If you are getting divorced and have children, one of the most contentious and emotionally difficult issues is custody. It is important to go into a divorce mediation or court hearing with an understanding of what to expect. 

Understanding Legal Custody

You and your spouse will need to agree on custody of your minor children. If you both can agree to joint custody, it will save time and expense. However, if you cannot agree, a court will ultimately decide custody.  

Joint custody involves both parents making big decisions jointly. These decisions include what schools they attend, what religion they practice when they can apply for a driver’s license, etc. such as what religion the child may practice or whether the child is old enough to date or drive a car. The day-to-day decisions should be consistent with a jointly agreed parenting plan.

If you or your spouse is awarded sole custody, you make important decisions concerning your child’s welfare independently. Having sole custody does not give you the right to relocate with your child. Arizona law requires a parent with sole custody to obtain permission from the other parent or the court before moving away with the child in another state, or more than 100 miles away from the state of Arizona. This rule applies to both sole and joint custody cases.

Parenting Plan Necessary

Under Arizona law, you are required to come up with a parenting plan with your spouse, if you agree to joint custody. The parenting plan is necessary because it must be submitted and reviewed by an Arizona court and made part of the decree of dissolution of marriage or custody order.

Your parenting plan needs to include the following provisions (this is not an exhaustive list of parenting plan requirements, just a sample):

  • Schedule including when each parent will have physical custody of the child, or children;
  • How the parents will be involved in caring for the child, or children;
  • How big decisions like the child’s education, health care, etc. will be made;
  • A method for resolving disputes such as speaking to a counselor, mediator, etc.; and
  • A schedule for periodically reviewing the parenting plan so necessary updated or revisions can be made

Contact a Tempe Child Custody Attorney Today

Child custody attorney Ronald L. Kossack has been representing Arizonans in divorce and child custody cases since 1993. He has represented thousands of clients and has served as the lead attorney in hundreds of jury trials. To speak with Mr. Kossack’s legal team about your divorce, contact us online or by calling 480-345-2652.