you're in the midst of a divorce involving minor children, or you're considering a divorce in the near future, things have
changed in Arizona. Custody has been the problem word in divorces for many years, because the term appears to mean "possession"
meaning who has the child and when; legal practitioners know it doesn't mean that.
Custody is mostly used in the legal arena to define who can make key life's decision about a child.
So the term "Joint Custody" never meant that both parents would have equal time with the child, rather it only meant
that both parents had to cooperate in making key decision affecting the child's educational, health, and religious decisions.
The time that a parent spent with his
or her child was always called "visitation" which has negative
connotations, and the good news is that this is all changing. Gone are the terms "Custody" and "Visitation."
Now in Arizona, parents have to start thinking about
this all differently. Now the court will have nothing to do with the word custody, but rather decide upon the allocation
of "Parent's Decision Making Ability" and "Parenting Time." This would include what the law defines
as significant decision responsibilities (a lot like the old custody decisions), and "Parenting Time" (a lot like
the old visitation).
How does this affect
(1) the new law will likely not cut down on
litigation, because by and large the big issues will remain big issues, they're just called something different;
(2) cutting down the time limit by which to do get a custody decision done
will only hurt parents that are married to people with significant psychological issues (no time for a full psychiatric custody
evaluation, leaving an untrained Guardian Ad Litem at the mercy of very likable parents with Borderline Personality Disorders,
(3) the new law will hopefully cut out those
parents seeking more time with the children only to avoid paying support, as the right of first refusal is now provided by
statute, and if your spouse leaves the care to someone else, you can step in and argue for the child back; and
(4) Judges have now leaned to suggesting a more common 50-50 parenting time
schedule to cut down litigation.
In all these are big changes,
and I'm only mentioning a few here in this article. Feel free to contact me for more information.