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Legal and physical custody in Arizona

When an Arizona court approves or creates a child custody plan, it engages in a careful balancing act that has as its end goal meeting the best interests of the children subject to the order. Custody is a multifaceted legal issue that involves not only where a child will live but also with whom he will visit and how his life decisions will be handled. This post on this Phoenix family law blog will look at the two basic forms of custody that an Arizona parent may be granted and how each directly impacts raising a child.

A Phoenix parent may be granted two different types of custody, legal and physical. Each is critically important in the life of a child. First, physical custody has to do with where the physical location of this child's upbringing will be located, and in Arizona that location can be solely with one parent or shared between the two.

If a parent is granted sole physical custody of a child then he becomes the primary custodial parent of the child. The child will live with the parent and may have periods of visitation with the non-custodial parent. Alternatively a child's parents may share physical custody and may each provide direct support to the youth when he is residing within their separate homes.

Legal custody of a child does not concern physical location but rather the power of a parent to make decisions about the child's upbringing. A parent with legal custody over their child can be involved in the decision-making process for choices like where the child will go to school and if the child will be introduced to religious or a faith-based system of beliefs. Like physical custody, legal custody can be shared or can be of the sole purview of one parent.

All child custody cases are different and the unique elements of each may result in very different custody outcomes for different families. As such, parents who are struggling with child custody matters may wish to work with a family law attorney to better understand their rights and the legal processes that control how their time with their kids will be determined.

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