Child Custody FAQs Part 1

Cindy Best


Do the courts favor mothers?
There is no such preference. There are many factors that the court considers, but courts do not favor mothers over fathers.

How does the court decide custody? (A.R.S. ?25-403)
The court looks at the following factors:
1. The wishes of the child?s parent or parents as to custody.
2. The wishes of the child as to the custodian.
3. The interaction and interrelationships of the child with the child?s parent or parents, the child?s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child?s best interest.
4. The child?s adjustment to home, school and community.
5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent.
7. Whether one parent, both parents or neither parent has provided primary care of the child.
8. The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding custody.
9. Whether a parent has complied with Chapter 3, Article 5 of this title.
10. Whether either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect under section 13-2907.02.

We are not yet divorced and my wife took the kids to New York.
Once the divorce is filed and served, neither parent can take the children out of state without permission of the other parent or the court.

Can I stop my spouse from dating when she has the kids?
No, as long as they are safe, there is not much you can do. You have the right to know who the children are spending time with and whether they are spending the night somewhere other than their home with the other parent. Be reasonable in these requests, but keep your children safe. You might want to know the person?s birth date and Social Security number so you can run a background check on him/her. You have a right to know your children are safe.

How much do I have to pay for the kids?
It all depends; this is discussed in Chapter 5 regarding child support.

Can she schedule soccer when they are with me?
It is best if this can be negotiated. It is unknown what each judge would decide. Some believe that a parent can only schedule on their own time. This basically eliminates your children from most activities. This is probably one of the most hotly litigated issues after divorce. Think of it this way: it is not ?your time;? it is your child?s childhood.

My wife has the kids every other weekend, but she works and leaves them with her mother. What can I do?
You could have an agreement called a ?right of first refusal.? This is a common provision, which reads that if one parent who has the kids is gone for more than four hours, s/he will call the other parent and offer them the ?right? to parent the kids before anyone else. If the other parent is busy, then parent number 1 can leave the kids with a responsible person of their choice.

My wife has the kids every Monday and Tuesday, but she is starting school and leaves the kids with her boyfriend. Can I have parenting time with my children, instead of her boyfriend?
The right of first refusal would apply. Also, you have every right to know exactly who is taking care of your children when your spouse is not home; this includes name, address, phone number and ID information, so you can do a background check if you desire. This is not to say that you use such requests as harassment; in fact you have a similar obligation to your spouse to let her know with whom you are leaving the kids, if anyone. You both have the continuing job to make sure your children are safe.

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