David Cantor explains the new law for 2013 giving Fathers More Parenting Time in Arizona:
Arizona has enacted new laws that greatly impact parents’ ideas, as well as their legal arguments for parenting time and decision-making authority. What was previously entitled Joint/Sole Custody has now been termed Joint/Sole Legal Decision-Making. While the change in titles does not impact the outcome (Decision-making regarding educational, medical and religious matters for the children), what is decidedly new is the fact that Arizona now recognizes the presumption that Joint Legal Decision-Making (Joint Custody) is now in the best interest of the minor children. This means that both Mothers and Fathers, per the laws of Arizona, should be involved in the major decision-making process, and it will be a greater burden to prove that this joint process is not in the children’s best interests. This new law provides Fathers, who had typically worked outside of the home during the marriage, the same ability to be involved in the major life decisions of the minor children as a Stay-at-Home Mother who had previously made all of these major decisions during the marriage.
Similarly, Courts will now be obligated to start with the presumption that equal parenting time with both parents would be in the best interests of the minor children. This is a boon for Fathers in Arizona who previously believed that Arizona was a pro-Mother State in issues of Custody and Parenting Time. The Court cannot, per the law, presume that infants and toddlers are better suited to be in the care of the Mother due to their age and needs. This allows both parents to spend significant time with the minor children developing their own bonds, activities and parenting time rituals. Much like decision-making, the party arguing for reduced parenting time for the other parent will have to overcome the equal parenting time presumption, and faces a much harder battle moving forward.
Does this mean that parents would always receive equal parenting time and decision-making authority (custody)? Not necessarily, when issues of significant substance abuse, domestic violence, as well as instances where equal parenting time is not feasible (ex. Parents who live great distances apart) the Courts still have to think about the children’s best interests and can create a parenting plan to address those specific concerns or impediments. This parenting plan may be less than equal given the issues at hand. However, unless these concerns or impediments cannot be overcome, the Courts must first presume that equal parenting time would be in the children’s best interests.
If you have questions or concerns related to these upcoming legal changes, consulting with an experienced attorney is paramount. The Cantor Law Group offers free consultations where one of our experienced attorneys will discuss your specific matter and provide valuable information and support. If you would like to know more about these new custody laws, call us today at 602-254-8880 to talk with us about your case.