Children and Input in a Divorce? Is It Allowable In Arizona?
Some parents wonder whether children and input in a divorce or parental separation is allowable in making decisions. When couples decide to divorce or separate they must address issues pertaining to children. Many things need to be decided such as where the children will reside, how parenting time will be handled, and payment of child support. In Arizona as in other states, decisions are always made in the best interest of the children.
It is always hoped that parents will come to a decision together about legal decision-making (formerly known in Arizona as “legal custody”) and parenting time of their children. In cases where parents are unable to make a decision or where there are extenuating circumstances, the court will make the decisions. Judges do not usually require children to testify in court regarding custody issues. Instead, custody evaluators or court staff trained in interviewing children will do so and report back to the judge with their findings. Children of all ages may be interviewed but the likelihood of a child being interviewed increases with their age. The evaluators will then testify to the court regarding the wishes of the children and may present their own recommendations based on discussions and observations depending on the scope of their appointment.
Wishes of the Child
There is no minimum age at which a child may “decide” where to live. The only age at which a child can absolutely decide where to live is age 18. The court will always weigh the wishes of the children and parents with what is in the best interest of the kids. Decision-making, parenting time, and other decisions will not be made strictly based on convenience or other factors.
Parents can try to avoid having a judge decide child-related matters by making every effort possible to come to an agreement. Both parents are expected to spend time with their children as well as provide for their needs. Unless there is a reason why one parent is not suitable, parents should be sure to allow for meaningful and maximized parenting time in most situations. Spouses may need extra help when they are at a stalemate with divorce settlement matters.
A skilled divorce attorney is often able to provide assistance in resolving difficult situations before they get out of hand. In some cases, a mediator may be necessary to help couples work through particularly complex disagreements. If you have decided to divorce your first step is to choose an experienced family law firm. Contact the compassionate legal team at Udall Shumway to schedule a consultation.
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 Children and Input in a Divorce, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Steven H. Everts 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.