As a family law attorney, most of the clients I encounter talk about children in terms of custody. That term is really a misnomer that is no longer used. In Arizona, when it comes to children, a court must make rulings in three areas. The areas are Legal Decision-Making, Parenting Time, and Child Support. In this blog post we will be speaking about legal decision-making. What is it? How does the court decide? Does it affect parenting time?
When deciding legal decision-making, the court has three options; the most common is joint decision making, there is also joint decision making with one party having final say, and sole legal decision making.
Joint decision-making means that both parents must communicate with each other and come to decisions about the minor child(ren) together. If they cannot come to an agreement, they must either go to court to change decision making or go to mediation to attempt to reach an agreement.
Joint decision-making with final say means that the parents must still attempt to reach an agreement in good faith, but if an agreement cannot be reached, the parent who has final say can than make the decision without the agreement of the other party.
Lastly, there is sole legal decision-making. In this scenario the parent with sole legal decision-making would not be required to seek the consent of the other parent. The parent with sole legal decision-making would make the necessary decision and is only required to inform the other parent of the decision they made.
In determining what type of decision-making parents should have, the court must consider the Best Interests of the Child. The Arizona Legislature has listed several factors the court must consider when determining the Best Interests of the Child. These factors play heavily into a court’s determination and can affect the rights of one parent or the other.
Once a court determines what type of decision making the parents should share, they must than consider parenting time, next weeks blog post will cover parenting time in more detail, however legal decision-making does not necessarily affect what parenting time the parties have.
Having an experienced family law attorney working on your behalf can help to ensure that your rights, and the best interests of your children are protected. To schedule a family consultation in either our Gilbert or Glendale office call us today at 480-340-2184.