Legal decision-making and parenting time are most commonly known as child custody. If you and your spouse can't come to a reasonable agreement on child custody on your own, then a judge will determine what arrangement is in your child’s best interests.
What Is Legal Decision Making?
Legal decision-making authority is the ability of a parent to make decisions regarding a child’s education, medical, religious, and personal care. For example, legal decision-making means deciding where your child goes to school and what religious practices they'll participate in while growing up.
Most parents share joint legal decision-making, which means that both parents have an equal voice in making decisions for the child. However, there are times that joint legal decision-making may not be in the child’s best interests, for example, if one parent has a substance abuse issue or if there is significant domestic violence. When only one parent has legal decision-making authority, it is called sole legal decision-making.
What Is Parenting Time?
Parenting time refers to when each parent has time with the child. During a parent’s scheduled time, that parent will make routine decisions and provide for the child's immediate needs and ensure they attend school and activities.
Parenting time schedules are often created based on the best interest of the child, while considering each parents work schedules. Many parents share an equal parenting time schedule, but you and your spouse can work together to craft a parenting time schedule that meets the needs of your family.
Best Interest of the Child
When the court has to intervene in custody matters, it will determine legal decision-making and parenting time based on its view of the child's best interest. The best interest of the child is established after the court considers a number of different factors, including:
- The relationship between the parent and the child
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents and the child’s siblings
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
- If the child is of suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child
- The mental and physical health of the parents and the child
- Which parent is more likely to allow the child contact with the other parent,
- Whether there has been domestic violence
These aren't all the factors a judge will consider when determining legal decision-making and parenting time. Therefore, it's imperative you work with a family law attorney to understand this process better.
For More Help and Information
If you need more help and information with your Arizona legal decision-making and parenting time case, Lawrence & Jecmen PLLC attorneys are ready to assist. Call us today at (602) 807-1400 to learn more about how we can help you.