Son being bucked in by father who has full custody of him.

When Can A Child Choose Which Parent to Live With In Arizona?

When parents decide that a divorce is the best path for themselves and their family going forward, there is much that needs to be decided. One of the most contentious issues when parents divorce relates to child custody. Child custody can become a battleground for emotions to the point where parents are unable to reach an agreement on their own. When the parents cannot come to a mutually acceptable child custody arrangement on their own, the court must step in to settle the matter for them.

When Can A Child Choose Which Parent to Live With In Arizona?

In order to determine child custody arrangements, Arizona courts will consider many factors and render a decision based on what is in the best interest of the child. Such factors may include:

  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • The mental and physical well-being of each parent
  • The likelihood of each parent to foster a meaningful relationship with the other parent
  • The child’s home and community
  • The ability of each parent to provide a stable home
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Any history of alcohol or drug abuse

One other factor the court may take into account is the child’s preference. To take the child’s preference into account when rendering custody decisions, the court must find that the child is of a suitable age and possesses an appropriate level of maturity to have his or her opinion on the matter be given weight. There is no set age at which a court will or will not consider the opinion of a child on custody matters. Courts make the decision on a case by case basis.

If a child is found to be of an appropriate age and maturity level, the court has discretion to decide how to best ascertain the wishes of the child on the matter of custody. Judges obviously avoid having a child testify in court as having to express such a personal opinion in open court, in front of the child’s parents, could be traumatic, to say the least. Generally speaking, judges will choose to interview a child who is 12 years or older in chambers as opposed to the courtroom.

As an alternative to being interviewed in the judge’s chamber, the child may be interviewed through a Conciliation Services parenting conference. Conciliation Services is a department within the Arizona Superior Court. Such an interview would generate a written report that would be given to the judge and both parents. The court may also wish to seek advice from a professional in order to ascertain the wishes of the child. 

Child Custody Attorney

Child custody determinations will have a substantial impact on your post-divorce life. Make sure you get informed on issues related to child custody as well as knowing your legal rights. The dedicated team at Cohen Family Law is committed to providing our clients with legal counsel they can depend on during the trying time of divorce. We are here to answer your questions. We are here to advocate on behalf of you and your family. Contact us today.