Arizona has set up a clear statutes and laws that govern child custody. These laws are found in the Title 25, Marital and Domestic Relations, of the Arizona Revised Statues. The custody laws are found specifically in Chapter 4 of this section. If you live in Arizona and need to create a child custody and visitation schedule, you need to acquaint yourself with these custody laws so that your schedule will be accepted by the court. Here are some of the highlights of the laws that affect how a custody and visitation schedule should be made.
1. The court is always looking for the child’s best interest. According to Title 25-403, the state of Arizona “shall determine custody, either originally or on petition for modification, in accordance with the best interests of the child.” This means that a mother and father need to make the custody and visitation schedule according to what the child needs, not just in a way that the parents want. The child should have sufficient time with both parents to further develop and maintain a positive relationship. This needs to be reflected in the schedule.
2. There are certain factors the court considers when deciding what is in the child’s best interest. If a custody case is contested, the court determines the parenting plan and custody schedule. The judge will base the decision on what is best for the child. These are the factors listed in Title 25-403 that the judge thinks about when deciding about custody: the wishes of the parents and the children; the interaction and interrelationship of the child to the parents, to the child’s siblings, and anyone else who affects the child’s best interest; the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community; the mental and physical health of everyone involved; which parent is more likely to allow the child to have meaningful and frequent contact with the other parent; if one parent has been the primary caregiver to the child; if a parent has reported false child abuse or problems; and if a parent has used coercion or duress to obtain a custody agreement. Parents must think about these issues and address them in their custody and visitation schedule.
3. Arizona law requires a parenting plan. Section 403 also clearly specifies that parents in Arizona must submit a thorough parenting plan to the court. This plan must include the parenting time of each parent in the form of a custody and visitation schedule. The parents should figure out a repeating cycle of custody and visitation and apply it to the year. They must also add in a holiday schedule, vacation time and special events.