Custody Process In Arizona

“Legal decision-making” and “parenting time” are now the legal terms for child custody process in Arizona. The child’s best interests in mind is the top priority when making this decision.

Filing a Petition 

The process starts by filing a petition with the Clerk of the Superior Court. The petition for legal decision-making and parenting time can be done as part of a divorce or separation proceeding. Unmarried parents can file separately.

Parenting Plan is Part of the Custody Process in Arizona

The main goal is to develop a parenting plan together. Legal decision-making is about who will make major decisions for the child. Parenting time details the schedule and arrangements a child will with each parent.

Court Mediation Services

If there are disagreements that can’t be resolved, there will be mediation services provided by the court. Both parents will be ordered to attend.

Best Interest Factors of Custody Process in Arizona

The court will decide if mediation services can’t resolve disagreements. These are the factors that the judge will consider:

  • Child’s relationship with each parent
  • The child’s adjustment to home and school
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved

It will be assessed which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent, and more.

Home Study/Investigation

Sometimes the court will order a home study or investigation to gather more information about the child’s situation. This can involve a series of interviews with:

  • The parents
  • The child
  • Other people who know about the child’s situation.

Evaluation for Custody Process in Arizona 

In complex cases, the court may order a custody evaluation. A mental health professional will conduct an in-depth investigation to evaluate the family. The expert will make recommendations about legal decision-making and parenting time.

Parent Education Class

Parents involved in a custody case must attend a parent education class. It is to help parents understand the impact of their divorce or breakup on their child’s wellbeing.

Final Order for Custody

The court’s final order will detail all legal decision-making and parenting time.


There will be sudden changes in the future. Either parent can ask the court for modification of court order. The parent requesting the modification must show that there has been a substantial and continuing change of circumstances. Ultimately, this modification should be in the child’s best interest.


Child custody is a complicated and emotional process. Consult with a legal professional to navigate this process. They will protect your rights and advocate for your child.