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Understanding legal custody and visitation in Arizona

A couple that shares a child, but is no longer together as a couple, will have to decide how to deal with certain issues. These include legal decision making, joint legal decision making, sole-legal decision making and a parenting time plan. The amount of time parents spend with their children frequently comes up in dispute, so it is important to know how the state of Arizona handles it.

Once referred to as legal custody, legal decision making accords a parent the ability to make the non-emergency decisions on behalf of the child. This includes decisions regarding the child's religion, education, health care and personal care. This does not involve any routine issues that must be resolved, such as what foods the child will eat, what time to go to bed, what television programs are appropriate and other mundane factors.

Parents in the state are able to have either sole authority or joint authority to make decisions. With joint custody, the parents will both have legal decision-making authority and combine to make any major decision that involves the child. If it is sole legal authority, one parent has the ability to make the decisions on the child's behalf. When the parenting plan is implemented, the decision will be made as to which type of custody arrangement the parents will have to adhere to.

Visitation rights are encompassed in a parenting plan. This plan will schedule the amount of time a parent will get to spend with the child and when this will occur. There are numerous different options for parenting plans. This can be beneficial because it sets the times that parents will have the child and when they will not, so it can make an effort to tamp down on the disagreements that frequently arise. This also helps the children adapt after the parents have parted ways.

It can be difficult to navigate child custody, legal custody, visitation and who will be the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent, when a couple shares a child. Having help from an attorney experienced in child custody is useful when hashing out these issues.

Source: Az.gov, "Parenting Time and Legal Decision Making," accessed on March 21, 2016

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