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Understanding how child custody is determined

One of the most significant considerations that can impact parents during a divorce or separation is child custody which is why it can be helpful to understand how child custody decisions are made. Child custody decisions are focused on determinations related to the child's custody and care. The primary considerations are the child's well-being and safety. To achieve this, the court focuses on what is in the best interests of the child. To determine what that really is in a particular case, the court may consider a variety of factors.

Typically, a custody determination will be made which focuses on the capacity of the parents to parent, the circumstances of the parents or caregivers and the circumstances of the child. There are different types of custody arrangements and one parent, usually the custodial parent, may be awarded physical custody of the child; in this type of arrangement, parents typically share legal custody of the child. Alternately, the parents may share joint custody of the child which allows the child to spend an equal amount of time with each parent. Child custody determinations can be complex considerations which is why the court will examine a variety of factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child.

In Arizona, the health and safety of the child is carefully considered when arriving at child custody determinations. Courts are provided with general guidance and discretion to consider factors which may uniquely determine what is in the best interests of the child in each individual circumstance. In making its determination, the court may review family relationships; religious and cultural considerations; school and community impacts; and a variety of other factors.

Because it is the child's best interest that will resolve any child custody dispute, it can be important for parents and parties to a child custody dispute understand what this means. In general, achieving the best interests of the child focuses on seeking to ensure the child's happiness, security and overall health.

Understanding how the court resolves child custody disputes and makes child custody determinations can be useful to parents and caregivers engaged in the process and help everyone remain focused on the best interests of the child.

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