In some states, the term custody can refer to the actual time that each parent spends with the child. However, under Arizona law, the term custody (formally referred to as legal decision-making authority) refers to the authority of one or both parents to make decisions for a child, such as what school the child will attend, in what religion they will be raised, or decisions relating to medical treatment or care. If two parties can co-parent effectively, a court may award equal legal decision-making authority, granting a each parent a say in important decisions.
Conversely, physical custody refers to where a child will physically reside, although the correct terminology for this is “parenting time.” Fathers may also be awarded equal parenting time, meaning a child will live with each parent an equal amount of time (such as alternating weeks). However, in highly contentious child custody proceedings, it is more common that one parent will have primary custody and the other parent will have visitation rights (referred to as parenting time).
It is sometimes the case that both parents will have shared legal custody or decision-making authority while only one parent retains primary physical custody or parenting time. In this situation, both parents will have some degree of legal authority over a child. The noncustodial parent is then typically granted appropriate parenting time and is obligated to pay child support.
At Thomas Law Office, we understand that every family situation is unique; therefore, you need strategic guidance that fits your individualized needs and goals. Throughout the entire process, we listen to clients’ concerns and seek to meet their personal objectives fully.