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The Best Interest of the Child

In Arizona child custody cases, the court uses the standard called The Best Interests of a Child. A number of factors are considered by the court to determine what is in the best interests of a child or children in a divorce case. Some of these factors are listed below:

  • The relationship the child has with each parent, as well as with any other siblings. This includes any past, present, and potential future relationships between the child and the parents.
  • The wishes of each child, as well as the wishes of each parent. The wishes or the child or children are particularly important if the child is of suitable age and maturity.
  • The mental and physical health of the child or children, as well as the mental and physical health of each parent.
  • The child’s ability to adjust to a new environment, like a new home, new school, new community or neighborhood.
  • The willingness of each parent to promote a healthy and positive relationship between the child or children, as well as the other parent.
  • The criminal background of each parent or a history of addictions, criminal behavior, abuse or domestic violence.
  • Any history of making false accusations of abuse or domestic violence by each parent.

The Best Interest Factors are used by the judges in family court to make decisions regarding custody, parenting time, and legal decision-making. The law is defined under A.R.S. § 25-403 which says that the court shall determine legal decision-making and parenting time, either originally or on petition for modification, in accordance with the best interests of the child. All factors that are relevant to the child’s physical and emotional well-being are considered by the court.

Settling Child Custody Disputes

Whenever child custody is contested between parents, the family court has discretion to appoint any of the following persons to protect the interests of the child:

Best Interests Attorney (BIA) – The Best Interests Attorney represents the minor children’s best interests. The BIA does not testify as a witness, but every BIA is supposed to participate in the conduct of the litigation process to the same extent as an attorney for any party.

Child’s Attorney – The Child’s Attorney provides independent legal counsel for a child and owes the same duties and responsibilities as the parents. Since the minor child is the client of the lawyer, that attorney is bound by the child’s directives or objectives.

Court-Appointed Attorney – In case a BIA or child’s attorney is not present, the court will appoint an attorney for the minor.

It is almost rare for all three types of representations working together to protect the child’s rights during court proceedings, but it may happen in a child custody dispute.

Although the Best Interest of the Child are inherent to custody cases, it is not the same in the case of child support, as it does not involve best interests considerations. Whatever the case, you need to get in touch with an experienced family lawyer to help you with child custody matters. Call the office of Cantor Divorce Lawyers in Phoenix, Arizona at (602) 254-8880 for a free initial consultation.

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