When two parents get divorced in Arizona, the divorce decree will specify where the couple’s children will live and the schedule of parenting time (formerly known as “visitation”) for each parent to follow. Sometimes parents may be able to work out these agreements between themselves, either on their own or with the help of a mediator or an attorney. When thinking about the parenting time decision: what tips the balance?

Challenges With Child Custody

Often, parents cannot come to an agreement over how parenting time should be handled and this requires the court to intervene and make the decision based on the child’s best interests. There are many different factors that can influence the type of parenting time arrangement the judge recommends, and your Arizona family lawyer can tell you more about this and what you can expect in a typical case. You need someone dedicated to your case and your needs.

The primary consideration is the best interests of the child but this cannot always be simple to determine. Logistical considerations (such as work schedules or distance between the parties’ homes) also have to be considered.

Here are some of the common things that a judge will evaluate in order to determine what is in the best interest of the child as it relates to child custody:

  • The past roles of the parties and also their potential future roles with respect to child rearing
  • Interaction between the Child and other members of the household
  • Physical health of the parents
  • Mental health of the parents
  • The number of transitions the child will have to go through to make a parenting time schedule work
  • Wishes of the child if the child is of sufficient age and maturity
  • Adjustment to community and school
  • Any evidence of sex abuse or domestic violence or drug use

An expert appointed by the court may ask to speak with relevant individuals in the child’s life, such as a teacher or other people who understand the challenges that the child may be facing when adjusting to a divorce. Ultimately, the court will want to choose the situation that appears to be in the best physical and mental health interest of the child. This gives much discretion to the judges, which is why you need an Arizona family lawyer who you can count on during this critical time. Having your questions answered and knowing that you have someone fighting for your best outcome gives you a great deal of peace of mind.

In hotly contested child custody cases where the parents can’t seem to agree on anything and where the judge feels overwhelmed with what to do next, the court might appoint a best interests attorney, court appointed advisor, or other expert to represent the children or weigh in on the analysis. It is important to cooperate with anyone appointed by the Court.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding The Parenting Time Decision: What Tips the Balance?, or other family law issues, please feel free to contactBarry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.