Parenting Time & Legal Decision Making

parenting time

You have been devoted to your children since their birth. You have been there for all of their milestones. You have nurtured them and taught them. You have guided them and comforted them. You have protected them. And now you are worried as to how your divorce will affect them emotionally. Understand that these concerns are normal. At the Law Office of Tara Kilby, PLLC, we understand that divorce can be an emotional time and that the stakes are very high because your children are involved and they are your priority. Receiving relevant information from an experienced Attorney on these issues will make the process less stressful for you.

If you are contemplating filing for divorce or are working through an existing divorce, you may be very stressed and unsure about what to expect regarding the issues of parenting time and legal decision making. It seems like everyone knows someone who’s been divorced and these well-meaning friends will often share the experiences that they had during their divorce. We often assume our experiences will be similar to theirs. However, that’s rarely the case.

Parenting Time and Legal Decision Making are determined by the specifics of your unique situation, in accordance with the statutory factors outlined below. At the Law Office of Tara Kilby, we educate our Clients and help them to understand what to expect during the divorce process related to these issues. Clients are made aware what to expect and what is considered reasonable and therefore there are no surprises at trial or the conclusion of the divorce. You will have peace of mind that comes with having correct information and guidance by an experienced attorney.

You will find the following information helpful as you educate yourself on these issues.

Since 2013, in Arizona the term “Legal Custody” has been replaced with the term “Legal Decision Making” in Arizona Revised Statutes 25-401. “Legal Decision Making” is defined as “the legal right and responsibility to make all nonemergency legal decisions for a child including those regarding education, health care, religious training and personal care decisions. For the purposes of interpreting or applying any international treaty, federal law, a uniform code or the statutes of other jurisdictions of the United States, legal decision-making means legal custody”

Arizona Revised Statues 25-401 defines “Joint legal decision-making” as “both parents share decision-making and neither parent’s rights or responsibilities are superior except with respect to specified decisions as set forth by the court or the parents in the final judgment or order” whereas “Sole legal decision-making” is defined as one parent has the legal right and responsibility to make major decisions for a child.

In Arizona, the presumption is that both parents should enjoy legal decision-making authority jointly, unless the court finds that this arrangement is not in the best interests of the child.

In Arizona, physical custody is referred to as “parenting time.” Arizona Revised Statutes 25-401 defines “Parenting time” as “the schedule of time during which each parent has access to a child at specified times. Each parent during their scheduled parenting time is responsible for providing the child with food, clothing and shelter and may make routine decisions concerning the child’s care”.  During parenting times, the parent that has the children in their physical custody is expected and entitled to make routine decisions concerning the child’s care without consulting the other parent. 


Best Interest Of The Child Factors

In Arizona, all legal-decision making and parenting time determinations are made in consideration of the child’s best interests. The court is required to consider all factors relating to the child’s well-being, as defined in Arizona Revised Statues 25-403, including:

  1. The past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child.
  2. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest.
  3. The child’s adjustment to home, school and community.
  4. If the child is of suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child as to legal decision-making and parenting time.
  5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
  6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with the other parent. This paragraph does not apply if the court determines that a parent is acting in good faith to protect the child from witnessing an act of domestic violence or being a victim of domestic violence or child abuse.
  7. 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.
  8. Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse pursuant to section 25-403.03.
  9. The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding legal decision-making or parenting time.
  10. Whether a parent has complied with chapter 3, article 5 of this title.
  11. Whether either parent was convicted of an act of false reporting of child abuse or neglect under section 13-2907.02.
  12. In a contested legal decision-making or parenting time 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 interests of the child.

At the Law Office of Tara Kilby, PLLC you will have peace of mind that comes with having an experienced Attorney on your side that will be empathic to your situation and will provide you with support and guidance throughout the divorce process. We will take the time to explain the “legal jargon” and answer your questions. Together we will develop a plan. Our focus is to help you to begin to move forward.


Call the Law Office of Tara Kilby at (480) 634-8001 to schedule a complimentary thirty minute consultation with Attorney Tara Kilby to discuss the issues of Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time and how the statutes outlined herein apply to the specific facts of your pending or future divorce case.

From our main office located in the East Valley in Mesa, Arizona and our satellite office located in the West Valley in Glendale, Arizona, the Law Office of Tara Kilby represents clients throughout Phoenix and the entire Phoenix Metropolitan area including Scottsdale, Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, and all West Valley cities in Maricopa County in addition to Queen Creek and San Tan Valley located in Pinal County.