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I want sole custody! That is a phrase we have all heard a handful of times either in real life or on the big screen. However, as far as Arizona law is concerned, “custody” no longer exists. As such, the understanding of custody in Arizona is widely misunderstood by many.

Beginning in January of 2013, Arizona eliminated the term“custody” from is vocabulary and adopted “joint legal decision making authority” and “parenting time.” What this means under Arizona law is that by default, parents share joint legal decision making authority of their minor children in addition to some form of a parenting time plan. So, what exactly do these two terms mean?

Legal Decision-Making

Legal decision making pertains to the everyday decision surrounding the up bring of our children. However, three major issues usually fall under this category – where the children go to school, what religion will they be raised under, and what doctors will they see and medical treatment they receive. Under a joint legal decision-making plan, both parents work together to make these decisions, with neither parent have more power over the other. However, under a sole legal decision-making plan, one parent has the power to make all of these decisions without obtaining consent form the other parent. However, if the other parent does not agree that your decisions are in the best interests of your child, then that parent can go to the Judge to have the Judge decide. It is important to remember that sole legal decision making does not necessarily mean sole parenting time. It is entirely possible for parents to share parenting time while only parent has sole legal decision-making authority.

Parenting Time

Parenting time is essentially what most people consider to be custody. Parenting time pertains to who has physical custody of the minor children at any given time. Parenting time can be awarded equally on a 50/50 basis, disproportionally such as on a 70/30 basis, or in extreme cases, it can be awarded to one parent solely. In most cases, parents are free to build parenting time schedule in a way most beneficial to them. However, in some cases, parenting time schedules are created and order by the court.

“Legal Decision-Making” and “Parenting Time” matters are some of the most difficult and complicated cases to go through family courts. As such, you are encouraged to consult with an experienced Phoenix family law attorney to represent you through the process. With over 30 years of combined experience, the attorneys at Lasiter & Jackson will aggressively represent your interests in any child custody proceeding. Contact us today to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.


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