If you and your spouse have a child, or children, and decided to get a divorce, you need to be prepared for a court to weigh in on the custody of your children. The applicable legal standard (Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-403) utilized by Arizona family courts is “the best interests of the child.”

The “best interests” are analyzed under a set of factors relevant to your child’s physical and emotional well-being such as (i) your relationship with your child, (ii) the adjustment the child would need to make if custody were awarded to one spouse or the other, (iii) the mental and physical health of each spouse, (iv) if the child is old enough, their preference concerning custody, and (v) any history of domestic abuse.

Relationship With Your Child

The court has the right to examine the relationship between you and your child. The court could review the amount of time each parent claims they spend with the child, their involvement with the child’s extracurricular activities, etc. If your relationship is stable and consistent with your child, the court will view that favorably in its analysis.

Drastic Adjustment May Weigh Against Awarding Custody to You or Your Spouse

If you state that you are planning to move across the country once the divorce is finalized, such a relocation could hurt you when it comes to determining the best interests of your child. Courts typically prefer to try and make the home and school adjustment as painless as possible for the child. Of course, other factors (e.g., history of abuse by your soon-to-be-ex-spouse) could weigh in favor of granting you custody, regardless of a major move.

Child’s Preference (If They are Old Enough)

Your child, depending on their age and maturity level, could be asked by the court about parenting time and the living situation they prefer.

Good Health is Important

Your health, both mental and physical, is an important factor the court will consider when assessing which parent can handle custody. Your soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s health will also be examined, along with the health of your child.

History of Domestic Abuse Could Prohibit Custody

If there is documented evidence of domestic violence or child abuse, the court has the power to restrict contact between the child and the abusive parent, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-403.03.

Speak to an Attorney Today

If you are planning to get divorced and have children, contact the Law Office of Ronald L. Kossack immediately. Our legal team has extensive experience concerning custody disputes and are ready to help. Contact us to schedule a free, confidential consultation. We are reachable online or by calling 480-345-2652, or you can visit our office in Tempe.