Legal Decision-Making Explained
In Arizona, legal decision-making still means legal custody and can be either sole or joint, depending on how the Court sees fit. When awarding legal decision-making, the Court will consider factors such as parental behavior during the proceedings (intentionally misleading the court or purposely creating delays affect final decisions), as well as parental use of drugs and/or alcohol, especially within the preceding year.
Sole Legal-Decision Making
When sole legal decision-making is decided upon, only one parent has the right to make important decisions for the child; however, this doesn’t mean that decisions are one-sided, as both parents may discuss the options at hand. What sets sole legal-decision making apart is the fact that only the parent who has been given it will have the final say on the matters.
There are different ways that sole legal decision-making can be awarded to a party: either by the agreement of both parents or as a decision made by the court based off of a number of factors. For example, the court may order sole legal decision-making if there has been a history of domestic violence or abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, or other circumstances that cause the court to question the fitness of one of the parents. The court may even award sole legal decision-making in a situation where both parties are fit, but unable to work with one another.
Joint Legal-Decision Making
When joint legal decision-making is ordered, both parents have an equal right to make decisions for their child. In some cases, however, the court may order that only one parent will be able to decide certain issues regarding the child.
The awarded time that parents receive while providing their legal decision-making is now referred to as “parenting time.” As it applies to parental rights in Arizona, parenting time refers to the court-approved schedule that each parent has with the child(ren) – a parenting plan that allows for shared legal decision-making in the best interest of the child(ren). To accomplish this, the amendment requires that each parent submit a detailed parenting plan to the Court that includes information such as how they wish to handle visitation changeovers and how they will communicate about the child(ren).
Parenting time was created with the belief that only parents know what is best for their child(ren), and that litigation may actually work to complicate matters further. Furthermore, it is believed that assistance, such as divorce mediation, can help parents construct favorable and feasible parenting plans on their own – ultimately working through conflict to create a platform for trust, respect and circumstances that are in the best interest of the child(ren).
With over 30 years of experience in divorce and family law, Simon Law Group’s Tempe divorce attorney can streamline and clarify any process concerning legal decision-making and parenting time. For 24-hour professional, legal assistance, or to set up a free consultation with a Simon Law Group family attorney, please call 480-745-2450 or contact our firm online.]]>