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Child Custody

The Top 5 Things to Know About Arizona’s Child Custody Laws

By January 25, 2024June 17th, 2024No Comments

Arizona’s child custody laws can be complex and confusing for those going through a divorce or separation. To help families better understand their rights and obligations, the San Tan Family Law office has put together a list of the top five things to know about Arizona’s child custody laws.

Legal Custody and Physical Custody

It’s important to understand the difference between legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions regarding a child’s upbringing, such as education, religion, and healthcare. Physical custody refers to the actual physical care and control of the child. A parent with sole legal custody has the right to make decisions without consulting the other parent, while joint legal custody requires both parents to make decisions together. Physical custody can be either joint or sole, with the child living primarily with one parent or splitting time between both.

The Best Interests of the Child Standard

Arizona law requires that any custody arrangement must be in the best interests of the child. This means that the court will consider the child’s relationship with each parent, the child’s stability and safety, the parents’ ability to cooperate and co-parent, and any other relevant factors in making a custody determination. A parent’s own wants and needs are secondary to the best interests of the child.

Mediation and Collaborative Law

Arizona encourages families to resolve custody disputes through alternative methods such as mediation and collaborative law, rather than through a court battle. Mediation allows the parents to work with a neutral third party to come to a mutually agreed upon custody arrangement, while collaborative law involves both parents and their attorneys working together to resolve custody issues. These alternative methods can often result in a more amicable and less stressful resolution for both the parents and the child.


If a parent wants to relocate with the child, they must first obtain the court’s permission or the consent of the other parent. If the other parent objects, the court will consider the impact of the move on the child’s relationship with both parents, the reasons for the move, and any other relevant factors in determining whether to allow the relocation.

Modification of Custody Orders

Custody orders are not set in stone and can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances. For example, a change in a parent’s work schedule, a move to a new location, or the emergence of evidence of domestic violence can all be grounds for a modification of a custody order. If you are seeking a modification of a custody order, it is important to work with an experienced family law attorney to ensure that your rights and the best interests of your child are protected.

Arizona’s child custody laws can be complex, but understanding the basic concepts of legal and physical custody, the best interests of the child standard, alternative dispute resolution methods, relocation, and modification of custody orders can help families navigate the process with greater ease. At San Tan Family Law, our experienced attorneys are here to guide you every step of the way and ensure that your rights and the best interests of your child are protected.

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