Our AZ Family Attorneys Explain The Importance Of Determining The Best Interests Of The Child For Custody Matters
If you are an Arizona parent with upcoming parenting time, legal decision making, and child support issues, you have probably heard of the term “ the best interests of the child.” The court, in all family law matters that involve a child, will make decisions that are in the best interests of the child. But what exactly does that mean?
The Factors That Make Up the Child’s Best Interests
The factors the judge will look at when deciding what is in the child’s best interests are actually laid out by Arizona Revised Statutes Section 25-403. They include:
- The past, present, and potential future relationship of the child with each parent.
- The physical and mental health of both parents and the child: If one parent is struggling with alcohol dependency, it is likely in the best interests of the child to be placed with the other parent. It doesn’t just have to be about avoiding a negative. If a child has a medical condition and one parent has a medical background, time with that parent will probably be in the child’s best interest.
- The child’s adjustment to home, school and community: Maybe one parent has to take a new job in a different school district. It may be better for that parent to visit the child on weekends so the child doesn’t have to switch schools, make new friends, etc…
- The child’s wishes, if they are old enough: This age is typically around 12, but depends on personal factors.
- If either parent will interfere with the parenting time of the other parent: The court prefers to place children with parents who don’t interfere with custody orders or disparage the other parent to the child. This factor isn’t considered in circumstances of domestic violence and abuse.
- Whether either parent abused family law procedures: If a judge finds that one parent has been purposely delaying matters to harass the other parent and rack up legal costs, the judge will consider that when deciding what is in the best interest of the child. One parent will also be viewed disfavorably if they used fraud or duress while negotiating any of the custody and visitation agreements.
The child’s relationship with each parent’s new partner, other children, etc.: The child may be particularly close with one of their stepsiblings, or their relationship may be more volatile.
Whether each parent has otherwise followed the law: If one parent hasn’t followed past custody orders, has been convicted of abuse or falsely reporting abuse, or violated any applicable laws in some other way, placing the child with that parent may not be in the child’s best interest.
Custody issues won’t be resolved based on one of these issues alone (except for domestic violence or abuse). The judge may also order one or both parents to take parental education programs.
Knowing The Best Interest Factors
Knowing the factors that contribute to the best interests of the child in custody matters gives you a road map of how to properly navigate custody issues. Many parents make the mistake of discussing asset division arguments and marital transgressions of the other parent to their child.
Arizona Family law judges know this causes stress and guilt for the child. Because other people’s relationships are considered when analyzing the child’s best interests, this is a reminder that you should only date people who are a good example for your child and get along with them well. The factors may also encourage you to avoid moving and be more civil with the child’s other parent.
The Next Step After Learning Child’s Best Interest
The next step after learning what factors contribute to your child’s best interests is proving that time with you serves those interests. Resolving all of the issues in your divorce through mediation- a quicker and less painful process than a divorce trial for you and your children- is one way to do that. If you and the child’s other parent are unable to resolve the issues through mediation, they will be resolved at trial. You will need to present evidence and defend your position on any questions of your parenting ability. Once parenting time and legal decision making orders have been made, they are difficult and expensive to modify. That is why you need to get it done right the first time.
Contact Experienced Family Law Attorneys In Phoenix
The best way to ensure that is to have a skilled and knowledgeable family law attorney on your side. Our Phoenix Family Law Firm offers free consultations so you can see what we can do for you, risk-free. Call My Arizona Lawyers to schedule your free consultation today. The consultation is 100% confidential. Our Phoenix Family Lawyers look forward to assisting you.
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