If you’re getting divorced in Arizona, you may already know that this is a hard state in which to get primary custody. Arizona tries to be equally fair to both parents, so the courts approach every custody arrangement with an assumption that both parents deserve equal opportunities to be in their children’s lives. The preference is to divide custody as equally as possible.
In Arizona, custody is split into two different categories, decision making rights (legal custody) and parenting time (physical custody). Decision making rights covers the ability to have the final say in subjects such as health and education, while parenting time is the amount of time that your child lives with you. Arizona tries to split both of these things as equally as possible, but the court’s main objective is the child’s well-being, so there are times when primary custody is the best choice.
Here are six situations where you may be able to get primary custody in Arizona.
- In cases of abuse. If your co-parent has a history of being an abuser, the court should be fairly willing to award you primary custody. You will need to prove the history of abuse if it’s not well-documented in their criminal history. Your best bet is to consult with a family law attorney about building a strong case to be presented in court.
- If there’s a history of substance abuse. If your co-partner has a history of substance abuse, either alcohol or controlled substances, you can make a strong case for their inability to safely perform their job as a parent. Once again, it’s important to work with your attorney to make a strong case and convince the court that primary custody is in your child’s best interests.
- If the parent’s mental health issues will endanger the child. If your co-parent has a history of mental health issues, especially if they’re likely to affect his or her ability to care for a child, the Arizona courts will be less likely to give them many parenting rights. If you can make a strong case for the best interests of your child, you’re likely to be awarded custody in a case like this.
- When there’s a criminal history. If your co-parent has a criminal history, that should be enough to put doubt on their ability to act in the child’s best interests and fulfill their role as a parent. This is especially true if the parent is currently incarcerated or facing a long-term incarceration.
- In cases of abandonment. If your co-parent hasn’t been in contact for six months or more, you’ll have a pretty easy time making a case for abandonment. Abandonment is another factor that the court will consider when awarding both legal and physical custody.
- If the other parent is long-distance. Sometimes life just gets in the way of both parents sharing custody 50/50. For instance, if your co-parent is moving away, it won’t be possible for your child to spend half their time with each of you without major upheavals in their life. Since the court tries to act in the best interest of the child, one parent will usually be granted primary custody.
Arizona’s child custody laws operate on the assumption that most children benefit by having both parents equally present in their lives, but this isn’t always the case. If you feel like there are reasons why having primary custody would be in your child’s best interests, you can work together with your attorney to build your case. For more information about how to get primary custody in Arizona, contact the Simon Law Group, PLLC, today.