Child custody and parenting time are important aspects of the legal process of divorce, and it is important for divorcing parents to understand how courts make decisions on these issues. As we have previously written on this blog, the principle factor judges consider when making custody and parenting time determinations is the best interests of the child or children.
Bests interests is a general principle which refers to the overall health and well-being of the children caught in the middle of a divorce. While there are a variety of factors judges may take into consideration when considering the best interests of children, we'll speak briefly about several in this and the next post.
One of these factors is the relationship the child has with each parent, as well as siblings and other individuals who could impact the health and well-being of the child. Arizona judges will take into consideration how close the child is with each parent, the kind of relationship they have, as well as how close the child is with siblings and where those siblings live. Judges will also consider other individuals the parents bring into their lives and who may be around and influence the child in any given custody arrangement. Parents should, therefore, be cautious about the company they keep as this can be considered by the court when determining custody and parenting time arrangements.
Another important factor is the way the child has adjusted to his or her current home, school and community. If that adjustment is poor and there is a better alternative, this could potentially impact parenting time and custody decisions, though probably not as much as the child's relationship with his or her parents.
In our next post, we'll take look at some other factors judges take into consideration when making custody decisions and offer some comments on how these factors relate to each other.
Source: Superior Court Superior Court, "Pre-Decree: Frequently Asked Questions," Accessed Dec. 23, 2014.