People often get confused about Custody laws in Arizona.  Essentially there are two different types of custody: “Legal Custody” and “Physical Custody”.

Legal Custody encompasses only the parents’ right to have input in to decisions regarding the child(ren)’s health, education, and religion.  Legal Custody has nothing to do with where the child(ren) live and what parenting time they will have with each parent.

Physical Custody is referred to as “Parenting Time” in Arizona.  Their are parenting time guidelines that the Court will use in determining what schedule is appropriate.  However, special circumstances may warrant a deviation from these guidelines.  One issue that may warrant a deviation is the logistics involved in following a proposed parenting plan. (ie the parties’ geographic distance from each other; Their respective work schedules; etc.)

The Court must consider the following factors in determining “Legal Custody”.

1. The wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to custody.

2. The wishes of the child as to the custodian.

3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest.

4. The child’s adjustment to home, school and community.

5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.

6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent. This paragraph does not apply if the court determines that a parent is acting in good faith to protect the child from witnessing an act of domestic violence or being a victim of domestic violence or child abuse.

7. Whether one parent, both parents or neither parent has provided primary care of the child.

8. The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding custody.

9. Whether a parent has complied with chapter 3, article 5 of this title.

10. Whether either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect under section 13-2907.02.

11. Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse as defined in section 25-403.03.