child” factors to determine the legal decision making and parenting time orders. (A.R.S. 25-403) While joint legal decision making and equal parenting time is presumed to be in a child’s best interest, other factors may contribute to a more restrictive parenting time plan or no legal decision making authority for one parent.

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