Is Arizona Still Considered a “Pro-Mother” State for Legal Decision Making?Many clients have come to me asking the question, “Isn’t Arizona a pro-mother state?” Historically, Arizona was considered a pro-mother state; however, times have changed. More often, we see family law judges beginning the legal decision making and parenting time analysis at substantially equal parenting time and legal decision making for both parents. Arizona Revised Statute § 25-403.02(B), which covers parenting time, states that neither parent’s gender shall be taken into consideration when adopting a parenting plan for the minor children.
The judges consider each parent’s fitness when determining legal decision making and parenting time. The key fitness issues considered by judges are possible domestic violence, substance or alcohol abuse, and child abuse. Judges also look at the distance between each parent’s home to determine if a parenting plan is logistically possible for the parents and children.
Arizona has recently implemented a new preliminary injunction that is required to be filed with an Establishment of Paternity in the Superior Court. Arizona courts require that along with the Petition to Establish, a birth certificate or acknowledgement of paternity also be filed with the court.
The preliminary injunction is a court order that prohibits one parent from removing a child/children from the state without the written consent of the other parent. Until recently, the preliminary injunction only pertained to the parties of a divorce and prevented each parent from removing the minor child/children from the state and placed restrictions on disposing of community property.
In a recent Arizona Court of Appeals case, the court ruled that even though there was no court order for paternity and no pending establishment case with the superior court, the father had established paternity by voluntarily signing an acknowledgement of paternity. According to Arizona Revised Statute § 25-812(D), when a father voluntarily signs an acknowledgement of paternity, that is sufficient to establish paternity and equal to a court order for paternity.
Although Arizona has been referred to as a “pro-mother” state, the current trend shows that each parent is receiving substantially equal parenting time and legal decision making authority.
If you have questions or are facing legal decision making and parenting time issues, please give me a call at (480) 833-1113.