By: Arizona Family Law Attorneys

What Are Arizona’s Best Interests of the Child Standards?

In family law cases involving divorce, child custody, visitation rights, and child support, the highest priority under Arizona family law is the ‘best interests’ of the children. If you are facing divorce proceedings or a child custody case, it is important that you understand the basics of Arizona’s best interest of the child standards. With a more comprehensive understanding of these standards, you will have a clearer idea of your standing in the legal case and what you need to prove to a family law judge to win custody.

Arizona’s best interests of the child standards include the following:

  • Each parent’s desires for legal decision-making regarding their children.
  • Each parent’s stated intentions of supporting the continued relationship of the other parent with their child.
  • How close of a relationship the child has with each parent and how accustomed they are to each parent’s daily routines, work schedules, and educational pursuits.
  • The child’s connection with their local community, friends, school, and extended family or blood relatives.
  • The emotional and familial bond between each parent and their child in the past, present, and hopeful future.
  • The personal wishes of the child.
  • The physical and mental health of each parent as well as the child.
  • The relationships and bonds between children and their siblings or half-siblings.
  • Whether or not one parent has made false accusations against the other parent in an attempt to either sway the court’s opinion of that parent or poison the child against the other parent.
  • Whether or not the child has any special needs.
  • Whether or not there were any allegations or history of child neglect, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, or emotional abuse.

Under these best interest guidelines, Arizona family law courts will attempt to determine the most optimal care for the child. In some cases, one or both parents may be compelled to present evidence of their qualifications as a parent or allegations against the other parent. Things can go from simple to complicated very fast in child custody legal matters, and it is strongly recommended that you retain professional child custody lawyers to represent your personal interests in case of a legal battle over child custody. Our law firm has extensive experience representing clients in child custody cases, and we would be proud to represent you as you pursue the most optimal outcome for Your case. Please contact us today to schedule a case evaluation with our legal team.

Does Arizona Favor Mothers in Child Custody Cases?

Under Arizona law, the state does not favor parents based on their gender or the gender of their child. In this way, Arizona is an equal right state for child custody cases following the dissolution of marriage.

That said, many people enter a child custody case with the presumption that mothers are prioritized when it comes to child custody and child support. Ultimately, it is not supposed to be this way. If you believe your rights as a father have been violated in some way by the mother or their legal representatives, you must seek professional legal counsel to represent your interests in these legal matters.

What Are Your Rights as a Father Following Divorce in Arizona?

In Arizona, the father has the legal right to seek full custody, joint custody, or reduced child custody following a divorce – and the same goes for the mother. Additionally, fathers have the right to parenting time and visitation, even if the other parent has sole legal decision-making authority.

Only a legal parent has child custody rights in Arizona. A stepparent who has not adopted their stepchild does not have the same legal rights to custody or visitation that their ex-spouse had. An unmarried father does not have automatic child custody rights and must first prove paternity. Married fathers have the presumption of paternity.

What is the Presumption of Paternity?

Under Arizona law, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if he and the mother are married within ten months preceding the birth of a child. If this presumption of paternity is contested, a family law court may order a paternity test to prove whether a man is the biological father of a child.

With a presumption of paternity, a father is allowed to seek sole custody, shared custody, or no custody.

Is it Enough Just to Have Your Name on the Child’s Birth Certificate?

In some circumstances, it is enough to have your name on the child’s birth certificate. However, this does not always hold up if the father’s biological paternity of the child comes into question. If paternity is contested, the birth certificate may not matter for much. A paternity test may be in order.

Does Arizona Favor Joint or Sole Custody Arrangements?

Arizona strongly prefers shared legal custody of children following a divorce. If possible, and if the facts surrounding the case allow it, a family law judge would strongly prefer that the two parents enjoy shared custody of their children.

However, this is sometimes not possible. In some child custody cases, the responsibilities of one parent may make them unable to be an equal caregiver for their children. In other child custody cases, it would be illogical and unwise for the parents to share equal custody, such as in instances where there was child abuse or neglect or one parent has substance abuse issues.

Does an Unmarried Father Have Any Legal Rights to Child Custody?

In unmarried relationships that end in separation, the mother doesn’t have to do anything in order to obtain child custody. An unmarried father, on the other hand, must prove their paternity in order to obtain child custody. Without proving their paternity, unmarried fathers have no child custody rights. Once paternity is proven, an unmarried father has the same rights to custody and parenting time that their divorced counterparts have.

Schedule Your Initial Consultation with Our Law Firm Today

Child custody legal Matters can be complicated even in the most optimal circumstances. In less ideal circumstances, child custody legal battles can turn vicious and emotionally exhausting. To ensure that your legal rights are properly protected, it is highly advisable that you retain professional legal counsel from experienced child custody attorneys.

The legal team of Arizona Family Law Attorneys has years of experience representing child custody cases across our great state. To schedule your initial case review, please contact our Phoenix-based law offices at 480-448-0608