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* LEGAL DECISION MAKING  & PARENTING TIME INFORMATION *

LEGAL DECISION MAKING (formerly known as CUSTODY)

As of January 1st, 2013, the Child "Custody" laws were changed to state that one (sole) or both (joint) parents are awarded "Legal Decision Making" and both parents are awarded "Parenting Time". The Child Support continues to be a separate issues therefore, the type of legal decision making has no bearing whatsoever in calculating the Child Support amount.

Sole Legal Decision Making is when one parent has full legal responsibility for the child(ren) and the parents share in parenting time. Even though a parent has sole legal decision making, this does not allow them to alter unilaterally any court-ordered parenting time.

Joint Legal Decision Making is when both parents are supposed take the responsibility for making legal decisions regarding the child(ren) and for raising the child(ren).

Things to keep in mind when considering Joint: 1) It doesn't really have anything to do with time or money; 2) It does not insure anything or prevent anything (Does NOT insure that both parties maintain residences in Arizona and does NOT prevent Child Support from being ordered ~ see #1); 3) It may require BOTH parentsí signatures on school enrollment forms and/or permission slips for field trips or special programs as well as some medical treatments (NOT either/or but BOTH); 4) although Arizona Statue does not require it, some counties may still require the "Parenting Time Plan" be signed by both parents in order to be awarded Joint Legal Decision Making and in Pima County, they changed the rule to state that there is an additional fee for "joint"; 5) In most cases, joint custody means a lot of contact with the other parent regarding the children; 6) In the case of joint parenting time(50/50), technically, neither parent may be able to claim the minor children as head of household regarding income tax preparation.

PARENTING TIME INFORMATION

Parenting time is now awarded to both parents. Both parents are to agree to a parenting time plan. If they do not agree, each shall submit a plan to the court. There are many conditions that are to be listed in the parenting plan but the basic idea is that it is in the best interest of the minor child(ren) to have quality, substantial and continuing contact with both parents. In extreme cases, some restrictions may be applied to prevent the child(ren) from physical or emotional danger. Otherwise, the general idea is that both parents have equal rights to have both time and a quality relationship with their child(ren) although no where in the law does that mean each having 50% of the time.

LEGAL DECISION MAKING & PARENTING TIME
DID-U-KNOW? FAQ

  • Children have no legal rights to decide who they want to primarily live with. The law simply says that the judge MAY take a child's wishes into consideration to decide legal decision making & parenting time. Therefore, it would be up to the judge regarding the amount of power of the child's wishes.