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Child support and custody

Next to financial issues, child support and custody are the most contentious and complicated of the things addressed in a divorce or family law matter.


The first thing to know to better understand the process is to understand that “child custody” is not a term used in family law in Arizona. The terms used are “legal decision making” and “parenting time”. Legal decision making refers to which parent is making decisions about school, religion, medical care, and where the child lives. The most common legal decision making arrangement is Joint Legal Decision Making, meaning both parents make decisions together.

Parenting time is what most people are thinking of when the say “child custody”. This term means who has the children and when for regular living arrangements, holidays and vacations. This is where outcomes in a case can be vastly different from case to case as there are many factors that are considered by the Court.


The law is by far more about fairness and the Best Interest of the Child than anything else when these issues are addressed. The Court will look at several different factors in determining child custody arrangements:

  • The preference of the child

  • The ability and wishes of each parent to provide a frequent and loving relationship between the child and the other spouse

  • The preference of the parents

  • The child’s attachment to his/her home and school

  • Physical and mental well-being of the child and the parents

  • The relationship between the parents and child and between the child and siblings

  • Whether or not there has been evidence of child abuse in the past

  • Whether or not there has been evidence of domestic violence in the household in the past

  • Any duress, coercion or unfair methods used to obtain a custody agreement

  • Which spouse was the primary childcare provider

  • Any criminal convictions for sex crimes or drug/alcohol abuse

ADR is available to determine custody issues in the event the parties cannot reach an agreement. One of the most important ways to be prepared for a trial regarding child custody is documentation. When parents looking for a favorable custody arrangement, they rely too often on "he said, she said" without any evidence such as text messages, emails, or other such evidence. Testimony is an important part of a trial, but physical evidence makes testimony much more credible and persuasive to a judge.

Child support is based on a firm calculation that can be done relatively quickly without a lot of contestation. Again, agreements between the parties can be whatever they wish it to be, up to and including waiving support payments. Three factors go into determining support payments for child support: how many days the children are with each parent, the income of the parties, and the standard of living provided by the parents. These figures are put into a standardized calculator and used as binding evidence at trial.

In any custody or support dispute, it is imperative that you hire an attorney who can treat your family with respect and consideration, but who can also be objective and manage the case as a business transaction. Emotions understandably run high during these types of cases, and in the long run you'll be grateful to have an attorney who can remain calm and honest about your outcomes and the proceedings. 

We offer a free 60-minute consultation.

Call or email to schedule an appointment today. 

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