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State of Arizona Definition of Legal Custody

David Cantor explains Legal Custody in Arizona:

 

The State of Arizona considers legal custody as the ability for parents to make major decisions about the health, religion, education, and overall welfare of their child.

Parents who make these decisions together are considered by Arizona law to have joint legal custody. This means that both a mother and father can decide whether their child receives an organ transplant, if his or her life depends on it, or whether the child will be raised Catholic, Protestant or in another religion, or whether the child will attend a public school or private school or be home-schooled. Both parents are allowed to have access to their child’s medical records, school records and any other information considered confidential.

Having joint legal custody is something that parents agree to during the dissolution of marriage proceedings and make this a part of the divorce settlement. Parents who are not married can also negotiate legal custody arrangements and parenting time for their children.

There are exceptions when it comes to legal custody. One parent may have sole custody of the child because the other parent either does not want to assume responsibility for the child or may not be physically, mentally or emotionally capable of making decisions for his or her child. In these cases, the parent with sole custody makes all the decisions for the child.

Arizona law requires parents who want joint legal custody of their child to create a “parenting plan.” This written document basically details the agreement parents reach on how they will raise their child and the scheduling of parenting time. Any agreement parents make must be filed with the court and presented before a judge. A judge decides parenting issues based on what is in the best interest of the child.

Legal custody differs from physical or joint custody. Physical or joint custody deals with where the child will live. The parent who takes care of the child each day and with whom the child spends the most time is considered to have physical custody of the child. The other parent can establish time to spend with his or her child. This was once called “visitation” and is now known as “parenting time.”

 

If you need help with a custody matter in Arizona, please call our office at (602) 691-6364 to speak with an attorney. You can also send us a confidential email too.

 

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