Sharing custody is a hassle that Arizona family court feels is necessary, as it’s in the best interests of the child to grow up with both parents. If you strongly believe joint custody with your co-parent will be harmful to your child, it’s possible you have a case for sole custody. Here’s everything you need to know to determine whether you have grounds for full custody of your child.
Arizona Custody: Decision-Making Rights vs. Parenting Time
First, it’s important to understand how Arizona determines custody. In 2013 Arizona changed the terminology to decision-making rights and parenting time. Decision-making rights dictates who has the right to make legal decisions about the child’s health, care, and upbringing, and parenting time determines where the child spends their time. Even in joint custody situations, both of those may not be precisely equal. For instance, even when both parents have decision-making rights, one parent may have the tie-breaking vote if they can’t come to a decision together. Likewise, the child may spend more time with one parent than the other, if, say, that parent’s residence is more convenient for school.
Making Decisions in the Best Interests of the Child
But how does the court decide how decision-making rights and parenting time is divided? Arizona family law dictates that all decisions should be made according to what is in the best interests of the child, rather than what is better for the parents. Arizona is also operating under an assumption that it is in the best interests of the child to maintain good relationships with both parents. This is, of course, unless there is a strong reason as to why it’s not beneficial, or even could be harmful. When we start considering that is when we start getting into whether you have grounds for full custody of your child.
Deciding Whether You Have Grounds for Full Custody
When it comes down to it, getting Arizona family court to agree to full custody will require a strong case that full custody with one parent is best for the child. Typically, that requires that the other parent fall into at least one of the following categories:
- A long distance parenting relationship, where the parent is unable to perform their parental duties
- A history of mental health issues that could potentially compromise the parent’s ability to care safely for their child
- A history of alcohol or substance abuse that could endanger the child if the parent indulges when they have care of the child
- A criminal history that would cause concern about the parent’s ability to care safely for their child, or a current sentence that would make the parent unable to perform their duties as a parent
- A history of abuse, either domestic or abuse of the child, that could put the child in danger
- Abandonment of the family or child
In the one of these situations, you may have grounds for full custody of your child. Keep in mind that Arizona courts do not take these rulings lightly, and will only aware full custody when there is a strong case to show it’s in the child’s best interests.
The Importance of a Good Family Law Attorney
As you can probably imagine, it’s not enough just to have the grounds for full custody. You will need to make a strong case before the judge, demonstrating beyond a doubt that it’s in your child’s best interests if you have sole decision-making rights, parenting time, or both. To find out if you have grounds for full custody, and to start building a strong case, contact the Simon Law Group today.