Child custody concerns are understandably important for any parent, which is why it is necessary for parents to understand how to protect their rights. In general, child custody is determined based on what is in the best interest of the child. There are different types of custody arrangements, so it is useful for parents to be familiar with each one.
Legal custody of the child must be determined and refers to which parent has the right and responsibility to make important decisions for the child. Important decisions can include education, medical and religious decisions that must be made for the child. Legal custody can be joint or sole. When one parent has sole legal custody, the parent will make important decisions for the child alone. However, if the parents share joint legal custody of the child, they must work together to make important decisions for the child. Each parent is responsible for day-to-day decisions for the child when the child is in their care.
While joint custody is not explicitly preferred by Arizona law, it is generally preferred to sole custody when possible. Physical custody can also be joint or sole, and if one parent has sole physical custody of the child, the other parent will likely be granted visitation with the child. When parents share physical custody of the child, a custody schedule will be developed. A parent with sole custody, however, is not permitted to move away with the child without the family court's permission based on a variety of considerations.
In Arizona, absent circumstances dictating otherwise, child custody arrangements seek to ensure the child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents, which is viewed as being in the best interest of the child. Because of the important nature of child custody arrangements, it is helpful for parents to understand the different types of custody arrangements available and how the best interest of the child is determined by the family court.
Source: FindLaw, "Arizona Child Custody: Overview," Accessed March 5, 2018