The state of Arizona references specific standards for how the courts address custody, parenting time and decision-making. Known as the “best interests of the child” standards, these guidelines help judges determine the fitness of each parent seeking custody while prioritizing the health and well-being of the child.
What do state courts examine when making custody-related decisions?
Arizona courts often examine each parent’s existing relationship with the child before deciding where the son or daughter should live. A judge may also consider the physical and mental health of both parties. Whether a child has any siblings, and if so, where those siblings live, may factor into final decisions as well.
Depending on the age of the child involved in the custody proceedings, his or her own wishes about where to live may also come into play. Research shows that children who are old enough to have a say in these matters may benefit in the long run from voicing their opinions. In addition, they may be more likely to thrive and adapt well to new custody arrangements.
Arizona courts consider whether either parent seeking custody has a history of domestic violence or child abuse. If one parent made false allegations of domestic violence or child abuse, this may affect final decisions.
The likelihood of each parent fostering the shared child’s relationship with the other parent may also factor in. However, this may not apply in situations where child abuse or domestic abuse may have occurred.
If one parent caused the court system unnecessary hardship or expense during custody proceedings, this may hurt that parent’s chances of walking away with custody.
Joint custody benefits
Unless there is a clear reason for taking away a mother or father’s parental responsibilities, courts may favor joint custody arrangements. Research shows that children whose parents share custody often benefit from having both parents active in their lives.