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Factors considered in a child custody dispute

For many people in Arizona who are going through a divorce, the issue of child custody can be the most nerve-racking. Every parent wants what is best for their child, and, in a divorce, each parent likely thinks that they are the best one to take care of the child and make important decisions - not their soon-to-be ex-spouse. So, when it comes to child custody disputes in Arizona, it is important to know what factors the court will take into consideration when making an ultimate decision on the issue.

First, as is the case throughout the country, it is important to remember that the overriding standard that the courts will look to when making a child custody decision is "the best interest of the child." But, there are many factors for the court to consider when determining what is best for the child. Courts will typically start with one crucial factor: Is the child old enough to meaningfully express a preference in the situation? If so, the child's preference may be given quite a bit of weight.

But, if the court decides that the child is not old enough to have a preference, many other factors will come into play. Courts will look at the relationships that existed between each parent and the child before the divorce was filed. Courts will also look into whether or not there are any mental or physical health problems with the parents that may impact the best interests of the child.

Beyond these factors, courts will also consider: maintaining stability in the home for the child; maintaining the same school attendance for the child; any history of abuse in the parent-child relationship; and any history of drug or alcohol abuse with either of the parents. There may be many other factors that the courts consider as well, which will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Source: Findlaw, "Child Custody," accessed September 25, 2017

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