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Custody arrangements: courts focus on the children, not parents

When Arizona spouses divorce, many issues will be discussed and decided. If a couple is the parents of children under the age of 18, child custody will be one of these issues. How custody, often called timeshare, will be determined can vary. The parents themselves can work out an agreement to present to a judge. Parents can engage a mediator to help them reach an agreement. As a last result, the couple can ask a judge to produce a timeshare arrangement based on input from each parent.

Whichever route is taken to reach an agreement, certain factors are always considered. These may include each parent's work schedule, the children's afterschool activities and the distance that each parent lives from one another and the children's school. Each timeshare arrangement is unique and individualized to each family. For example, children may live with one parent on the weekends and the other during weekdays. Or they might spend four nights with one parent and three nights with the other each week. Each custody schedule is tailored to the needs of the children.

Often, when children live with each parent regularly, both parents have physical custody. But even if physical custody is granted to only one parent, the children may still see the other parent regularly. Legal custody is a separate issue from physical custody and speaks to who makes decisions for the children on important issues, such as schooling and medical care. Judges like to see parents share legal custody, as they like to see both parents involved in the lives of the children. However, there are times when legal custody is not appropriate.

For example, if one parent has a recent criminal history, is facing criminal charges or is in the throes of substance abuse, neither physical nor legal custody may be warranted. A judge will make such a determination based on the facts presented. In all areas surrounding child custody, the judge will look to what is in the best interests of the child. In this manner, a custody decision is not made for or against either parent; rather, it's made in a way that supports the children. You can read more about custody agreements based on the children's best interests on our firm's webpage.

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