As you begin addressing the numerous practicalities of an Arizona divorce, you and your ex will inevitably disagree about certain key matters. If you share children, then custody issues or the terms of your parenting plan could easily become the main point of contention.
Parents often disagree about the best way to split parenting time or to divide decision-making rights. The Arizona family court system encourages divorcing parents to cooperate, but you can ask a judge to intervene if you and your ex simply cannot reach an agreement about what to do for your parenting plan.
If a judge has to settle custody disagreements, what rules inform their decisions?
Custody matters focus on the kids, not the adults
Whenever a judge must make decisions regarding the division of parental rights and responsibilities, they must center the best interests of the children. Judges will confer with experts and also with the family to learn about the household circumstances in the needs of the children. The terms that they then outline in the parenting plan will reflect what they believe are in the best interests of the children.
Unless there are unusual family circumstances, a child’s best interests will include maintaining strong connections with both parents, receiving adequate medical attention, completing educational requirements and having access to necessary emotional and social support during this difficult time.
Judges want to see that parents are capable of meeting the children’s needs and of cooperating. They may give less parenting time to someone who is unstable and may also have an unfavorable view of a parent who tries to turn the children against the other.
When you fight with your ex, especially if you involve your children in your disagreements, you run the risk of making a judge think that you will put your own wishes ahead of what is best for the children, which may ultimately hurt your custody case.
Framing your argument properly is half the battle
When asking for specific custody terms, like the right to move to Texas after the divorce, keeping the focus on what is best for the children will improve your chances of success.
Instead of talking about how you have a social support network in the place where you want to move, focus your arguments on how the children can reconnect with their childhood best friends and extended family. Such an approach will likely receive a more positive reception from an Arizona family law judge than a selfish focus on what you want and what would be best for you personally.
When you understand what guides a judge’s custody decisions, it will be easier for you to make a compelling argument and secure the terms that matter the most to you. Learning more about the custody laws in Arizona will help you prepare for your day in court.