What is custody?
November 10, 2014
In Arizona, the term “custody” is no longer used. Instead, we use the phrase legal decision-making; this is what many other states call “legal custody” (as opposed to “physical custody”). “Custody” (or, more correctly, legal decision-making, later abbrevaited LDM) in Arizona refers to the decision making power of the parents on major issues such as health, religion, education, etc. If a parent has sole custody, in Arizona that parent can make most or all such major decisions without having to contact the other parent for that parent’s input. On the other hand, if a parent has joint custody (LDM), that parent, in most situations, must first discuss the situation with the other parent and obtain that parent’s agreement about the decision to be made. In Arizona, a parent can have “tiebreaker” status. This means that if the parents cannot agree, the parent with the tiebreaker status can make the final decision. While this is an excellent solution for the parent with that status, for the other parent it can render joint custody (LDM) no different in reality than sole custody. Often, people confuse custody with parenting time. In Arizona, joint custody does not mean “equal” time with the child. The amount of time the parent spends with the child is referred to as “parenting time.” In Arizona, it is possible to have joint custody but parenting time of only every other weekend.
Serving Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Paradise Valley, Glendale, Peoria, Surprise, and the Greater Phoenix, Arizona Metropolitan Area