What You Need to Know About Child Custody Forms in Arizona

Having to wade into the legal realm to sort out child custody issues can be intimidating at first, but it’s about to get easier. Read on for some tips, along with links to important forms so you can start the process.

Child Custody Forms in Arizona

Legal lingo used to describe child custody in Arizona

First, you need a basic understanding of the words used by the legal system to talk about custody issues. What a layperson might call “child custody” is actually a combination of legal decision-making and parenting time. Both of those aspects will be addressed if you’re looking to gain “child custody”.

Legal decision-making involves the right to make choices for your child regarding religion, education, and health. This right can be shared between both parents or only given to one.

Parenting time relates to time actually spent with the child, where the responsible party is in charge of providing clothing, shelter, and food. It will also involve making some decisions regarding care of the child.

Child custody doesn’t have to be all or nothing

It’s important to note that you can share both decision-making and parenting. Child custody doesn’t have to be all or nothing although it can be if the situation requires it. Also, it’s possible for one parent to get the exclusive right to make legal decisions for the child, but for parenting time to be shared.

The simplest way of getting child custody is for both parents to agree on the best approach. However, if an agreement can’t be reached, you will go to court to address and settle the issues.

When to formalize child custody agreements

In most cases, these issues settled automatically as part of a divorce or legal separation. However, it also may need to be addressed if there has been a dispute and court case to determine maternity or paternity of a child. Finally, sometimes changes in circumstance require that an old decision on child custody be revised.

If the parents are unmarried, father establish paternity before pursuing parenting time or decision making. He has no legal rights relating to custody until he proves parental rights. After parental rights are secured, either parent may file a request with the court to establish a formal agreement on legal decision-making and parenting time.

Options for deciding on child custody issues

First, see if you and the other parent can agree on how to handle these issues. If you can  come to an agreement, the court is likely to comply with your decicion, thus making the entire process go more quickly and easily.

If the two of you can’t come to an agreement on your own, mediation is an option that many people find very helpful.

Finally, if neither of the above two options works out, the courts can make a decision on the matter.

How to modify a child custody agreement

A written request (via child custody forms) is submitted by either parent, if a change is needed or desired. The process includes paying the necessary fee via the Clerk of the Superior Court. In order to get a modification ordered, you have to show that the decision is in the child’s best interest. Additionally, you have to wait at least a year after the date on the previous order. If the child is in serious danger, there is proof of domestic abuse, or a parent disobeyed a previous order exceptions are made.

Settling child custody issues can go smoothly with the right information and help

Don’t let the need to formalize child custody intimidate you. In many cases, both parents agree and it’s a simple matter of filling out the right child custody forms at the right time to make everything official. It might seem tedious, but it should go smoothly. If you and the other parent need help coming to an agreement or filling out the forms, don’t hesitate to ask for it. Many people do and find it to be a huge time saver and stress reducer!

Get child custody forms you need on the Arizona Judicial Branch’s official website and don’t hesitate to contact us for help filling them out!

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