Does Mom Automatically Get the Kids in a Divorce?

Cindy Best

John and Debra married when they were young, had two kids, and then drifted apart. Debra asks John for a divorce. John is devastated. The end of his marriage hurts, but what hurts more is the thought of not seeing his kids every day. Debra wants John to agree that she has the kids most of the time. Every other weekend, the children can stay with him. She explains that she is their mother, and the law says children should be with their mom. John remembers when he was a boy, he spent every other weekend with his dad after his parents divorced. His friend, Darren, also sees his children every other weekend. This must be what the law requires, John thinks, but the thought of seeing his children so infrequently tears at John. He decides before he signs the papers he will consult with a lawyer. Wise move. “Is every other weekend the most time I can get with my children?” he asks the lawyer. The answer is an emphatic no. Under Arizona law, each parent, regardless of whether they are the mother or the father, is entitled to have the children 50 percent of the time unless they are not fit parents. Unfortunately, too often, fathers like John don’t know this, and agree to much less parenting time than what they are entitled to.

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