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Understanding joint legal custody

On Behalf of | May 3, 2018 | Family Law

There are different types of child custody arrangements Arizona parents can have when they decide to separate. Joint Legal Decisions Making (previously called “custody”) is an arrangement in which both parents are given the legal right to make decisions regarding their child’s religion, healthcare, education and any other significant issues. If there are issues with one parent involving drug or alcohol abuse or if there is a significant history of domestic violence un the relationship the Court may order sole legal decision making to one parent.

Legal Decision Making is not the same as physical custody. Both parents may be able to have the right to make joint legal decisions, but not have shared physical custody. This is why it is important for parents who have been given joint legal decision making (custody) to not assume that they will also be given joint physical custody, meaning equal parenting time. A common legal decision making and parenting time arrangement involves the parents sharing legal decision making and an equal parenting time schedule. Under Arizona law the Court must maximize each parents parenting time. However, many factors are involved when determine parenting time, such as distance between the parents residences.

There are many reasons joint legal custody can be beneficial. Communication is a must for parents who share legal custody, and it can benefit the children to see that their parents are able to collaborate with one another and address their disagreements in responsible and non-antagonistic ways. As the parents continue to work together to raise their children, they will also become more efficient in working collaboratively.

While sharing joint legal custody with the other parent may seem preferable than other custody options, there are some drawbacks to the arrangement. Sometimes checking with one another before making a decision can be impractical. It can also be difficult to gauge exactly what collaborating successfully looks like, as every custody situation is different.

A family law attorney may work to protect the rights and interests of parents regarding child custody issues and other family law legal disputes. Litigation may be used to obtain favorable settlement terms regarding spousal support, modifications of existing child custody orders, property division, grandparents’ rights, adoption issues, child support, visitation rights and parental relocation.

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