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When Can A Child Legally Decide Which Parent To Live With In Arizona?

When parents divorce in Arizona, there is no magical age at which a kid may choose which parent they want to live with. Regardless, the court can take a child’s preferences into account, regardless of their age.

When parents divorce, the most contentious issue is generally child custody. Both parents are likely to have opposing views on how custody and visitation should be handled. In certain areas, the kid may be able to select which parent he or she wants to live with. In Arizona, however, the child is unable to choose which parent will take custody of them.

A child in Arizona does not have the right to be questioned or to appear in court. The court, on the other hand, has the authority to determine what the child’s desires are. A youngster testifying in court is severely discouraged by judges. This keeps the youngster out of the midst of the custody battle between their parents.

Although children will not testify in court, their preferences can be communicated to the court through a therapist, a custody evaluator, or a court services interview. The court can then decide how much weight the children’s desires are given.

While the court has the authority to hear a child’s view, it must first be established whether the youngster is of an acceptable age and degree of maturity for that opinion to be heard.

When a kid is around 12 years old or older, the court will typically consider questioning him or her. The older the kid is at the time of the interview, the more weight the court will place on their preferences.

The following are some of the criteria the court would examine when deciding whether or not to accept testimony:

  • The child’s desire to testify as well as their capacity to articulate themselves
  • How will the child’s emotional and psychological well-being be affected?
  • For the judge to reach a final conclusion on the issues, the judge must consider how substantial, trustworthy, and relevant the child’s evidence is.

Judges in Arizona courts are typically mindful of the difficulty and stress that a child may experience while making a decision in front of their parents. That is why a child will not be permitted to testify in open court about their decisions.

In the judge’s chambers, the child can be questioned to establish their preferred custodian and visiting schedule. In this way, neither parent can encourage the youngster to give a different tale.

Typically, a court reporter is assigned to record the interview. To protect the child’s interests, the judge might order that the tape be sealed and kept confidential. The parents can consent to the judge interviewing their child outside of the courtroom.

A court can obtain a child’s viewpoint in a variety of ways.

  • After one or more interviews with the child, the judge might appoint a custody evaluator to make an evaluation. After that, the evaluator will write a report to the judge summarizing what the child has stated.

  • The judge might also appoint a counsel to only represent the interests of the child. In the same way that attorneys representing the child’s parents interview the youngster, the lawyer will function as an advocate for the child’s viewpoint.

  • In particularly contentious family court proceedings, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child. The guardian ad litem does not speak on behalf of the child, but he or she guarantees that the child’s rights and best interests are safeguarded.
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By Azwatchdog – Own work, CC BY 2.5,

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The attorneys at GillespieShields are well-versed in a variety of different legal fields, ranging from family law to civil suits, employment disputes and probate cases. Although we specialize in several areas of practice, our greatest passion is family law. We believe in giving families peace of mind no matter their situation, and we fight hard to maintain that peace. Whether you’re filing for dissolution or divorce, determining custody of your children, or thinking about adopting children, our experienced attorneys are here to help you every step of the way.  During our private, one-on-one consultation, we’ll take the necessary time to answer all of our questions surrounding Arizona’s family laws, your family’s unique situation, and the possible court outcomes. Contact us today for your consultation!


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