When Arizona parents of young children divorce, child custody becomes a major concern. Who will have primary custody of the child? How much time should the other parent be able to spend with the child? These questions can lead to an intense fight, but it doesn’t have to. Child custody is not a contest but rather an arrangement that helps both parents and their child transition into their new life post-divorce as smoothly as possible.
Legal custody conveys the right to make certain types of decisions that can affect the child. These can include religion, health care, education, and other similar matters. In most situations, this is shared equally between the parents, and in such a case it is referred to as joint legal custody.
Physical custody is likely the term that most people are familiar with. It refers to the child’s living arrangements and with whom the child will stay for most of the time. In some cases, parents will be awarded joint physical custody, as in when the parents remain amicable and they live relatively near each other as well as near the child’s school and friends.
In many other cases, one parent is awarded primary physical custody after a divorce, and the other parent is given visitation rights. This reflects the view of family court judges that it is in the best interests of the child to have liberal exposure to both parents. There are a variety of schedules to choose from when developing comprehensive parenting plan.
Unfortunately, there can be situations where a traditional physical custody and visitation schedule is not feasible. This can be the case, for example, when one of the parents has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse. This can lead to the other parent being awarded sole physical custody, with the abusive parent perhaps being given limited and supervised visitation rights.