Arizona courts base their child custody decisions on what is in the best interest and welfare of the child. The following factors are considered when deciding on custody.
- 1. The wishes of the child’s parent(s) regarding custody;
- 2. The wishes of the child regarding the custodian;
- 3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the his/her parent(s), siblings and any other person who may significantly affect his/her best interest;
- 4. The child’s adjustment to home, school and community;
- 5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- 6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent (with the exception of instances of domestic violence or child abuse perpetrated by one of the parents);
- 7. Whether one parent, both parents or neither parent has provided primary care of the child;
- 8. The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding custody;
- 9. Whether a parent has complied with the Domestic Relation Education on Children’s Issues statutes (Chapter 3, Article 5) of this title);
- 10. Whether either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect under section 13-2907-02; and
- 11. Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse.
In a contested custody case, the court shall make specific findings on the record about all relevant factors and the reasons for which the decision is in the best interest of the child.
The court may award sole or joint custody. Before joint custody can be granted, the parents must first submit a proposed parenting plan, which includes specifics about each parent’s rights and responsibilities for the care of the child and for decisions regarding education, healthcare and religious training; a visitation schedule; established procedures for handling changes, disputes, breaches and periodic reviews and statements that the parents understand the nature of joint custody as well as the relevant notification requirements.
Arizona uses the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. Either parent may be ordered to pay child support, without regard to marital misconduct. If child support was not ordered and the court deems that it is appropriate and necessary, retroactive child support may be ordered, to the date of filing of the dissolution of marriage or legal separation.
The Supreme Court establishes the guidelines for determining the amount of child support to be awarded, and shall review these guidelines at least once every four years to ensure that their application results in the determination of appropriate amounts. The court bases these guidelines on all relevant factors, including the following.
- 1. The financial resources and needs of the child;
- 2. The financial resources and needs of the custodial parent;
- 3. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;
- 4. The physical and emotional condition of the child, and the child’s education needs;
- 5. The financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent;
- 6. The medical support plan for the child;
- 7. Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common;
- 8. The duration of parenting time and related expenses.
Child support may continue past the child’s age of 18 when the child is severely mentally or physically disabled, such that he/she is unable to live independently and be self-supporting, and the disability began before the child reached the age of majority.
Child support may also continue past the age of 18, if the child is still attending high school or a certified high school equivalency program, but only until the age of 19.