Divorcing or separating parents in Arizona need to determine child custody. For much of the 20th century, family courts believed that children belonged with their mothers, and judges almost always granted full custody to mothers. Cultural changes in the past decades, however, have shifted views, and family courts increasingly expect both parents to pursue shared custody.
Evolving social attitudes about fathers’ important roles as parents have contributed to larger numbers of men receiving more time with their children after the end of a parental relationship. The feminist ideologies that inspired more women to join the workforce and think of lives beyond motherhood also sowed the expectation that fathers would assume a parenting role after a divorce.
Logistical reasons, such as job and school schedules, typically mean that parents do not have completely equal time with their children. Although more mothers continue to have the majority of custodial time, fathers have still made great gains. A university study of divorce records concluded that 80 percent of mothers won sole custody in 1980. Almost three decades later in 2008, only 42 percent of mothers were given full custody.
When a person needs to work out a custody schedule with a former partner, a consultation with an attorney may provide important information about parental rights. A person could gain insights about legal and residential custody. Legal advice might also help a person negotiate a child custody agreement with the other parent. An attorney may act as a third-party representative to buffer a person from argumentative conversations with the other parent. Compromises suggested by an attorney might help the parties overcome sticking points in negotiations, like holidays, vacations and choice of school. Once the parents come to terms, an attorney may be able to write the formal agreement for the court.