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Do Arizona fathers have the same custody rights as mothers?

Sometimes, divorcing parents get a lot of advice about what they can expect with regard to child custody. One bit of "helpful" advice a father may hear is that favor the mother and will generally award her custody. But is that really true? Are fathers' rights almost nonexistent?

Fortunately, no. In the past, courts usually gave physical custody to the mother, but that has changed. Today, Arizona courts are gender-neutral in custody cases and will look to many different factors to determine the custody arrangement. These factors may include the parents' relationship with the child and where each parent lives in relation to the child's school. The most important consideration is the child's best interest. If both parents have a good relationship with the child, live close to school and if living with both parents would be in the child's best interest, the court may grant joint custody.

This assumes, of course, that both parents want joint custody. Sometimes, one parent has a job that requires long hours while the other parent works less, or one parent has to travel often while the other travels infrequently. In such cases, it might be best for the child to live with one parent more than the other and both parents may agree to this.

It should be noted that in cases where there is evidence of domestic violence or substance abuse by a parent, the Court will most likely not allow the child to live with the alleged abuser or addict. It is always the best interests of the child, not of the parents, that courts consider most when making a custody determination. Each divorce is unique and may call for a unique resolution; an Arizona attorney with family law experience can provide assistance.

Source: Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-403.03, accessed Sept. 16, 2014

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