Does school choice impact child custody in Arizona? In the previous blog, School Selection: How Does the Family Court Decide?,  there were several key points brought to light. Divorce represents a period of significant change for all parties involved, but it is frequently the children who face the biggest changes. Parents who wish to keep the best interests of the children in mind should think carefully about whether or not the children should change schools after divorce. If both parents are relocating somewhere new, then it may be necessary for the children to attend new schools. That being said, if there is any situation in which the children could stay in an environment in which they already comfortable, this is worth considering carefully.

What Courts Consider in These Cases

In Arizona, the court must consider the general best interests of the children, as defined in A.R.S. § 25-403, and other school-specific factors such as the child’s wishes regarding his or her school, the child’s adjustment to the current school situation, and parent wishes regarding school placement.

Do Parent’s Feelings Factor in This Decision?

While one or both parents may have significant feelings about where the child should be placed in school, courts are charged with evaluating all possible elements under the best interests of the child guideline. Courts will examine the child’s current relationship with any stakeholders at the current school as well as other factors, such as the parent’s wishes.

Why Cooperation is a Good Course of Action

The bottom line should be that as parents you should be able to cooperate and agree on what school is in the best interests of the child. Divorce is already a challenging time for young children, especially as it represents a significant change in their life.

Consulting with an Arizona family lawyer as soon as you have questions about school choice and child-related issues, such as legal decision-making authority and parenting time,in Arizona is a good idea because it will give you an overview of all of your options and allow you to make an informed decision.  Being able to have the children in a school in which they can thrive and be emotionally supported during a difficult time can be extremely beneficial, but you need to think through whether there are any elements indicating that a change of schools would benefit the kids. These complex issues can be aided by advice from an experienced Arizona family lawyer.


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 Does School Choice Impact Child Custody in Arizona?, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to, 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.