There are many fathers in the Phoenix area who do not live with their children’s mother, but who nonetheless want to have a meaningful relationship with their children. One important component to accomplishing this goal is to obtain a child custody order, either by agreeing with the child’s mother or resolving the matter in court. Ideally, this order will give a father in Arizona liberal access to his children and the ability to make important decisions in that child’s life. Without such an order, a father may not be able to have the time and influence in his child’s life in order to form a meaningful relationship with the child.
For example, in order to be involved in his child’s life, a father in Arizona would want to strongly consider asking for joint legal custody (joint legal decision-making). While an order of joint legal decision-making does not guarantee equal parenting time, it does mean that on important issues, like education, healthcare and religion, the parents have equal decision-making authority.
Unless the court gives one parent or the other a final say-so on certain decisions, parents with joint legal decision-making must cooperate and come to a consensus about the basics of how they want their child raised and provided for. In practice, this means a father almost has to be more involved in his child’s life, as he will need the information and time to be able to make an informed decision about the child’s well-being.
Arizona law states that unless there is evidence to the contrary, joint legal decision-making, and substantial parenting time, are presumed to be in a child’s best interest. It is important to consult with a family law attorney regarding this issue before starting a case seeking joint legal decision-making.