Success: Arizona Takes a Step Towards Shared Parenting

Tell Woman’s Day What You Think of Their Divorce “Myths”

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Fathers and Families

Success: Arizona Takes a Step Towards
Shared Parenting

Tell Woman’s Day What You Think of
Their Divorce “Myths”
January 4, 2013
Top Story
Success: Arizona Takes a Step Towards Shared Parenting
By Clay Robertson, Member, Fathers and Families

Clay Robertson
Clay Robertson
Happy New Year! Arizona’s law, SB 1127, went into effect on January 1st. It requires the court to adopt a parenting plan that provides for both parents to share legal decision-making regarding their child and that maximizes their respective parenting time.

Arizona’s new law still requires judges to make decisions based on the children’s best interest, but their best interest now includes maximum time for both parents, although the new legislation does not specify the amount of time a child should spend with each parent. It does emphasize three aspects to contact with both parents: Frequency, Meaningfulness, and Continuity.

Physical custody will now be called parenting time and legal custody will now be called legal decision-making authority. The parent (or parents) with legal decision-making authority now has power over not just a child’s health and education, but also personal care matters like haircuts and ear piercing.

Under the new law, the court now must fine any parent who lies to the court or tries to delay court proceedings. Before, such fines had been optional. There are also stricter reporting requirements for parents to notify the other parent when they move a significant distance away.

Under SB1127, ‘parenting time’ means the schedule of time during which each parent has access to a child. It clarifies that each parent during their scheduled parenting time is responsible for providing the child with food, clothing and shelter and may also make routine decisions concerning the child's care.

The new law makes the following changes to the custody factors:
  • Provides that the factors are relevant to the child’s physical and emotional well-being.
  • Requires the court to consider “the past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.”
  • Requires the court to consider which parent is more likely to provide “frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact” between the child and the other parent.
  • Adds a factor that requires the court to consider “whether one parent intentionally misled the court to cause an unnecessary delay, to increase the cost of litigation or to persuade the court to give a legal decision-making or a parenting time preference to that parent.
It also eliminates the following factors:
  • The wishes of the child's parent or parents as to custody.
  • Whether one parent, both parents, or neither parent has provided primary care of the child.
The new law provides that, regardless of legal decision-making authority, each parent is “entitled to reasonable parenting time to ensure that the minor child has substantial, frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact with the parent unless the court finds, after a hearing, that parenting time would endanger the child's physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.”

The Honorable David B. Gass of the Maricopa County Superior Court prepared this overview of the changes enacted.

Tell Woman’s Day What You Think of Their Divorce “Myths”
By Paul Lee, Esq., Member, Ohio Executive Committee,
Fathers and Families

Ned Holstein
Paul Lee
Woman’s Day web editor Marlisse Cepeda is inviting comments on her recent article: “7 Divorce Myths – Debunked.” Fathers and Families is inviting members to let her know what you think about myth #6.

Myth #6: The mother almost always gets custody of the children.
This could be a widely held belief because so many people think that mothers should always get custody. Legally, though, that’s not the case. Even if the mom is the child’s primary caregiver throughout the marriage, both parents are “entitled to equal time with the kids,” says Raso. The best interest of the child also could preclude a mom from gaining custody, says Dr. Tessina. If a judge doesn’t deem that the mother meets the state’s standards for being a fit parent, she won’t be awarded primary custody. If both parents are fit to raise the child, they’re typically granted shared custody.

Follow this link and post your comment. In fact, invite your friends and family to share their comments too. Woman’s Day is a venerable publication. It should hear how family court works today.

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Fathers and Families is a Shared Parenting Organization
Fathers and Families is a non-profit organization that is educating the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents and extended families. If you would like to get involved in our organization, you can do so several ways. First, we would love to have you as an official member of the Fathers and Families team. Second, Fathers and Families is an organization that believes in the importance of using social media as a means to spread the word about shared parenting and other topics, and you can visit us on our Facebook Page to learn more about our efforts. Last, we hope you will share this newsletter with other families using the many social networking sites so that we can bring about greater awareness of shared parenting. Thank you for your support.

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"I have been a step-parent for over 20 years and now am a doting grandmother to two beautiful granddaughters. By spending time with my step-children through the years, I have seen first-hand the wants and needs of children whose parents are divorced or separated. I believe children deserve the opportunity to love and to spend time with both of their parents equally through shared parenting."

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