It’s regrettable, but it’s not always possible to keep the other parent actively involved in the child’s life. There are many instances where protecting the best interests of the child means limiting their contact with the other parent. Arizona courts strive to preserve the rights of both parents to raise their children. However, when the child’s health and safety are in danger, judges in Arizona will award full custody to one parent.
The Effect of January 2013
In January 2013, new statutes went into effect that changed the way custody was decided in Arizona. Many people mistakenly believe that the changes were semantic, but the fact is, the changes gave parents more power to protect their children. The changes clarified the differences between sole custody and joint custody, sole legal decision making, etc.
Either parent can pursue sole legal decision making authority of their children. This allows the parent to have complete, absolute decision making over medical treatment, educational opportunities, religious affiliations, housing, etc. However, the courts will only grant this if there are legitimate reasons to deny the other parent’s involvement in these critical facets of the child’s upbringing.
Legitimate Grounds for Full Custody of a Child in Arizona
- Drug or Alcohol Abuse. The courts consider drug and alcohol abuse to be a significant detriment to a child’s health and welfare. You can present evidence of DUI convictions, arrests for drunk and disorderly conduct, enrollment in drug rehabilitation programs, etc. to establish the presence of a drug or alcohol problem.
- Child Abuse. Four children each day die from child abuse in the United States. In 2017, Arizona had a child abuse rate of 6.1 per 1,000 children and a total of 76,143 reports of child abuse. Arizona courts are eager to end the danger children face at home. You can use police reports, photographs/video, school records, and counseling records to establish a history of child abuse.
- Criminal Activity. The courts can and do deny child custody to parents who are incarcerated or have a history of violent crime. If a parent has a history of run-ins with the law, the court is likely to grant sole physical custody and sole decision making authority to the other parent.
- Domestic Violence. Similar to child abuse, Arizona considers a history of domestic violence to be a significant danger to children. This abuse does not have to be directed at the child for the court to consider it a risk. The petitioning parent can submit police reports, medical records, and other documentation as evidence of domestic violence.
- Mental Health Problems. There are some mental health problems that the court will consider a hazard to the child. While in some instances, they may consider depression, PTSD, and mood disorders, this requirement generally refers to more serious psychotic issues, such as schizophrenia.
When Circumstances Change
People change, and situations evolve, especially when a parent is motivated to restore their relationship with a son or daughter. Drug and alcohol rehab can help an addict beat their addiction, prison programs can reform a convict, and mental health problems can be treated. If there is a significant change in circumstances, the non-custodial parent can petition the court to modify the custody orders. However, the courts will likely request substantial evidence that the parent has changed their ways and no longer poses a risk to the child’s health and safety.
We invite you to contact Simon Law Group at 480-745-2450 for more information about grounds for full custody of a child in Arizona. We are always ready to help our clients protect their children from harm.