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Legal decision-making for parents in Arizona

Here in Arizona, the phrase “legal decision-making” has a similar meaning as the words “legal custody” have in other states. It’s the part of child custody that involves a parent’s ability to make decisions for their children. If you want to petition the court for a modification of legal decision-making authority, AZ Diamond Documents can help by preparing the necessary documents.

Making important decisions for your children

Parents’ decisions about their children shape their future. After a divorce or separation, parents may disagree about important decisions for their children. If these disagreements are not resolved, one parent can ask the court to intervene. Examples of important decisions include:
  • Enrollment in schools
  • Religious education choices
  • Non-emergency medical care
With major decisions like these, the court may order that one or both participate in the decision-making process. Unless a new court order is granted, this means only one parent has the final “say” in such decisions.

At the same time, minor decisions not requiring the court’s intervention are usually delegated in the form of a parenting plan to be approved by the court.

“Best interest” factors in Arizona family court

When determining parenting time and legal decision-making, courts consider what is in the best interest of the child and look at the following factors:
  • Past, present, and possible future relationship between parent and child
  • Child’s interrelationship and interaction with siblings and anyone else who might significantly affect their best interests
  • Child’s adjustment to school, home, and community
  • Child’s wishes, if they have suitable age and maturity, regarding parenting time and legal decision-making authority
  • Physical and mental health of everyone involved
  • Likelihood that a parent will allow the child to have continuing, frequent, and meaningful contact with the other parent (This factor doesn’t apply if a court determines that the parent is acting in good faith to protect a child from abuse or domestic violence)
  • Whether a parent has intentionally misled a court and caused a delay, increased the expense of litigation, or has unfairly persuaded a court to grant them parenting time or legal decision-making power
  • Whether a parent has used coercion or duress during the process
  • Whether there is child abuse, neglect, or domestic violence
Family law judges have the discretion to determine arrangements for decision-making and parenting time, based on their specific findings on each of the factors listed above. Expert document preparer can help you create and file compelling petitions, exhibits, and disclosures to convince the court to rule in your favor.

Legal decision-making and parenting time

Usually, the decision-making authority is determined by the court at the same time when it determines parenting time (physical custody). It’s important to understand that, even though both parenting time and legal decision-making are awarded based on the overall best interests of the children, they are still determined separately.

Joint decision-making

In most child custody cases, the starting point is with both parents as decision-makers. That means they participate equally in the decision-making process.

It also means neither parent is allowed to make legal decisions about the child unless the other parent agrees. However, during separation and divorce proceedings, there’s often a lack of communication and cooperation between parents and the court can intervene.

Documents for parenting time and legal decision-making

Although the professionals at AZ Diamond Documents can’t represent you in court nor give legal advice, our team of legal document preparers can help you create and file appropriate, effective paperwork for a successful outcome in family court.


Our Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparers have the experience your family needs.

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