In the last few years, Arizona courts have avoided awarding legal decision making to one parent over another after a divorce. By giving both parents the shared responsibility of legal decision making, it is hoped that both parents will have to cooperate with one another, work together, and communicate in a way that is more healthy for the children.
There are certain circumstances under which the judge will grant sole legal decision making to one parent over the other. These include:
- 1. Significant history of domestic abuse.
Generally, this abuse can be carried out against a former partner, you the spouse, or the children. Leading up to the divorce, spouses should do everything they can to document the abuse, in order to give further proof of the conduct to bolster their case.
- 2. Abuse of alcohol or drugs
Again, documentation is critical and can significantly help your case when you are trying to prove that your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is abusing drugs or alcohol. These facts will demonstrate a clear danger in allowing your spouse have equal decision making power of your children, and can lead the judge to award you sole legal decision making.
- 3. Continued unreasonability making for difficulty co-parenting.
Maybe you have been trying to co-parent with your ex, but he or she has been unreasonable, uncooperative, or otherwise making it challenging and/or stressful to co-parent. Maybe they refuse to follow the parenting plan as laid out with the court, badmouth you in front of your kids, or use your children as messengers. While no one infraction will be enough to convince the courts, a series of unreasonable behavior may be.
If this difficulty is one-sided, especially, you can build a case to show the courts that your ex has no interest in amicable co-parenting, or in doing what is best for the children.
If none of these situations apply to you and your ex, then there are many things you can do to ensure amicability during the co-parenting phase. Remember, your ex is still your children’s parent, and no matter how much you may now dislike them, you should do all you can to make things work smoothly for your children.
- ● Ask for professional help to work out differences
- ● Work with a mediator to ensure both opinions are heard
- ● Create a shared co-parenting calendar
- ● Remind yourself (again and again) that you’re doing what is best for your children
Consider our resource The ABCs of Getting Your Child Through Divorce for more ways to help your children through a time that is as difficult for them as it is for you–if not more.
Do you think that you have a case for sole legal decision making? Share the details of your case with us so that we can consider your options and discuss them with you.
Contact the offices of Simon Law Group to discuss this and many other family law issues, and how we can work with you to resolve them.]]>