As this blog has discussed previously, fathers who live in Phoenix, Arizona, but not in the same home as their child’s mother, generally speaking have the exact same rights to custody as the child’s mother. In other words, courts in Arizona are going to look at what the best interests of the child are when it comes to deciding custody and should not automatically presume the mother is going to be the best custodial parent.
In this respect, there may be situations in which a child has a strong desire to live with his or her father. There are a number of reasons for this, but generally speaking, the child deserves to be listened to and, depending on the circumstances, also deserves to have his wishes respected.
However, it is important to note that, unlike other states, Arizona law does not allow a minor child of any age to unilaterally decide where he or she wants to live. Nevertheless, the law does require a judge to take the child’s wishes in to consideration when making his or her custody and parenting time orders. How much weight the child gets in the judge’s eyes will depend on how old the child is as well as how capable the child seems of making important decisions like where to live.
The reason this is important information for fathers is to have is that, as part of their fathers’ rights, they can ask that courts give appropriate consideration to the wishes of their son or daughter. If their child wants to live with them, fathers and their family law attorneys should not hesitate to point that fact out to the judge deciding custody.