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Arizona Child Custody Laws

State child custody laws are fairly similar from one state to the next, and most states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA). It has been adopted in Arizona as well.

The idea behind the UCCA is to minimize interstate child custody conflicts. Arizona child custody laws therefore allow parents and guardians the option of joint custody and recognize grandparent visitation rights.

There are two types of custody recognized by Arizona courts: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right of a parent or guardian to make major life decisions, such as schooling and religious upbringing. Physical custody refers to the decision of which parent or guardian the child lives with. It is possible for either one (sole custody) or both (joint custody) parents to have legal and/or physical custody.

So under a joint legal custody arrangement both parents are free to make major life decisions for the child. In a sole physical custody arrangement, the child lives with one parent full-time, even if the non-custodial parent has visitation rights or shares in the legal custody arrangement.

A parenting plan is another way parents may handle child rearing decisions. A parenting plan generally recognizes the following:

  • The needs of children change and grow as they mature
  • Both parents are to have access to a child's official records
  • The continuity of the parent-child relationship typically is in the child's best interest
  • Custodial parents make daily decisions (including emergencies) while the child is in their custody  

Parenting plans also lay out how children will spend birthdays and other holidays; transportation arrangements; when supervision is required; and other considerations.

Learn more about Arizona's child custody laws in the chart below. See FindLaw's extensive Child Custody section for additional articles and resources.
Code Section 25-401, et seq.
Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted 1996
Joint Custody an Option? Yes, §25-403
Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized? Yes, §25-409
Child's Own Wishes Considered? Yes

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact an Arizona family law attorney, or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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