Arizona Child Custody Lawyers

Child Custody Law Firm in Scottsdale and Phoenix, AZ

(480) 219-2433

We Can Help You With Any Child Custody Issue

Child Custody is the most emotional and stressful aspect of Arizona family law. Understanding the laws and knowing how the court determines custody will help you throughout the custody process and beyond. Our attorneys have handled hundreds of custody cases and we have the experience to help you protect your children and get the outcome you want.

Arizona’s child custody laws and the legal terminology can be confusing. This page outlines some important aspects of Arizona’s custody laws and familiarizes you with the terminology so you can better understand the child custody laws and how they pertain to you and your children



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Arizona Child Custody Laws

SB1127 was enacted in 2013 and it changed some aspects of Arizona family law. One of the biggest changes was abolishing the term “custody” in family law because of the common misconceptions and confusion surrounding the term. The important thing to remember about this new law is that only the terms have changed; the two basic questions (listed above) regarding children and family law have remained the same.

A.R.S. §25-402(2)

Joint Legal Custody: ‘joint legal custody’ means the condition under which both parents share legal custody and neither parent’s rights are superior…”

A.R.S. § 25-402(3)

Joint Physical Custody: “’joint physical custody’ means the condition under which the physical residence of the child is shared by the parents in a manner that assures that the child has substantially equal time and contact with both parents.”

A.R.S. § 25-408(a)

Rights of a noncustodial parent: “…both parents are entitled to custody or parenting time and both parents reside in the state, at least forty five days advance written notice shall be provided to the other parent before a parent may (1) relocate the child outside the state (2) relocate the child more than one hundred miles within the state.

Child Custody

There is a lot of confusion with the term “custody”. When most people think about divorce and parents fighting over children, the term “custody” naturally comes to mind. However, the word “custody” is misleading when used in family law because it generally makes people think of only one aspect of custody, mainly the question, “Who do the children live with?” But in reality, the term “custody” is used to describe both parenting time and legal decision making.

There are two basic questions regarding parenting and family law:

  1. When do I have the children and when does my spouse have the children?
  2. Who makes major decisions (e.g. school, health, religion) about the children?

Any parent or guardian of a minor child who resides in Arizona should be familiar with Arizona’s child custody laws. But parents are not the only people who may have rights with your children. These persons may request legal decision-making or parenting time under the following circumstances:

A parent in any proceeding for marital dissolution, legal separation, annulment, paternity or modification of an earlier decree or judgment.

A person other than a parent, by filing a petition for third party rights under section 25-409 in the county in which the child permanently resides.

Parenting Plans

Our experienced attorneys at Best Law can help you and your spouse/partner draft a negotiated parenting plan. We can provide insight and anticipate future problems. We provide this service at an hourly rate and provide you with a court-approved form at the conclusion that can be filed with the court along with your decree.

Under A.R.S. 25-403.02, every parenting plan needs:

  1. Designation of legal decision-making as either joint or sole
  2. Each parent’s rights and responsibilities for the personal care of the child and for decisions in areas such as education, health care and religion
  3. A practical schedule of parenting time for the child, including holidays and school vacations
  4. A procedure for the exchanges of the child, including location and responsibility for transportation
  5. A procedure by which proposed changes, disputes and alleged breaches may be mediated or resolved, which may include the use of conciliation services or private counseling
  6. A procedure for periodic review of the plan’s terms by the parents
  7. A procedure for communicating with each other about the child, including methods and frequency.

Child Custody Legal Terminology


Custody is essential everything included with raising a child. It includes: Physical Custody – “Parenting Time” authority Legal Custody – “Legal Decision-Making”


The Best Interests of a Child is a standard by which a court determines what arrangements would be to a child’s greatest benefit, often used in deciding decision-making and parenting time matters and in deciding whether to approve an adoption or a guardianship.


Parenting time means the schedule of time during which each parent has access to a child at specified times. Each parent during their scheduled parenting time is responsible for providing the child with food, clothing and shelter and may make routine decisions concerning the child’s care.


Visitation means a schedule of time that occurs with a child by someone other than a legal parent.


Legal decision-making means the legal right and responsibility to make all non-emergency legal decisions for a child including those regarding education, health care, religious training and personal care decisions. Legal decision-making means legal custody.


Sole legal decision-making means one parent has the legal right and responsibility to make major decisions for a child.


Both parents have the legal right and share the responsibility to make all non-emergency legal decisions for a child including education, health care, religion and personal care.


Legal parent means a biological or adoptive parent whose parental rights have not been terminated. Legal parent does not include a person whose paternity has not been established pursuant to section 25-812 or 25-814.

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